Category Green Electricity

Снижение затрат при использовании электрических тёплых полов

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Единственным фактором, который порой останавливает людей от установки электрических тёплых полов в своей квартире, порой является необходимость тратить электрическую энергию на их работу. Однако этот фактор уже практически потерял свою актуальность, так как производители подобных систем существенно снизили данный показатель и создали специальные устройства, позволяющие регулировать работу обогревателей по времени. Эти устройства хорошо программируются на задаваемое время работы, как по часам и минутам, так и по дням, неделям, месяцам...

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River Hum: Hydroelectric Energy

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

For the past several hundred years humans have put beavers to shame. We have built more than 845,000 dams around the world to block the natural flow of rivers. And these are not the meandering creeks that beavers dare attack. No. We humans have corralled many of the world’s greatest rivers behind giant dams with miles of concrete. Some 65 percent of all fresh water flowing on Earth hits at least one dam before it reaches the ocean. The United States has 80,000 of those dams.

Most dams do not have electric generators installed in them. Fewer than 3 percent of U. S. dams (2,400) produce electricity. However, those 2,400 U. S. dams produced 250 billion kwhr of electricity in 2007...

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Second Time Around: Energy Recapture

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

America has been called a “throwaway” society. Research has shown that we “throw away” most of our energy. Over 50 percent of all the energy we consume is wasted—thrown away—mostly as waste heat up a smokestack or out a tailpipe instead of performing useful work. But we throw away unused electricity as well. Why not recapture and save that wasted electricity for future use?

Electric utilities have always been a zero-inventory operation. They produce electricity each moment to meet the exact demand of that moment. Each time someone turns on (or off) a light, some power plant has to wiggle its output up or down a tiny bit. Any extra electricity produced is literally thrown away at the plant. It is a very inefficient system.

The Sma...

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A Swim in the Balmy, Briny Sea: Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

The oceans of our planet—not the land—are the great storage shed for the sun’s radiant energy. Each day the oceans absorb solar energy (heat) that is the equivalent of 250 billion barrels of oil. If we could convert only 0.1 percent of this energy into electricity each day, it would supply 20 times the amount of electricity consumed that day in the United States.

That sounds like it should be fairly easy to do—and it sounds like a perfect answer to our energy dilemma. Right? Unfortunately, no. There is a problem. That vast storehouse of heat energy is spread out over the 23 million square miles of ocean surface like soft butter oozing out to cover the entire surface of a steaming pancake...

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Electricity in a Box: Batteries and Energy Storage

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

Batteries are devices that store energy. They don’t create energy. They just hold it for future use. We use batteries to power electrical equipment when it is impossible or inconvenient to plug into the grid.

The problem is that electricity from a battery is much more expensive than the same amount of electricity taken directly from the grid. If you are lounging on the beach and want to listen to the radio, you don’t care if the electricity from its batteries costs more. You have no other choice. But if you are a utility company always struggling to reduce costs and provide electricity to the grid as inexpensively as possible, then you do care—a lot...

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“Catch a Wave, Dude!”: Ocean Wave Energy

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

Wind skims across the surface of the ocean and transfers some of its energy into the water, pushing up waves. The longer the wind blows, and the harder it blows, the bigger the waves grow. The bigger the waves become, the more energy they absorb from the wind.

Soon, seemingly endless trains of waves march across the oceans to crash against the shore. Breaking waves release an estimated 2 to 3 million megawatts of power (the equivalent of 3,000 large power plants) as they break along the 100,000 miles of shoreline on this planet. And all of that wonderful wave energy is wasted, smashing against coastal rocks, sand, and bluffs.

Waves flow across the ocean not as moving water (each water particle actually moves in a small circle and after the w...

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Micro-Might: Nanotechnology

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

Nanotechnology is poised to usher in a revolution that could change our lives and social structure far more radically than computers, the Internet, automobiles, or even electricity itself have. Almost like a towering tsunami, nanotechnology is poised to crash over all aspects of modern life and wash everything old away. That includes how we think about and use energy.

“Nano” means one part in a billion. “Technology” refers to the practical study of, or to the applied science of. Put them together, and we get nanotechnology, the study of controlling matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials or devices sized between 1 and 100 nanometers in size...

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Rollin’, Rollin’ with the Tide: Ocean Tidal Energy

What Is It, and How Does It Produce Electricity?

The tide rolls in; the tide rolls out—-just like clockwork, every day of every year. That regular rise and fall of the ocean’s surface that we call “the tide” is created by gravitational tugs from the moon and the sun.

You don’t notice the effect of rising and falling tides in the open ocean. But they are a powerful force along the shore and especially in mid-latitude coastal bays and inlets. Great volumes of water flow into those bays as the tide rises and rush back out as the tide falls. That rushing water holds the potential to generate electricity—just as flowing river water does.

There are two challenges to using tidal flows to generate electricity. First, unlike a river, tidal current is intermittent...

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