William Cox: Principles of renewable energy: Chapter 1 by John Twidell and Tony Weir (Summary)

I. Purpose is to analyze the full range of renewable energy supplies available for modern economies.

a. Chosen sources – wind, water, biomass, solar, and waste

b. Local and global application and practicality of energy supply

II. Defining Renewable Energy and Non-Renewable Energy

1. Renewable, Sustainable, or Green Energy: ‘“Energy Obtained from natural and persistent flows of energy occurring in the immediate environment”’

2. Non-renewable, finite, or Brown energy: ‘“Energy obtained from static stores of energy that remain underground unless released by human interaction”’

3. Where we stand: These definitions suggest that the Plastic to Diesel Plant we are looking at implementing is neither a Renewable nor Non-Renewable energy. At the stage it is transferred into diesel it is not taken from underground (although it is a petroleum product.) It is also does not occur in the immediate environment (although it is quite persistent.) This leaves us in an interesting middle ground. It is important to recognize because this plant may not only help dispose of plastic but also create a stepping stone towards renewable energy sources in the future.

III. Important questions to ask

1. How much energy is available in the immediate environment – what is the resource?

a. For our purposes it is plastics. There are only certain types of plastics that can be used. The plastic already in the landfill may or may not be a cost effective source, so it may not be an option in the start.

– Currently plastic production is huge, so there is a lot of plastic that must be disposed of and landfill space is limited.

2. For what purpose can this energy be used – what is the end-use?

a. No energy source is cheap or occurs without some form of environmental disruption.

– It is important use the energy in the most efficient way possible i.e. natural gas for transportation, nuclear for industrial production, ect.

b. Money spent on energy conservation and improvements in end-use efficiency result in long term benefits than money spent on increased generation and supply capacity

3. What is the environmental impact of technology- is it sustainable?

a. Relates to social responsibility and sustainable development (continued in chapter 17, should look into that)

b. What is the cost of the energy – is it cost-effective?

§ Institutional factor that depends on consumers and becomes a major criterion for commercial installations.

§ The cost effectiveness of a power source depends on distinctive scientific principles of renewable energy like efficiency. This can be broken down into different criteria

· Locally available source – (pre-present)

– It is more cost effective for renewable energy to be produced locally in a dispersed fashion rather than being centralized. Electricity from finite sources like fossil fuels are more efficiently generated at a large factory and then allotted outwardly. Electricity from renewable sources like wind or solar are more efficiently produced and allotted locally, therefore the energy loss during conversion and transportation is much less, and it is more cost effective.

· Dynamic characteristics of energy – when does is peak, or does it?

· Quality of supply – Proportion of the energy source that can be converted to mechanical work.

IV. Social Implications

1. Populations have grown in response to the employment opportunities offered in areas of industry and commerce (industrial revolution.) The implementation of renewable energy would be decentralized and dispersed into many different areas. It would lead to many changes in lifestyle, as new jobs would open up in different areas (these new establishments would be able to support up to 500 people per square kilometer.) This could relive population stress on metropolitan and urban areas.