Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Law Institute’

Can Industry Rely on Renewable Sources For Its Energy Needs

October 21, 2014

The US is gradually realizing that fossil fuel is no longer a
viable energy option, not just due to its impact on the environment, but
the economy as well. According to the Environmental Law Institute,
subsidies for fossil fuel, from 2002 to 2008, totaled a whooping $72
billion. With the US economy deeply dependent on fossil fuel, moving
towards cleaner, cost effective and sustainable renewable energy sources
can be challenging.

Industry needs reliable and affordable energy
to stay productive and competitive. At the same time, it needs to
balance between its growing demand for energy and the urgent need to
protect the environment.

Industry accounts for more than a third
of total energy consumption in the US, and 70% -80% of this sector’s
energy demand is for heat production. Given the current concerns of
global warming,environmental pollution, energy security and industrial
competitiveness, there is increasing pressure on industry to use modern,
clean and efficient sources of energy. Till 2007, just 8.5% of the
total energy demand in the US was fulfilled from renewable energy
sources. However solar, wind and biomass-based technologies have shown
considerable potential and are waiting to be tapped not just for
domestic use but industrial energy purposes as well.


is the largest industry in the world. It fuels both the manufacturing
and service sector and is estimated to be about $ 7 trillion TWh in
size.The fallout of excessive dependence on fossil fuel for energy is
having an impact on the environment and people alike. With growing
acknowledgment of the negative effects of the use of fossil fuel,
research and development in the renewable energy sector is getting some
serious attention.

According to market studies, investment in
renewable energy is growing at 45% a year – essentially doubling every
two years. It is expected that energy generated from alternate sources
will become cost competitive compared to energy generated from fossil
fuel, especially with the costs of pollution from fossil fuels factored
in. This is increasingly becoming the case with the tax on CO2
production.Despite the thrust towards alternative energy, U.S used
renewable energy sources such as water, geothermal, wind, sun, and
biomass to meet just 8.5% of its total energy needs in 2007.

Alternative Energy Resources

there are numerous alternate energy resources, not all of them can be
harvested on a large scale while others, have reliability issues.

Solar energy

conversion of sunlight to electricity using solar cells is a promising
technology, and already has been used widely. Solar energy is especially
helpful for remote places that keep falling off the energy grid and
face constant blackouts.

Wind energy

Wind has the
potential to be a significant electric power source. Its viability,
however, depends on the location of wind mills. The development of wind
power in the US is currently the highest in the world.Wind is also a
clean, low maintenance, cost effective way to generate energy, but like
solar energy, storage problems of large amounts of wind generated
electricity remain of much concern.

Geothermal energy

sources allow for continual energy generation, which contrasts with
alternative energy sources like wind or solar. Geothermal energy boasts
of the best base load percentage, namely power availability 95% of the
time. The footprint of a geothermal power plant is minimal and the
resource is long lasting; the original geothermal power plant which is
over a century old continues to produce electricity to date. Geothermal
power produces energy with little or no emission. It is also a proven
technology, with low operating costs; no fuel requirements once the
plant is built, and insulates producers from commodity shocks, unlike
fossil fuel.

Three aspects of the alternate energy system

alternate energy seems to be increasingly feasible, its distribution
and consumption cannot become a reality without certain infrastructure.
The first infrastructural requirement is energy storage systems – this
is especially important as renewable energy like solar and wind are not
constantly produced. The second requirement is the Smart Grid that can
be used to distribute not just energy produced from alternate energy
sources but from fossil fuel as well. The smart grid has to be extremely
responsive to fluctuations in energy supply, leakages during
transmission and breakdowns. The third infrastructure requirement is the
smart meter which allows people to monitor their energy consumption and
regulate its use, especially during certain times of the day when the
price of energy may change. The fourth infrastructure requirement is
energy efficient transformers that reduce energy wastage during

Energy storage systems

The concept of
storing electricity generated in a utility grid has been tried since the
1960s, these large scale storage projects were, however, more common at
nuclear power plants. From 2005 onwards, the American Electric Power
(AEP) took the lead in adding large amounts of battery energy storage in
substations. The distributed energy storage approach was used to test
peak load management and improve system reliability by deploying systems
in sizes of 2 MW. Battery systems provide a new alternative for utility
power management in a distribution substation, and during an
outage,customers can have power restored as the substation runs on
battery energy.

Smart Grid

Simply put, the smart grid
is dynamic and has constant two-way communication. It represents a
significant move away from aging, utility-owned electricity distribution
infrastructure to networked infrastructure that directly connects
utilities with customers. The smart grid puts renewable energy online,
and makes the distribution system efficient, reliable and flexible.

Grid introduces a complete change in perspective and moves away from
technicalities like production and distribution of energy to dawn a
human face, that of the consumer. The consumer becomes part of the smart
grid and is able to use energy more efficiently. Smart Grid also
enables consumers to reduce demand, enables utilities to use efficient
generators, and allows for more renewable power sources to be used.
Smart Grid is a key enabler of solutions to reduce global warming.

Smart meters

heart of the Smart Grid are “smart meters” that establish 2-way
communication between utilities and the customer. The meters give
consumers a great variety of information about their energy consumption -
and therefore, some control over their energy savings. Because a
utility has different costs to generate power at different times,
everybody can save if electric usage is cut during highest-cost times.
Utilities can transmit different rates/kWh at different times of the day
or week, and customer can use this information to take advantage of the
cheapest rates.

Smart meter also track usage at different times
and tally up a bill without meter readers. Smart meters can tell a
utility when power has been lost at a location, so the utility can know
immediately when and where a power outage occurs.

Energy Efficient Transformers

and inefficient energy transformers waste hundreds of TWh of energy
each year; the reasons for the losses are many, including inefficient

Compliant transformers are able to maintain National
Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Class 1 efficiency levels at
35% load. This is accomplished by using higher-grade grain-oriented
steel in the core rather than standard non grain-oriented steel.
Grain-oriented steel offers thinner gauge and purer metallic material
quality, reducing heat caused from eddy currents by limiting the
direction in which current flows. Narrowing of the magnetic field into a
thinner profile also reduces the canceling effect of opposing currents.
Increasing energy efficiency of a transformer allows an organization to
operate at the same level of efficiency with less energy.

transformers cost more than their lower-efficiency predecessors due to
the higher price of grain-oriented steel, additional labor and higher
raw material costs. While compliant transformers add to construction and
maintenance costs, end users save over the life of the transformer.

Can industry rely on renewable sources for its energy needs?
The popularity of renewable energy is increasing rapidly and prices are
dropping such that renewable energy will soon be cost competitive
compared with fossil fuel. Most industries rely heavily on steady
supplies of energy, and with costs of fossil fuel constantly increasing
and fluctuating, renewable energy seems to be the answer. Numerous
companies like Pacific Crest Transformers are in the process of making
renewable energy reliable enough for industry.

Much like rectifier
transformers, Wind Turbine Step-Up Transformers are designed for
harmonics, additional loading, and have electrostatic shields to prevent
transfer of harmonic frequencies between the primary and secondary

Renewable energy still has a long way to go in terms of
reliability and cost effectiveness before industry can fully rely on its
supply, but till then industry needs to take smaller steps that will
help make the big switch. The US leads the world in generating wind
energy, and it’s time that industry backed this effort by using wind
energy to part meet its requirements.