Environmentalism Chapter 20 – Energy saving
I am becoming increasingly annoyed and frustrated at the recent and past energy price rises that has increased in the European Union by up to twenty five per cent in the last two years. International Animal Rescue Foundation © owns its own rescue in the United Kingdom and since our last yearly energy bill came in from N-Power Energy with I being the utility payer and rescue owner I was absolutely disgusted at the rates from which I was being charged.
Our energy consumption for one entire year is always estimated and for the past two years I have asked my staff to provide monthly meter readings as requested, plus I have continuously demanded that the energy readers travel to the farm and take monthly meter readings so that a complete 100% accurate usage of energy can be established thus charging me the owner of the rescue farm the correct amount in usage.
The bill yet again was exactly (wait for it) drum roll du du du du du £4,576 for one years of estimated usage, (even though I have asked trusted staff to take meter readings) and the utility meter readers have travelled to the farm and taken exact usage readings to the nearest decibel. I have read through all the paper work as requested by myself and sent to me by my staff and still N-Power have charged myself the Chief Executive Officer the best part of almost £5,000 English sterling.
The rescue farm has many energy saving modifications, all energy saving white goods, water meter’s and turbine, to solar powered energy and 3 small wind turbines too that generate and store energy. So in theory one would think with a moderate supply of free natural energy “although not a substantial amount” and environmentally friendly modifications that have since paid themselves off then the amount of kilowatts per hour of energy usage would be vastly reduced.
Unfortunately this is not the case and it’s going to become a lot worse with more peaks in energy “billing” for the entire nation of the United Kingdom and many other continents if not all due to obsessive over consumption that could be greatly decreased if we all took vital steps in reducing heat loss, increasing environmentally friendly modifications within the home and business sector to turning of energy when we don’t require it.
Even though I am not a resident or citizen of the United Kingdom I still have to pay for the usage, however I feel it unfair that I am being forced to pay “increases” because other people in the United Kingdom cannot be bothered to use energy wisely and efficiently to securing their homes from “energy loss” thus decreasing higher bills to using greener energy such as solar, wind, and water to recycled energy within the home, business and even automobile.
So in reality I have paid for all these modifications over a period of two years and yes ok “has been awarded star decreased energy billing” because I had electrical engineers fit the rescue with (alternative energy) saving technology. However because other British citizens that have yet to decrease their carbon output, to fitting alternative energy within their homes then I and others are still being “discriminated and singled out” due to their obsessive over energy consumption, which I believe is totally unfair and discriminative.
OK so let’s move away from my own expense and look at the average energy billing that I have listed below, and please note this is based on estimated sources that I could source and locate from energy suppliers around the world and not just in the United Kingdom.
Please note the readings below are based on the United Kingdom, the average size of the living space to the average weather readings for the past two years, I have only included electricity as this is the main source of energy that one uses.
- One person in a one bedroom apartment = 500 Kwh/year
- Two people in a two bedroom apartment = 2,500 Kwh/year
- Three people in a three bedroom house = 5,500 Kwh/year
- Family of four in a four bedroom house = 4800kwh/year to 15840kwh/year
The above readings are based on “usage” and not an exact figure as everyone uses energy differently and are not always at home. This is based on average moderately healthy person[s] but does not show an exact figure.
Below I have placed some of the averaged priced bills based upon what “type” of home the individual lives in. Please remember again this is “estimated” and does not represent a real accurate figure which would be practically impossible for one to document on.
Energy billing per type of property;
For a flat/apartment from one bedroom up to five the prices per energy consumption are listed below with the lowest priced billing figure being a (one bedroom) to the highest figure being a six bedroom.
Flat £675 £570 £743 £823 £575 £693
For a terraced from one bedroom up to five the prices per energy consumption are listed below with the lowest priced billing figure being a (one bedroom) to the highest figure being a six bedroom.
Terraced £774 £579 £710 £755 £1,085 £1,150
For a bungalow from one bedroom up to five the prices per energy consumption are listed below with the lowest priced billing figure being a (one bedroom) to the highest figure being a six bedroom.
Bungalow £804 £929 £836 £707 £1,031 £1,200
For a semidetached from one bedroom up to five the prices per energy consumption are listed below with the lowest priced billing figure being a (one bedroom) to the highest figure being a six bedroom.
Semi-Detached £805 £619 £666 £796 £1,059 £886
For a detached from one bedroom up to five the prices per energy consumption are listed below with the lowest priced billing figure being a (one bedroom) to the highest figure being a six bedroom.
Detached £924 £300 £917 £797 £991 £1,038
It’s quite peculiar to see such fluctuations of energy based on how many bedroom’s you have, for example a one bedroom flat will use per year on average £675 however move up to a (five bedroom and your consumption per year on average is £575) and the same applies for a detached, a one bedroom detached will see you at a rate of £924 per year however move up to a two bedroom then you’re paying £300??? (this is ludicrous)
But purchase a four bedroom and the usage on average is £797 BUT living in a six bedroom you’re paying just over the average of what you would for a one bedroom detached. Confusing? Yes rather confusing as energy companies are rather crafty in the United Kingdom.
The monthly meter reading man/woman will ONLY take an (estimate of your consumption) of which it’s up to YOU to provide most energy companies nowadays with your energy usage by providing them over the telephone the two click meter readings per month or quarter.
This is not only time consuming for yourselves (but have you actually been kept in a telephone waiting line for almost an hour listing to the verses of Mozart or Vivaldi before launching into a tyrant of abuse? I have many times now. It’s also costly on the telecommunications usage too.
If you feel that your being unfairly treated then one can complain or you can pay of your outstanding electricity bill at the end of the year and then run your usage by taking the meter readings yourselves then placing them through this simple search engine http://www.home-save.co.uk/energy/compare_cheap_gas_and_cheap_electricity_prices_online/cheap_gas_and_electricity/ of which you can “haggle as they say in Britain” with electricity companies and if you’re not sure on how to (haggle) then here’s how http://www.wikihow.com/Haggle trust me it works.
I use this technique many times when I am traveling from one continent to the other or just purchasing on markets. Be sure to make a (realistic) “quote” and if they refuse then explain to them you’re going to shop elsewhere as (another company has offered you a cheaper price and extra’s, remember though don’t exaggerate as they are actually trained in haggling too).
If they agree (to your haggling quote) then explain to the telephonist that you’re still not satisfied, give them your number and then explain you’ll shop about. Trust me your energy bill will drop substantially, then all you have you do is ensure you SIGN the dotted line and READ THE SMALL PRINT.
Whatever you do (never forget to read the small print) even if it’s in bible format and 10 pages long of which you need a magnifier glass to read (you must read it) because on the telephonists end (energy company) they will have the small print standing out on their computers at a rate the size of the Eifel tower.
However we are still not solving the problem here and the problem is obsessive over consumption and wastage of energy through many reasons such as poor construction, poor household maintenance, to inadequate loft and ceiling insulating or just failing to turn your electrics of at night time or when you vacate the property that can and does use more energy than having your electric’s turned on.
Fact your television uses about 80 to 400 watts, depending on usage however leave it on standby and it’s using 99W. A laptop is more energy-efficient than a desktop and monitor set-up.
Laptops, desktops and monitors are becoming increasingly energy-efficient, especially when you compare LCD or LED monitors with the old-style tube or CRT monitors. Newer machines also have reasonably good power options, so they switch on and power down fairly quickly, making it less tempting to just leave your computer on unnecessarily.
Computers effectively use similar power whether they are busy or idle. If you leave them doing nothing, they are using almost as much as if they are number crunching or accessing information, that’s why ‘sleep’ mode is so useful.
Use your power-saving setting: these are usually found in your computer preferences, and there are normally two options, either sleep or hibernate mode, both will turn off the monitor within a specified number of minutes of inactivity – with an old tube/CRT monitor energy usage may fall by half. Don’t forget to switch off your computer and any peripheral devices, such as your printer and scanner, overnight. Check your back-up settings and make sure it is set up to run as soon as your computer is switched on again (in case your computer is switched off at the designated time).
How much energy are you actually losing through poor home construction, shoddy maintenance, to poor insulation and even small cracks under the doors and window frames?
The average household will spend an average of about $960 each per year keeping warm and using various electrical items please note the figure above though is based on electric heating, gas heating, too using plug in heaters which the rate above is “WORLD ESTIMATE” to the nearest figure.
That’s three months of grocery money for a family, pumping heat into a leaky sieve that could actually have been built to require much less, or even no added heat, depending on the location and climate.
To understand heating, you must first know what you’re paying for. Heat is often measured in BTUs, British Thermal Units.
Then you must understand how you are losing your heat. The most important form of heat loss from your house is something called thermal transmittance, also known as U-factor. This is really just a number that means “how leaky is this material”, and it is based on the leakiness of a single pane of glass.
A single-pane glass window has a U-factor of 1. In English units, this means that each square foot of glass leaks out one BTU of heat per hour, for each degree Fahrenheit your house is warmer than the outside air.
So when you’re looking through a giant 10×10 foot window (100sqft), from a 70F room out into a 0F deadly-cold wintry blizzard, your window is leaking out 100 x 70 = 7,000 BTU per hour of heat into the night. That’s 7 cents/four UK pennies per hour or $50.40 per month of heat from that single window.
The “R-value” you have probably heard about is simply the inverse of the U factor. That means 1 divided by U equals R, and 1 divided by R equals U. You’ve heard of R-13 wall insulation, right? The U-factor of that is 1/13, or 0.08. (Are you still with me?)
With that knowledge, we can move up to understand the heat loss of an entire house. A 1000 square foot house probably has an outside surface area of about 2000 square feet including the roof. If it has standard R-13 wall insulation (and no windows for this example), and the temperature inside is 68F, it loses how much heat on a 32 degree day? 2000 square feet x 0.08 U-factor x 36 degree temperature difference = 5760 BTU per hour = $1.38 per day. (Times that by seven days = $9.66)
Imagine a household uses the same amount of electricity, about 299 kilowatt-hours per month, equivalent to 415 watts of average continuous use. How much heat does this electricity use add to the house? The answer is 1416 BTU per hour.
“What? You were just talking about home heating, and now you are talking about electricity. Aren’t they two different things?”
No, it turns out they are actually directly related. Almost all of the electricity you use in your house ends up being converted to heat, with 100% efficiency. Your light bulbs give off heat and light, and the light bounces around the room and eventually gets absorbed by the walls and turns into a tiny amount of heat as well. Likewise for your appliances, your computer, etc.
What this means is that any electricity you use in the heating season provides some of your heat, and reduces the amount your furnace needs to provide. The only exception to this rule is electric appliances that vent their waste heat outside. (Now are you paying attention?)
The glowing red and yellow sections on the left of this photograph indicate where the heat loss is via the use of thermal imagery
Getting down to the real deal here, and that is energy consumption wastage that’s not just costing you hundreds and leaking out thousands of dollars a year it’s also adding up to environmental global climate change and as explained on previous documentation if we don’t decrease and start slowing our wastage down then the planet’s surface temperature is regrettably going to heat up to another 4oc by 2100 and that is very concerning.
Of course our “winters will be warmer” however if winters are warmer what does that explain to you the home and business owner? Well it means more intense flooding and at higher levels destroying vast swathes of land, placing the world’s economy into jeopardy, agriculture will be effected considerably, corn, wheat and other cereal crops will be priced much higher due to importation from other nations (all because we couldn’t be bothered to turn the television, computers, lights, car engines, to mobile phones and much more.
Where are we losing our energy within the home?
- Lack of loft insulation or no loft/attic insulation
- Lack of or incorrect to no inner wall heat insulation
- Cracks in walls, ceiling’s, waste outlet/inlet pipes, air circulation vents, shoddy building construction, poor maintenance, poorly fitted doors and windows, underneath doors, unused chimney vents, chimney vents that are now used for decorative features, plug holes (yes believe it or not plug holes), over flow pipes, damaged exterior brick pointing and interior brick pointing to damaged plaster and render, key holes (did you know that a key hole can cool your house down in 1 hour?), broken tiles, poorly constructed A frame roofs to flat roofing.
- Electricals not being turned off at the wall and left on standby or (vampire power) use almost as more energy within the time that you’re away from the set “as they say” than you are watching. Example – if you watch television for 4 hours at night, then turn it on standby and sleep for the average of 7-8 hours (normal average sleep pattern) your television is consuming more energy, and it’s not to keep the red light on neither. Please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leakage_(electronics)
- Other electronics such a coffee percolators, video game consoles, mobile phones left on at night, answering machines, stereos, and white goods from cookers, washing machines, microwaves, toasters, tumble dryers, (anything with an L.E.D display).
- Lights (a very big energy waster and environmental atmospheric warmer) It sounds almost too simple, but don’t forget that you can save a lot of energy, and therefore money, by making sure to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Lighting is responsible for about 11 per cent of a home’s energy bills, and those continue to march up across most of the country, at a time when home prices are falling and job growth is soft. It’s true that a compact fluorescent bulb uses about 75 per cent less electricity than an incandescent, but the most energy-saving bulb of all is one that’s turned off. So get in the habit of flipping those switches when you leave a room. Kids can easily get in on the action, and it’s an environmental value that will last a lifetime, and carry over into other areas.
Items in the home that consume the most energy;
- Fridges (use economy and make sure the fridge and freezer is full, ensure the fridge is in between 2-5oc not above the food spoil danger zone of 5oc) – ensuring the fridge and freezer is full uses less energy and reduces “energy wastage” make sure that when you open your fridge and freezer door that you close the door immediately. A simple drop in temperature will start the thermostat = more energy because you was too lazy to shut the door
- Gas or electric boilers / central heating (use when needed or at a constant 15oc)
- Cookers (turn of at the wall if you have a L.E.D
- Air conditioning uses masses amount of energy (use a battery fan)
- Computers (turn to energy efficient setting)
- High grade television and DVD players (larger the screen = more energy usage) (do you really need a 50” television screen? If so think of an up to date eye examination
- Stereos (turn of at the wall when not in use)
- Plasma heating units / mobile electric heaters (fancy heaters? We don’t need them)
- Video game consoles (uses masses of energy due to high grade technology) (turn of at the wall and exercise more) – we are spending too much time as couched potatoes EXERCISE and your brain will thank you http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm
- Fax machines – (really?)
- Cell phones, (the newer the phone and the bigger the pixel on the camera = more charge time, video player, MP3 player, and more) (make sure you use all the power in your cell phone then recharge, turn of at night and rely on a non-electric landline)
- Plug in air fresheners (purchase natural fragrance or clean more please DON’T use CFC’s)
- Security lights, CCTV, intruder alarms (set them on timers and at the correct height)
- Clocks (use battery)
- Coffee and tea makers (use a kettle)
- Electric land line telephones (use non-electric)
- Light bulbs (turn of when not in the room or purchase energy efficient)
- Electric storage heaters (these are massive energy consumers if not used correctly) (read the manual and make sure your generating and storing it, then releasing it on a timer and not generating it and releasing at the same time)
- Gadgets (do you really need them on at night) (do you really need them)
- Children’s rechargeable toys (BOOKS please READ – we are using more electric toys than reading books FACT)
- Electric wheel chairs (buy a non-electric and apply for a career) This link is for the UK https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/overview and USA http://www.ssa.gov/disability/
- Intercom systems (door bells or knockers with a spy hole)
- Electric smoke alarms (purchase battery)
- Skype headsets (these use masses of battery power) (use PC built in microphone)
- Spotlights (just the same as a 50 WAT halogen we don’t need them, purchase energy saving)
- Fish tanks and basic animal tanks (animals belong in the wild not the home)
- Water coolers (make ice in the freezer with an array of herbs and spices)
- Air ventilation systems (use a handmade fan)
- Electric automobiles (use bio fuel) (don’t use palm oil)
- Water lime scale removers (purchase a non-battery/non-electric lime remover) http://www.brita.com/intl/
- Washing machines (use when you have a heavy load not just for a single shirt)
- Tumble dryers (ever heard of wind)
- Electronic rotary air drying lines (we have natural wind for this)
This is thirty three objects that we are using in the modern house today that are not being used wisely with most of them used too much, too little, to using at the wrong times of the day. We don’t even need half of these goods listed above within our homes and sadly it’s a well-known fact of life that the average human is spending more time in their homes then they are out as recorded in recent 2010, 2011, 2012 market surveys. http://www.smh.com.au/business/cutting-peak-energy-demand-could-ease-pressure-on-rising-electricity-costs-20110717-1hk75.html On and off peak times for Great Britain https://customerservices.npower.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/179/~/what-are-the-economy-7-peak-and-off-peak-periods%3F
The biggest issue here though is (WHAT DO ALL OF THESE PRODUTS PRODUCE) and that is heat, even the simple house light bulb as explained above gives of heat and if you have all of these products in your home your home then you home is producing an eye watering loss of heat that can actually be seen on thermal imagery cameras and by the ISS (International Space Station).
How can I cut down my energy consumption?
By reducing your energy consumption you’re helping to reduce your carbon foot print which will slow but sadly no longer cease global climate change. There are many alternative energy options that you can purchase that are at this stage “still fairly expensive” however once they are installed and they have been running for at least a six months to one year you will see a considerable energy decrease billing amount on your monthly, quarterly to yearly utility bill. Please also remember that before and “if” you purchase that we do as an experienced animal and environmental agency strongly recommend, that you read through all the contracts and small print.
If you’re a home owner and you have had alternative energy saving options introduced and then come to sell your home it “could” place the home at a decreased value market price if the other buyer doesn’t want to live in an adapted property.
Should you purchase adaptions of an energy supplier then again this could also affect your property value of which “you would not be entitled to ownership” until a set amount of years which is in between 15-25 years.
Most suppliers of “solar blinds/panels” will state that they will fit however they will not legally be yours to own until after a set amount of years. Please do read all the contracts and don’t just sign out of excitement or laziness.
International Animal Rescue Foundation © recommends that your shop about and “purchase to fitting” your own energy saving adaption technology because then if you do decide to sell and move you can uninstall the adaptions and take them with you. You haven’t lost out then, and can continue to use the adaptions in your new home.
Alternative energy saving adaptions;
Yes you can have wind power turbines fitted to your home of which I have fitted to my rescue farm and 3 fitted to my 7 bedroom cottage of which they do generate a substantial amount of green energy. Please read below.
Wind is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced.
Through Feed-in-Tariffs, you get paid for the electricity you generate even if you use it. What you don’t use, you can export to the local grid – and get paid for that too.
Wind electricity is green, renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.
If your home isn’t connected to the national grid you can store excess electricity in batteries and use it when there is no wind.
The cost of a system will depend on the size and the mounting method, building-mounted turbines cost less to install than pole-mounted ones. For equipment and installation, with VAT at 5%: a roof-mounted 1kW micro-wind system costs around £2,000 a 2.5kW pole-mounted system costs around £15,000 a 6kW pole-mounted system costs around £22,500. Maintenance (A simple 3-4 bedroom home will need only 1 £2,000 1kW micro wind systems. Think about the price though, (Your average bill per month is around in the United Kingdom to America £80 $100 per year that’s almost paid it’s self of then after three years (your free from robbing electrical companies)
Maintenance checks are necessary every few years, and will generally cost around £100 to £200 per year depending on turbine size (this I am sure you can save up for with the amount you’re saving from you’re normal utility bill). A well-maintained turbine should last more than 20 years, but you may need to replace the inverter at some stage during this time, at a cost of £1,000 to £2,000 for a large system.
For off-grid systems, batteries will also need replacing, typically every six to ten years. The cost of replacing batteries varies depending on the design and scale of the system. Any back-up generator will also have its own fuel and maintenance costs.
Building-mounted turbines tend to produce less electricity per kW than pole-mounted ones. A well-sited 6kW turbine can generate around 10,000kWh and the equivalent of around 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. (That is a lot)
Visit an online tariff saving generator and that will work out for you your weekly to monthly and yearly savings.
How do wind turbines work?
Wind turbines use large blades to catch the wind. When the wind blows, the blades are forced round, driving a turbine which generates electricity. The stronger the wind, the more electricity produced.
There are two types of domestic-sized wind turbine:
Pole mounted: these are free standing and are erected in a suitably exposed position, often around 5kW to 6kW
Building mounted: these are smaller than mast mounted systems and can be installed on the roof of a home where there is a suitable wind resource. Often these are around 1kW to 2kW in size.
Depending on the location and design of your system, the typical home installation ranges from 3 to 7 kilowatts and costs, between $18,000 to $40,000 to purchase this is considerably cheaper in British sterling I do believe.
Equipment Costs ~ 45%
Solar panels: About a third of the cost of a residential photovoltaic system comes from the cost of solar panels, which can cost around $4,500-$12,000.
Power inverter: The inverter, which converts DC to AC so you can connect to the grid, will cost $1,000-$3,000.
Mounting hardware: Depending on your home, you may need standoffs, rails, clips, etc., which cost around $800-$2,000.
Wiring: Wires and wiring boxes, disconnects, conduit, and other electrical components can total to around $1,000-$2,000.
Advantages of solar energy;
Solar cells provide cost effective solutions to energy problems in places where there is no mains electricity. Solar cells are also totally silent and non-polluting. As they have no moving parts they require little maintenance and have a long lifetime. Compared to other renewable sources they also possess many advantages; wind and water power rely on turbines which are noisy, expensive and liable to breaking down.
Rooftop power is a good way of supplying energy to a growing community. More cells can be added to homes and businesses as the community grows so that energy generation is in line with demand.
Many large scale systems currently end up over generating to ensure that everyone has enough. Solar cells can also be installed in a distributed fashion, i.e. they don’t need large scale installations. Solar cells can easily be installed on roofs which mean no new space is needed and each user can quietly generate their own energy.
Very unheard of in the modern world however we believe there is no such word as can’t and what can be achieved through water turbine energy is absolutely amazing. OK this is not so good for the modern housing estate that has no streams to even a water supply, however you do have the heavens above, and with a turbine fitted that can be modified so that water flow from rain is directed to the turbine this then = momentum = generated power thus stored energy for you to use = free energy.
This is of course on a small scale in the modern or old housing estate, fortunately cottages and farms that reside next to a vast rivers can benefit from this greatly thus reducing large electricity bills = lowered bills and again free electricity.
Hydropower is arguably the most reliable and sustainable source of renewable energy. It does not require the sun to shine or the wind to blow. The rivers in this country have been running for thousands of years and will continue to do so. The utilisation factor for hydropower should be in excess of 85%. Waterpower has a history it has been used in Britain for over 1,800 years to provide power for mills. Water was initially used to power the industrial revolution of the 18th century helping to put the great into Great Britain. http://www.ewaterpower.com/files/service-rates.pdf http://www.ewaterpower.com/files/how-long-will-this-take.pdf http://www.ewaterpower.com/power-basics.php
If your stream or pond has sufficient head (vertical drop) and flow, a microhydro-electric system can be a cost-effective and reliable choice to provide renewable electricity for your home. To tap the power in falling water effectively, you need to understand basic physics, how each component works, and how to select and install the appropriate turbine and balance-of-system components for your site.
Head & Flow, Energy & Power
Hydropower results from the marriage of two forces—gravity and the flow of water—both used to determine how much power and energy can be had. Gravity is what creates the pressure between the inlet and outlet of the turbine. For every 2.31 feet of vertical drop in the pipe, 1 pound of pressure per square inch (psi) is gained. This vertical drop is also called “head”—the vertical distance between where water is taken out of a stream and where it leaves your turbine. The horizontal distance between the source and turbine is also important because of pipe cost and friction losses in the pipe—but it does not affect the basic head measurement.
Flowing water, whether measured in gallons per minute, cubic feet per second, or some other measure, is the other key factor in the hydropower equation. A continuous flow of falling water is needed to make electricity. Measuring this flow accurately is crucial to hydro site assessment and system design.
Once you have these two measurements, you can make at least a rough estimation of the power available. Multiplying the gross head (in feet) by the flow (in gallons per minute) and dividing by a specific factor will give you the potential output wattage. The factor, which is derived from real-world experience with hydro systems, will vary from 9 for larger AC systems to 13 or more for smaller battery-based systems.
Once you have figured power (watts), it’s easy to calculate energy (watt-hours): Just multiply by 24 hours in a day to arrive at daily watt-hours, since hydro turbines run around the clock. The relationship of power production with water flow and head is linear, meaning that a site with 1 unit of water flow times 2 units of elevation difference will give roughly the same power production as a site that experiences 2 units of water flow times 1 unit of elevation difference, if all other things are equal. For example: If your stream has 120 feet of head and 45 gallons per minute of flow, you might expect to generate about 11 kilowatt-hours per day.
120 ft. head x 45 gpm ÷ 12 factor x 24 hrs./day =
Basic System Components
A hydro-electric system, like any renewable electricity system, is a collection of components. Buying only the turbine will get you nowhere. Hydro systems typically contain these basic components, listed here with their basic purpose:
Intake structure and screen: Direct clean water into the pipe
Penstock (pipeline): Carries water to the turbine
Diversion or weir (used in some systems): Diverts or backs up water to be delivered into the penstock and/or turbine
- Turbine: Converts falling water to electricity
- Controls: Manage turbine and electrical components
- Dump or diversion load: Removes excess energy
- Battery bank (not used in some systems): Stores energy and provides surge capability
- Metering: Monitors system performance
Disconnects and overcurrent protection: Provide a way to shut the electrical system down and to protect wires from too much current
Hydro system design is not simple, nor is it recommended for those with little experience with electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic systems. Because good hydro sites are few and far between, it is sometimes difficult to find expertise. Many systems are also deep in the back woods and not on public display, so you may need to do some research and networking to find the right people to help you.
Hydro systems come in four primary configurations, with other variations and permutations. Which type you choose depends on your site, goals, budget, and energy needs.
Battery-based off-grid systems are appropriate for smaller systems far from the utility lines, where the peak load exceeds the peak generation on a regular basis. If your hydro system produces 800 W, you’ll generate about 19 kWh per day, which is substantial. But without a battery bank and higher-powered inverter, you could not run many appliances or electronics simultaneously, and many loads, such as a 1,100 W microwave, would be impossible to power.
Battery less off-grid systems are appropriate when the generating capacity is 2 kW or more. As household loads decrease and increase, load-control governors constantly adjust the amount of energy to the diversion load to maintain a constant voltage and frequency. Because the system cannot store energy, considerable amounts of power are typically diverted to the diversion load. For this reason, it’s worth considering how to use it most effectively. One of the most common ways to use the excess energy is for heating water for domestic use.
Battery-based on-grid systems are very similar to their off-grid counterparts. The first of two primary differences is that excess energy can be sold to the grid for payment or credit. The other is that the grid can be used for backup if the hydro system doesn’t provide enough energy.
Battery less on-grid systems use the grid as the “dump load,” sending excess energy back to the utility’s grid for their customers to use. These systems still may require a controller and dump load which only come into play in the event of a utility outage. Battery less grid-tied systems are perhaps the simplest and most reliable systems because they incorporate no batteries but have the grid available. Their drawback is the lack of backup for any utility outages.
All hydro-electric turbine generators, like electric motors, work on the principle of electrons moving through wire as a result of wires passing through magnetic fields (the electromagnetic effect). Hydro-electric turbines use the moving water to turn a wheel and provide the rotational movement necessary to cause the electromagnetic effect in their generators.
Micro hydro turbines are generally classified in the range of 100 W to 100 kW, though most turbines used by homeowners are less than 25 kW. Another classification is based on the “head” (water pressure) that drives the turbine.
Low-head turbines are used in systems with 3 to 20 feet of head. Medium-head turbines are for 20 to 60 feet of head, and high-head turbines can use 60 to 1,000 feet (or more) of head.
Low-head turbines are typically “reaction” turbines, in which the turbine blades are submerged and produce electricity as an integral reaction with the water pressure. Because they work with low head, these turbines normally require a significant amount of water to produce useful power. For instance, the Energy Systems and Design LH-1000 low-head propeller turbine requires 1,000 gpm of water operating at 10 feet of head to produce 1,000 W.
Medium-head turbines are often reaction turbines. A Francis turbine is a common type. Medium-head turbines often have adjustable flow-control devices to deal with variable water flow under the same head conditions.
Another type of reaction turbine is a pump that runs in reverse as water flows through its centrifugal works (see the “Pumps as Turbines” sidebar). These can be a simple and cost-effective solution in the right situations.
High-head turbines are the most common micro hydro turbines installed in residential systems and are known as impulse or impact turbines. Water is passed through nozzles, converting pressure into velocity and sending a jet of water that “impacts” buckets or vanes attached to a rotating wheel, making it turn.
Electricity produced by most micro-hydro turbines is unregulated and is normally converted from “wild” (unregulated voltage and frequency) AC to DC using a rectifier. DC is then used to charge batteries from which an inverter can provide true 60 Hz AC electricity.
Larger (2 to 100 kW) micro hydro turbines can produce 60 Hz electricity directly through regulation using an electronic load governor, which maintains a constant load on the generator through dump loads when electricity is not needed.
Off-grid micro hydro turbines require the means to “dump” excess energy when batteries are full or AC loads are reduced. Generally it is best to have redundant (duplicate) diversion loads and/or an overvoltage trip device for protection in the event that a dump load or charge controller fails.
Model is dependent on each manufacturer. Each manufacturer should be contacted to verify a turbine will suit a particular site.
The generator type associated with micro hydro power is normally a permanent magnet, a wound-field, or induction. Smaller turbines use permanent magnet generators, some of which have adjustable gaps between the magnets and the windings for tuning the output. Stand-alone synchronous generators have a wound-field that produces its own magnetic excitation, and induction generators receive their magnetic excitation from the stator, either via capacitors or the grid.
Maximum power is determined by the watts produced by the turbine at maximum water flow and net head. This number is used to calculate the size of charge controllers and dump loads necessary to protect turbines and battery banks, adding a safety factor. Voltage of the type of generator used. Alternating current (AC) generators are used for either standard 60 Hz electricity or to produce “wild” unregulated voltage and frequency electricity, which is rectified to DC to charge batteries. “Wild” indicates that the turbine is not producing steady 60 Hz AC, and the frequency and voltage may vary. High-voltage generation (hundreds of volts instead of dozens of volts) can be useful in overcoming line losses.
AC/DC stands for alternating current and direct current. Most smaller (100 to 1,000 W; less than 2 kW; 48 kWh/day) hydro-electric turbines use permanent-magnet, “wild” AC generators. Larger micro hydro systems (2 to 100 kW) use either an induction or synchronous AC generators. Virtually all spinning generators make AC natively, and how it is transferred and conditioned is based on the application. Battery charging turbines end up producing DC. The grid and your home loads are AC systems, so turbines designed to directly interface with them produce AC in the end.
Grid connection is possible with certain makes and models. The grid connection for a smaller (less than 2 kW) hydro system commonly uses a grid-tied inverter, as for PV systems. Larger systems (2 to 100 kW) are connected through switchgear and inductive generators or synchronous generators and governors.
Runner type identifies the turbine wheel used to convert water power to rotational power, and is determined by the head and flow available. Through testing, manufacturers have determined the best runner types for various head and flow conditions. Common types are the Pelton wheel, the turgo, the cross flow, and the propeller. Your turbine supplier and contractor can give good advice about the choices.
Runner Material – Runners for micro hydro applications are commonly made of an alloy, since these materials resist corrosion and are easily cast and machined into shape. Stainless is most common in larger systems. Stainless steel and various bronze alloys are common, long-lasting materials. Plastics are used for smaller, less expensive runners.
Runner diameter selection is associated with the velocity of water impacting the runner, which is directly related to available head. The higher the head, the smaller the runner diameter for a given/constant shaft speed. Under ideal conditions, the runner velocity is approximately half the water jet velocity. For practicality, runners for smaller turbines are usually limited to just a few. The runner’s speed is adjusted by means of the generator field in relation to battery voltage, or using belt pulley ratios in relation to the output frequency of direct AC systems again, your suppliers are your best resources for helping make this choice.
Number of nozzles is a choice dependent on the range of water flow available to the turbine. Nozzles are opened or closed (manually for most small turbines, and occasionally automatically for larger turbines) to maintain maximum pressure in the turbine pipeline while taking advantage of available flow. Having multiple nozzles is especially important where stream flow varies widely over the year, so you have the option of using more or less water.
Nozzle size options are associated with available water flow. Smaller-diameter nozzle sizes are used for lower-flow situations. Nozzles are sized by manufacturers based on potential range of flow. Generally, these parts are removable and replaceable. Larger systems sometimes have adjustable “needle nozzles” or “spear valves.”
Head range is associated with types of turbine runners that can be used. Higher-head turbines use impact runners, which are generally Pelton or turgo designs. Mid-range turbines (suitable for 20 to 60 feet of head) use reaction runners, which are submerged fully or partially, and include Francis and propeller runners. Low-head turbines (3 to 20 feet) may also use propeller reaction turbines.
Flow range will vary for every project site. The table shows the actual flow used in the turbine, which may be 10% to 50% of the stream flow.
Controls and over-speed control are necessary for stand-alone AC turbines to maintain 60 cycles per second output under varying load conditions. Electronic load governors usually provide this control for AC units, shunting energy to resistive loads. Control is also necessary for grid-tied systems when utility outages occur. Without the load of the utility grid, a hydro turbine will over-speed, possibly resulting in mechanical and electrical failure.
Controls, dump load, and metering included describes what comes with a turbine and what must be purchased separately.
Turbine selection usually begins with determining the site’s available head and flow, including variation in seasonal flows. Selection is also based on whether your system will be grid-tied or off-grid, and with or without batteries. Most turbine manufactures provide online questionnaires to assist in turbine selection.
Most turbine manufacturers publish test results for their turbines at various heads and flows, and with various turbine runners. Charts are prepared and compiled for various nozzle sizes and will be used by the manufacturer to recommend a specific turbine.
The intended use of energy will further determine turbine sizing. There is no point in generating more energy than can be used. Unlike PV systems, hydro-electric turbines generate electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unused energy must be shunted through to the grid, or to diversion loads—typically water or air heaters—to protect the generator. Inverters and battery banks for hydro-electric systems are normally sized to meet peak load, and store excess energy for these loads and motor-starting surges.
The location of a turbine relative to its interconnected battery bank or loads normally dictates turbine generation voltage. A distance of 100 feet or less may permit use of a low-voltage DC generation turbine. Transmission wire size and voltage drop beyond 100 feet may be excessive at low voltage and will often dictate the selection of an unregulated high-volta
Please note I have included both “small scale and large scale water turbine energy” that can be used in all homes and businesses.
There are also two other types of alternative energy that can reduce your energy bill considerably and cut down on carbon output greatly. Although not all that I have mentioned in great detail may be suited to you some alternatives such as wind and solar are used every day in many homes and businesses which are saving a lot on the “energy usage & reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”
The process involves trapping heat underground, then building energy that rises near the surface in the form of heat. When this heat naturally creates hot water or steam, it is harnessed and then used to turn a steam turbine to generate electricity. The Italians were the first to use geothermal energy for commercial purposes in the early 1900s.
Biomass is a very versatile form of renewable energy biomass power plants burn biomass fuel in boilers to heat water and turn a steam turbine to create electricity. Biomass fuel is everything from wood to landfill trash, which is currently being used to convert into methane for the production of dry natural gas. Agricultural research is seeing unique results, including dairy farms in Texas converting cow manure into energy.
International Animal Rescue Foundation © work towards a greener and brighter future not a polluted and toxic environmental ending, it’s our duty to help and make aware the endless possibilities that you and we can work towards in helping to preserve not just our future, our children’s and our natural environment atmospheric conditions but also for the lifelong protection of our fauna and flora.
The possibilities are endless – The future is becoming greener.
Thank you for reading and please do act upon this and share to your friends, neighbours, business colleagues, and more.
Dr J C Dimetri
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