Book: Integration of Alternative Sources of Energy
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Our goal in writing this book was to discuss the ‘‘electrical side’’ of alternative energy sources. From the beginning, we felt that this approach would be a challenge that would be very difficult to fulfill. Most of the current technical work explores just one or two types of alternative energy sources, but the integration of sources is our main objective. We also noticed that most of the works on this subject were concerned exclusively with those aspect of primary energy related directly to extraction and conversion of power rather than the processing of energy and delivery of a final product. This product—energy—should be ready to power a new reality and the dreams associated with renewable or alternative sources of energy. These sources of energy have a lot in common. However, when beginning to discuss hydro, wind, solar, and other sources of energy, their complexity is soon realized.Not long ago, huge generating power plants dominated the entire field of energy production. It seemed that there was no way to develop and deploy small and dispersed alternatives. For several decades, small plants nearly vanished from the scene. This was a worldwide trend based on the argument that electrical efficiency and concentrated sites would be incontestably the best economic and rational choice for generating electricity. Throughout those decades, small rural communities and remote areas were simply outside the scope of the centralized model. Population growth and the development of nations soon made our society realize that more and more local and distributed energy production would be necessary for continuous industrial growth.On the other hand, the availability of energy would not be enough, or would be so distant from consumption points that central power plants would have devastating effects on ecology, scenery, and quality of life. For a sustainable energy future, massive fossil fuel–powered plants are not economical; most of them waste more than 50% of the primary energy due to irrecoverable thermal losses. In addition, they demand the use of massive coolers and heat sinks to guarantee the operational conditions, quality, and stability of the final product. The energy must be transported throughout long and congested transmission lines, resulting in greater and greater waste, which is no longer reasonable. Small, dispersed generating units do have the possibility of adding representative amounts of energy to the network without noticeable long-term impact on the environment and economic investment.