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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coal - future of an old fuel

Coal is among the very first energy sources used for the production of power. First via steam-powered machines, later via electric power plants.

Chinese were among the first ones to use coal as an energy source, as early as 1000 BC. Interestingly, they are today the first producers and consumers of such energy source today, after 3 thousand years!
Almost 70% of electric energy in China comes from coal, while the figure is much smaller in other countries like USA, and keeps decreasing in basically all European countries.

Major coal producer are China and USA, which (together with Russia) hold also the biggest reserves. There exists however solid Canadian coal companies and also many Indian coal companies.
The importance of such companies for worldwide economy has increased since the increased cost of crude oil, which recently made coal an interesting and viable energy source again.
Moreover, coal reserves and resources are geographically much more distributed than oil reserves, and this makes them critical from a geo-political point of view. Also for this reason, coal reserves and coal companies are finding proper place in the strategy of investment funds and stock markets.

In the meanwhile, because of the recent concert for environmental issues and greenhouse gas reduction, clean coal technologies are being investigated and partly implemented in the coal extraction and burning process.

Readers of this blog are very much aware that moving towards a smart grid, populated by renewable energy sources, also requires traditional energy sources like coal. It is agreed, in the engineering community involved in the transition towards a smart grid, that a mixture of energy sources is the best way to cope with intermittent renewable energy sources, fluctuating demand, and long term investments in green energy. Each energy source has its own particular features, and the only thing that everybody agree now is that, at the moment, there is no energy source (nuclear, fossil, solar, wind, ....) that can be adopted alone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home energy audit

A home energy audit is sometimes called a home energy assessment and it is the first step needed to find out how much energy your home is using at any given time. What this will tell you is

  • how to use your energy better and 
  • what steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. 

Most times, your home energy audit will show things you may not have realized were going on in your home that cause damage or more cost down the line. That could save you significant amounts of money over time!

Most assessments will pinpoint exactly where the loss of energy is coming from and how to fix that problem. The technician doing the audit is certified to assess your home and can make available all options for the quick fix, if needed, or the permanent fix that allows you to relax comfortably knowing you have done everything you needed to do to your home while you live there to make it the most energy efficient possible.

Let's face it, in these hard economic times, the best thing you can do for your home is to save a few dollars in it!!

A home energy audit includes an affordable whole-house evaluation of the existing home designed to

  • lower energy bills, 
  • increase energy efficiency, 
  • improve comfort and 
  • increase property resale values. 

To lower heating and air costs, call for a home energy audit from energy wise today.
Did you know that in Canada a home energy audit can qualify you for provincial and federal government rebates? This is a great reason people contract them. You can qualify for grants/rebates for new windows, toilets, insulation, washers/dryers, heaters, doors, etc. with proper revisions made to your home to make it more energy efficient.
Seems like the best decision you could make for your home!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smart microgrid solutions in San Diego

As said many times in this blog, the fact of introducing new distributed generation of electric power (solar panels, etc.) bring new opportunities together with new challenges.

Many people know what the opportunities are: minimization of energy cost, reduced carbon footprint, reduced peak load, and so on.

However, a smart microgrid needs many control and management devices in order to run effectively and to be reliable. Some "intelligence" capable of monitoring the energy production and consumption, exploit storage devices, sell and buy energy on the market, and so on.

At Power Analytics (a company based in San Diego, CA... home of Qualcomm, among others) they bet on a centralized solution, a big master unit that supervise the entire microgrid in order to keep everything under control.

Not everybody agree: other solutions include "distributed intelligence", where many peers cooperate without any central unit. Something like the Internet, where no central controller has the computational power of managing the entire network, which is instead sustained by the connected devices in a cooperative and synergistic way.