Sun, Wind and Fuel Cells


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Jumping on the bandwagon while sales are slow may produce unforeseen advantages in the future.

Solar arrays

Flat solar arrays can be mounted in various fashions: on the roof of your building, on the roof of a parking structure, or in arrays mounted on the ground. In any of those cases the angle with respect to the ground is set to optimize the array's exposure to the sun. Typically the output voltage of a single solar panel (which in turn is made up of an array of individual cells) is on the order of 24V; these units obviously can be connected in parallel to provide a higher current capacity. A Kyocera KD205, for example, will put out about 150W with 800W per square meter of irradiance; this is 6A at 24Vdc out. The size of this array is 59" by 39" by about 1.5". The cost of this particular array is on the order of $1000.

I'm quite sure many enterprising broadcast engineers could develop their own systems out of building blocks such as this particular solar array.

The output of the solar array will obviously be greatest when the rays of sun are perpendicular to the array itself; simple trigonometry shows the output of the array is going to be proportional to the sine of the angle of incidence between the rays of sunlight and the array. Therefore it would seem that to maximize the output of the array, some sort of steering, to keep the arrays at the optimum angle with respect to the sun, is called for. The Premiere Power Solar Tracker is one such system that accomplishes this. Another system which does this, in a totally passive manner, is the Zomeworks Universal Track Rack. This device uses gravity and the heating power of sunlight itself to align the flat arrays for maximum output.

Wind turbines take more consideration than solar panels, like height, trees, noise and other nearby structures.

Wind turbines take more consideration than solar panels, like height, trees, noise and other nearby structures.

If you are thinking big, though, and want to generate a more substantial amount of power via photovoltaics, you might want to consider Solfocus of Mountain View, California. They make use of technology known as CPV, or concentrated photovoltaics. This system generates more power with the same amount of irradiance; additionally the system tracks the sun. You can learn more about a project that Solfocus did with KGO radio from the article Feel the Power in the July 2008 edition of Radio magazine.

Wind turbines

Recovering energy from the wind is not quite as simple as getting it from the sun. Though the sun shines everywhere every day (to some extent anyway) the amount of wind that an area gets on a day-to-day basis isn't that obvious. If you want to consider using wind power, then the first thing to do is to take a look at this website: www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp. From this site you can get a very good idea about what the potential for wind power is at your particular site.

Assuming you've determined your site has good potential, there are other factors that need to be considered before you purchase a wind turbine. Wind turbines are mounted on towers, typically 40" to 50" high. They do make a certain amount of noise, and are negatively affected by the presence of trees and other structures nearby that make the air more turbulent. Therefore you should plan on having open land around the base of the tower (about one acre for a 40" to 50" tower is what I have been told). Obviously you should investigate any zoning restrictions that may be in place at the area in which you desire to build the tower.



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