Trends in Technology: Alternative Power

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Solar panels

Image used under a CC license. Baker

Have you ever had to generate your own ac power for more than say, 24 hours? If so, then likely you know how difficult it can be. Access to utility power is an aspect of our work that most of us completely take for granted; and, for just about every studio or transmitter site we would build, there is an automatic assumption that utility power is available, and rightly so.

What happens, though, when you need to build a remote site that is so far off-the-grid that there is no practical (meaning economical) means by which you can get utility power? Does one simply write off the potential site, even though it might be fantastic in every other way? That would certainly be “letting the tail wag the dog.” Let’s look at means of generating your own power — all the time.

High in the mountains of southern California, this PV array provides much of the energy needed for KLRD’s transmitter facility.

The Economics of Generating Power

Before we get into the subject in detail, it’s clear that there is a practical limit to power generation at a remote site. Whether or not you decide to build your own “power plant” is going to depend on several factors:

1. How much power is really needed at the site?
2. How much will it cost, in both up-front and on-going expense?
3. How much will it cost to get utility power installed at the site?

Clearly the answer is going to vary with each and every site and circumstance. The first question you will need to calculate; the third is going to depend upon the particulars of the site; and we can address the second question at least in terms of the items that need to be considered as you calculate costs.

- continued on page 2

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