There is no question that energy costs in Ontario are high. There is also no question that renewable energy sources are gaining in momentum and that larger numbers of people are interested in finding out more about them. Although most folk are not ready to overhaul their existing power source structure, it is worth knowing that there are some very viable alternatives on the market and that they are becoming more accessible every day.
Forms of renewable energy
There are four basic forms of renewable energy:
Harnessing the Sun
The most popular form of renewable energy is that of solar power. Given the sun’s immense potential it makes sense to harness its energy. There are three types of solar power technologies available. Here they are as described on the Microfit Power Authority website:
Solar PV using crystalline technology
Solar PV panels using crystalline technology generate electricity by converting the sun’s rays into direct current electricity using a crystalline semiconducting material made of silicon. Generally, these systems use panels made up of a number of individually manufactured photovoltaic cells that are assembled together in panels. The panels are then strung together to form the arrays of a solar PV system to provide higher voltages and more power. These systems tend to make use of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells/panels. Monocrystalline panels are more expensive, but are also more efficient, and so produce more wattage that a similarly sized “polycrystalline” panel.
Solar PV using thin-film technology
Solar PV uses thin-film technology in which the cell and module are manufactured in the same production line, created by depositing one or more layers of photovoltaic material on top of a semiconductor material in a single process. These modules are much thinner and lighter than crystalline solar PV modules; however, they have lower efficiencies and therefore often require more panels for a given area than crystalline panels.
Solar PV using concentrated technology
Concentrated Solar PV concentrates the sun’s rays through a lens, or by using a mirror, onto highly efficient solar cells, increasing the power output of the system. These solar panels are generally mounted using a tracking system in order to use the sun’s rays more efficiently by increasing the amount of time the solar cell is exposed to direct sunlight.
Water (Hydro) and Wind
Water and wind power are also both very effective and clean forms of renewable energy although not quite as popular as solar as they require a large space and access to a windy spot and/or a constant water supply such as a stream or river.
Bioenergy is produced through the natural decaying process of residual waste products from a number of sources including agricultural by-products, forestry operations, livestock activities and food processing operations.
Renewable Energy and the Government
The Ontario government actually has a very attractive program to help subsidize those who are interested in switching to renewable energy sources. Through the Microfit program, you can have your renewable energy source hooked back up to your electrical grid so that any excess energy you produce will go back to the grid and you get paid for it. The full details of this program can be found over here //microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/.
For an indepth account of a homeowner who took the plunge and installed solar panels to his home, go over here //www.yourturn.ca/solar/. The informative site answers all the questions you might have on solar technology including the installation process for the entire system, the cost and how much you can expect to get back from the Microfit program.
Renewable energy systems are still in their infancy, but have since immense leaps recently. Moving forward expect to see more new construction projects offering these clean and green technologies as alternatives to existing technologies.