PacB Group // Renewable Energy – Hope for a Better Future


Renewable Energy – Hope for a Better Future

Never before have our lifestyles, food supply, and means of transportation been as dependent on the planet’s capacity to provide us with a source of energy. We have continued to exploit its vast reserves, including wood, coal, oil, and natural gas. We have even released the energy trapped in the atom, despite the threat of radioactive waste.

Ultimately, the sole aim of this wholesale exploitation is to generate electricity, without which, we can no longer function. This plundering cannot continue indefinitely. Without a source of renewable energy, it is simply a matter of whether we run out of breathable atmosphere, before we exhaust the planet’s reserves of fossil fuels, or vice versa.

While physicists around the world continue the 50-year long quest to perfect cold fusion, a process in which atoms are fused together to release vast quantities of radiation-free energy, others are focussing on less ambitious options. Of these, solar power is currently seen as the most promising. The sun is a gigantic fusion reactor. Under the effect of its massive gravity, hydrogen atoms are fused together to form helium, generating the vast temperatures responsible for the rays ofrenewable energy that travel almost 150 million kilometres to bathe our earth in life-giving warmth and daylight.

There are two main ways in which to use this free and near-inexhaustible source. The simplest use is a batch solar collector. It is simply a means to collect the sun’s rays directly and heat water. It consists of an insulated tank that is exposed to the sun, which heats the water inside. As warm water is removed, more cold water flows into the tank to replace it. Although these structures are not used as commonly, they do save electricity, and, for a DIY enthusiast, they are simple to construct.

Alternatively,renewable energy from the sun’s rays may be utilised to generate electricity, which may then be employed for multiple purposes. This more high-tech approach leverages a physical and chemical phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect, which results from the action of photons on thin films, prepared from special materials known as dielectrics. Although this phenomenon was first documented in 1839, and adapted in 1873 for testing the integrity of underwater telegraph lines, it was only in 1954 that the first solar cell that could convert sunlight into electricity was developed.

Today, when the need forrenewable energy is more crucial than at any time previously, solar panels can be seen on the rooves of thousands of homes around the world, while many power companies are constructing huge solar farms, composed of an array of thousands of individual panels and spans across many hectares. That said, an array of 20 000 panels that covers just over 12 hectares produces an output of just 5MW using current technology. Replacing power from the combustion of fossil fuels seems likely to require thousands of such installations worldwide, and may still be too little, too late.

Other sources ofrenewable energy include the wind and the action of the tides. While wind farms, with their characteristic triple-bladed turbines, are a common feature in most countries today. They are costly and produce only around half the power of solar farms in a similar area. Employing the motion of water in an adaptation of the hydroelectric dam, the action of the incoming and outgoing tides rotates turbines that are positioned in the tidal stream to produce electricity.

In a variation, a tidal barrage acts like a dam, trapping water at high tide to create a head of hydrostatic pressure, which, when released, powers a series of turbines.

Even though tides offer a more predictable source of renewable energy than wind and sunshine, earth’s future depends on all of these technologies and more. Meanwhile, solar solutions from PacB Group offer South Africans a greener future.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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