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In the fable, the wind only causes the old man to grip his coat more tightly, while the gentle sun seduces him into removing it. In reality, the sun and wind, if used properly, are both forms of renewable energy, although at the scale of individual buildings the sun has proven far more useful. Current photovoltaic cell technology makes solar power practical for individual buildings. Solar panels, usually placed on the roof of a building, convert sunlight to direct current (DC) energy. Only about 1/100th of an inch thick, solar cells are usually "rectangular or circular wafers made of silicon (sand), but some consist of a thin film that is mounted on glass or thin metal. An inverter then converts this energy to alternating current (AC). Batteries of such cells are mounted where they have good access to sunlight, generally at a southern exposure. Energy not immediately used may be sold back to the electrical grid, with potential for a negative electric bill. Battery storage is another option for excess solar energy.

Although the cost of photovoltaic cells has dropped drastically, currently energy from photovoltaic cells still costs "about 25 cents per kilowatt hour . . . double to quadruple what most people pay for electricity from their utilities. This high price is largely due to the initial cost of installing the system. However many states offer a variety of incentives, and the federal government also offers financial support for commercial buildings, helping to offset the high start-up price.

The wider social costs of pollution from, for instance, coal, are an environmental factor beyond the immediate cost.


A more currently cost-effective use of solar power is for heating water. A passive system which stores water where the sun naturally heats it, is effective in warm climates. Active systems, needed in colder climates, "rely on electric pumps, and controllers to circulate water, or other heat-transfer fluids through the collectors" to heat water. The use of wind power dates back to well before Don Quixote's epic struggle with the windmills, but today's versions are far more energy efficient. While the large wind farms currently favored often face local opposition, the use of smaller wind turbines on green buildings remains in the exploratory stage. While proponents believe that micro-wind turbines mounted on buildings can compete with solar power, in practice vibrations from roof mounted turbines can cause difficulties for occupants and put stress on a building's structure.

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). CSP systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. PV converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. The concentrated heat is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant. A wide range of concentrating technologies exists; the most developed are the parabolic trough, the concentrating linear fresnel reflector, the Stirling dish and the solar power tower. Various techniques are used to track the Sun and focus light. In all of these systems a working fluid is heated by the concentrated sunlight, and is then used for power generation or energy storage.

This San Diego development features water heating collectors on the roof

A wind turbine on a German building

Biomass provides yet another way to save energy through using-and often reusing- "natural replenishable organic matter to produce energy. Crop and forest residuals are common examples of biomass, with ethanol being a much discussed version. Regarding buildings, "a plant and process energy study revealed the opportunity to use waste materials from operations such as wood waste and saw dust." More such creative reuse of waste is to be expected in the future, "such as hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass to sugars and lignin and thermochemical conversion of biomass to synthesis gas." the principle that a building can be designed . . . structurally to generate and recycle enough of its own energy to become selfsustaining

Despite its increasing benefits, however, locally generated renewable energy has built-in limitations. Depending on surrounding conditions, such energy varies greatly from day to day and season to season. It is therefore most useful as a supplement to conventional energy. In many states, on days that solar or other renewable methods generate more energy than a building uses it may then be returned to the power grid for a net negative balance. Battery storage is another way of handling excess local renewable energy, although current technology is problematic:

The sun continually radiates upon us two resources: heat and light. Passive solar energy is the art of deploying what nature has given to attend our desires with minimal effort or external energy input. Depending upon our immediate needs we might want more or less of either heat or light. The facing and design of buildings can be oriented to maximize these resources when we want them, and minimize them when we don't. "Passive design strategies can dramatically affect building energy performance. These measures include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting. For instance, during the winter we often wish to maximize both heat and light, while in the summer we may want to maximize light while minimizing heat.

Overall, according to one solar architect, "compared to a conventionally designed house of the same square footage, a welldesigned passive solar house can reduce energy bills by 75% with an added construction cost of only 5-10%.

In the northern hemisphere, a southern exposure with glass windows will maximize solar heat gain, while in the southern hemisphere the orientation is reversed. Specific climate and environmental features should be taken into account for more specific features. Concrete, brick, or adobe materials within the house (the thermal mass) will absorb and hold heat. Because the sun is higher in the sky during the summer, the building will take in and trap less heat, providing a built-in mechanism to adjust to seasonal change. Various forms of shading can also help prevent overheating during hot periods. Vents that open near the top of a building will also allow hot air to rise and escape when necessary.

Solar Tube, Vienna, Austria, 2001, uses special glazing that allows warm sunlight to enter while deflecting damaging UV rays. The house's central core absorbs and stores the sun's warmth

In passive heating a structure captures the sun's heat. In passive cooling the design uses overhangs to shade the building in the summer.

An indirect gain strategy to collect and store energy is the Trombe wall, which uses glass and masonry to absorb radiant heat. The addition of vents may help heat to flow inward throughout the house. In general vents, fans, windows, and shades can be strategically placed then opened and closed to regulate temperature

Often a building's occupants will want to use natural sunlight while avoiding glare and heat, particularly in the summer. Daylighting is the use of daylight to illuminate interiors, particularly "the diffuse natural light coming from the surrounding sky and reflected sunlight." Overhangs, shelving, sloping and other strategies can allow light to be reflected into a building yet "prevent direct solar gain and glare."

Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of everevolving technologies. Solar energy technologies include solar heating, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity and solar architecture, which can make considerable contributions to solving some of the most urgent problems the world now faces. Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute solar energy. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.

Earth's land surface, oceans and atmosphere absorb solar radiation, and this raises their temperature. Warm air containing evaporated water from the oceans rises, causing atmospheric circulation or convection. When the air reaches a high altitude, where the temperature is low, water vapor condenses into clouds, which rain onto the Earth's surface, completing the water cycle.

The latent heat of water condensation amplifies convection, producing atmospheric phenomena such as wind, cyclones and anticyclones. Sunlight absorbed by the oceans and land masses keeps the surface at an average temperature of 14 C. By photosynthesis green plants convert solar energy into chemical energy, which produces food, wood and the biomass from which fossil fuels are derived.

Solar energy refers primarily to the use of solar radiation for practical ends. However, all renewable energies, other than geothermal and tidal, derive their energy from the sun. Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive or active depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute sunlight. Active solar techniques use photovoltaic panels, pumps, and fans to convert sunlight into useful outputs. Passive solar techniques include selecting materials with favorable thermal properties, designing spaces that naturally circulate air, and referencing the position of a building to the Sun. Active solar technologies increase the supply of energy and are considered supply side technologies, while passive solar technologies reduce the need for alternate resources and are generally considered demand side technologies

The common features of passive solar architecture are orientation relative to the Sun, compact proportion (a low surface area to volume ratio), selective shading (overhangs) and thermal mass.

When these features are tailored to the local climate and environment they can produce well-lit spaces that stay in a comfortable temperature range. Socrates' Megaron . House is a classic example of passive solar design. The most recent approaches to solar design use computer modeling tying together solar lighting, heating and ventilation systems in an integrated solar design package. Active solar equipment such as pumps, fans and switchable windows can complement passive design and improve system performance.

Daylighting systems collect and distribute sunlight to provide interior illumination. This passive technology directly offsets energy use by replacing artificial lighting, and indirectly offsets non-solar energy use by reducing the need for air-conditioning. Although difficult to quantify, the use of natural lighting also offers physiological and psychological benefits compared to artificial lighting. Daylighting design implies careful selection of window types, sizes and orientation; exterior shading devices may be considered as well. Individual features include sawtooth roofs, clerestory windows, light shelves, skylights and light tubes. They may be incorporated into existing structures, but are most effective when integrated into a solar design package that accounts for factors such as glare, heat flux and time-of-use.

When daylighting features are properly implemented they can reduce lighting-related energy requirements by 25%. Hybrid solar lighting is an active solar method of providing interior illumination. HSL systems collect sunlight using focusing mirrors that track the Sun and use optical fibers to transmit it inside the building to supplement conventional lighting. In single-story applications these systems are able to transmit 50% of the direct sunlight received. Solar lights that charge during the day and light up at dusk are a common sight along walkways. Solar-charged lanterns have become popular in developing countries where they provide a safer and cheaper alternative to kerosene lamps. Although daylight saving time is promoted as a way to use sunlight to save energy, recent research has been limited and reports contradictory results: several studies report savings, but just as many suggest no effect or even a net loss, particularly when gasoline consumption is taken into account. Electricity use is greatly affected by geography, climate and economics, making it hard to generalize from single studies.

Solar water heaters facing the Sun to maximize gain.

Solar hot water systems use sunlight to heat water. In low geographical latitudes (below 40 degrees) from 60 to 70% of the domestic hot water use with temperatures up to 60 C can be provided by solar heating systems. The most common types of solar water heaters are evacuated tube collectors (44%) and glazed flat plate collectors (34%) generally used for domestic hot water; and unglazed plastic collectors (21%) used mainly to heat swimming pools. Deciduous trees and plants have been promoted as a means of controlling solar heating and cooling. When planted on the southern side of a building, their leaves provide shade during the summer, while the bare limbs allow light to pass during the winter. Since bare, leafless trees shade 1/3 to 1/2 of incident solar radiation, there is a balance between the benefits of summer shading and the corresponding loss of winter heating. In climates with significant heating loads, deciduous trees should not be planted on the southern side of a building because they will interfere with winter solar availability. They can, however, be used on the east and west sides to provide a degree of summer shading without appreciably affecting winter solar gain.


Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and rotation of the earth. The earths surface is made of different types of land and water. These surfaces absorb the suns heat at different rates, giving rise to the differences in temperature and subsequently to winds. During the day, the air above the land heats up more quickly than the air over water. The warm air over the land expands and rises, and the heavier, cooler air rushes in to take its place, creating winds. At night, the winds are reversed because the air cools more rapidly over land than over water. In the same way, the large atmospheric winds that circle the earth are created because the land near the earth's equator is heated more by the sun than the land near the North and South Poles. Humans use this wind flow for many purposes: sailing boats, pumping water, grinding mills and also generating electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of the moving wind into electricity.

Wind Energy, like solar is a free energy resource. But is much intermittent than solar. Wind speeds may vary within minutes and affect the power generation and in cases of high speeds- may result in overloading of generator. Energy from the wind can be tapped using turbines. Setting up of these turbines needs little research before being established. Be it a small wind turbine on a house, a commercial wind farm or any offshore installation, all of them, at first, need the Wind Resource to be determined in the area of proposed site. The Wind Resource data is an estimation of average and peak wind speeds at a location based on various meteorological. The next step is to determine access to the transmission lines or nearest control centre where the power generated from the turbines can be conditioned, refined, stored or transmitted. It is also necessary to survey the impact of putting up wind turbines on the community and wildlife in the locality. .

If sufficient wind resources are found, the developer will secure land leases from property owners, obtain the necessary permits and financing; purchase and install wind turbines. The completed facility is often sold to an independent operator called an independent power producer (IPP) who generates electricity to sell to the local utility, although some utilities own and operate wind farms directly. Advantages Can be used for both distributed generation or grid interactive power generation using on-shore or off shore technologies. Ranges of power producing turbines are available. Micro-turbines are capable of producing 300W to 1MW and large wind turbines have typical size of 35kW-3MW. Wind turbine is suitable to install in remote rural area, water pumping and grinding mills Average capacity factor can be close or higher than 30%

OTHER RENEWABLES Biomass (plant material) is a renewable energy source because the energy it contains comes from the sun. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants capture the sun's energy. When the plants are burnt, they release the sun's energy they contain. In this way, biomass functions as a sort of natural battery for storing solar energy. As long as biomass is produced sustainably, with only as much used as is grown, the battery will last indefinitely.

In general there are two main approaches to using plants for energy production: growing plants specifically for energy use (known as first and third-generation biomass), and using the residues (known as second-generation biomass) from plants that are used for other things. See biobased economy. The best approaches vary from region to region according to climate, soils and geography

Biofuel Brazil has bioethanol made from sugarcane available throughout the country. Shown a typical Petrobras gas station at So Paulo with dual fuel service, marked A for alcohol (ethanol) and G for gasoline. Biofuels include a wide range of fuels which are derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases.[Liquid biofuels include bioalcohols, such as bioethanol, and oils, such as biodiesel. Gaseous biofuels include biogas, landfill gas and synthetic gas.

Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. With advanced technology being developed, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, are also used as feedstocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil.

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is the most common biofuel in Europe.

Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet (20%) and from radioactive decay of minerals (80%).

The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface. The adjective geothermal originates from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat

Steam rising from the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station in Iceland.