How Can AI Impact Renewable Energy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has quickly made its way through various industries and businesses. New technological developments have changed the way many processes are completed, and when it comes to AI, the possibilities seem endless. AI technology uses data and advanced algorithms to think, calculate, analyze, and predict information systematically. The idea is to mimic that of a human brain (with a little extra brainpower). In the energy industry, artificial intelligence plays three primary roles:

Energy Forecasting 

Weather forecasting isn’t only a large part of meteorology. In the energy industry, weather forecasting is essential. AI algorithms use industry data to make accurate weather forecasts that will impact renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. Because these power sources are highly based on the weather, they tend to fluctuate, making it more difficult to balance supply and demand. Tech companies use data mining to pool data from the industry with weather forecasts to make accurate predictions. 

Energy Efficiency 

Aside from using AI for weather forecasting, companies like Google have acquired AI applications like Deepmind, to improve the use of energy. After Google’s acquisition of Deepmind, the AI application reported a 40% reduction in the amount of energy it took to cool Google’s data centers. Deepmind’s AI technology was used to train a system of neural networks in the data centers. The neural network then learned the function of the data center and started to identify areas for improvement and optimization. 

Energy Accessibility

For accessibility purposes, AI is used to model potential savings costs on utilities using energy industry data, mainly in the smart home sector. For example, energy-conscious homeowners can use AI applications to assist with energy management within their homes. Homeowners can see collected data recording how much energy their home appliances use, thus assisting in monitoring monthly utility costs. 

The future of artificial intelligence in the energy industry is likely going to increase as businesses and homeowners seek the ability to make more accurate predictions and save on energy costs.

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This article was originally published on blakezimmermanhouston.net 

 

 

The Positive Impact of Renewable Energy

Energy is a necessary need for every human being on Earth. Harvesting and utilizing natural resources is a vital part of survival for both individuals and societies. As technology advances, how energy is collected has also become more efficient. Unfortunately, many energy providers still rely on antiquated resources such as coal, wood, and natural gas. These types of natural resources can no longer satisfy the massive energy needs of an increasing global population–at least not without an expensive and harmful impact on the environment.

Many people are familiar with solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources of power; however, innovations in hydrokinetics, biomass, and other forms of sustainable energy have bolstered the number of alternatives to non-renewable energy. 

There’s no way to eliminate the environmental impact of harvesting energy, but the process of extracting energy from these cleaner sources releases minuscule carbon emissions compared to classic energy plants.

Beyond considering the future of the planet, there is also an immediate economic benefit to renewable energy. Construction and maintenance of renewable energy plants are much less costly than their non-renewable equivalent. More labor is also needed, leading to increased job opportunities. Finally, public health has been impacted by the adverse effects of non-renewable energy, causing the healthcare sector to bleed money from national wealth.

Coal, oil, and gas are being used at a much faster rate than they can naturally form, leading to their inevitable exhaustion in the future. The disastrous effects of non-renewable energy are self-instigating. As carbon gasses take their toll on the availability of clean air and water, as well as raising the global temperature, natural disasters are becoming more of a risk. Events such as droughts and heatwaves have terrible effects on non-renewable power plants. On the other hand, wind farms can work in a modular system that mitigates the impact of destructive situations.

Leaders around the world have already committed to increasing the use of renewable energy, yet there is still much progress needed to protect ourselves and our environment. At one point, whale oil was the preferred energy source for keeping a light on at night; now, it’s time for humanity to look towards a cleaner and safer solution to meeting energy demands.

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This article was originally published onblakezimmermanhouston.net 

Pros and Cons of Hydropower

Renewable energy sources have been on the rise as home, and business owners become more environmentally conscious. Hydropower, specifically, is the most widely used source of renewable energy. According to the USGS, hydropower represents about 17% of total electricity production. Hydropower plants utilize running water stored in dams or naturally flowing rivers to create electricity. The water rotates turbine blades that spin a generator to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. While hydropower is a great way to minimize air and water pollution, like many other forms of renewable energy, there are pros and cons. 

Pros

Minimal Pollution 

One of the most significant advantages of hydropower as an energy source is its minimal pollution level. Since hydropower is fueled by water, it’s a clean form of fuel; meaning, the plants won’t pollute the air like other power plants that produce energy using fossil fuels like natural gasses or coal. 

Low Operation and Maintenance Costs 

Hydropower plants have much lower operating costs than other energy-generating plants that use fossil fuels. River water is a constant resource, so any volatility in the economy doesn’t cause an impact. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are primarily impacted by economic fluctuations, causing their prices to quickly fluctuate with any changes in the market. 

Renewable 

Because hydropower generates energy through the water cycle and the sun, it is considered a renewable energy source. This works hand in hand with the low market costs to make hydropower a reliable and affordable energy source.   

Cons

High Investment 

Although hydropower is a reliable energy source with low operation and maintenance costs, initial investment costs for hydropower plants can be high. “Hydroelectric power plants are very costly to construct due to logistical challenges like topography, laying foundations underwater, and the materials used to build it. The only upside is that after completion, it will require less maintenance.”

Negative Impact on Aquatic Habitat

With the potential for environmental benefits, hydropower can also cause some environmental damage, especially when it comes to aquatic life. Building dams for the plants can impact the breeding season for fish, as well as create an unfortunate food shortage, ultimately leading to a drop in reproduction rates and a rise in overall death for various species of fish.

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This article was originally published on blakezimmermanhouston.net

How Can Solar Energy Benefit the Environment?

Environmental concern is increasing rapidly, and people are trying to do what they can to be more environmentally conscious. Renewable energies have become a significant focus for many homeowners, business owners, and large corporations across the United States. Solar energy, for example, is being widely used by big businesses and regular homeowners to preserve energy and become more environmentally friendly. Here are a few ways solar energy can benefit the environment:

Can Improve Health 

The use of solar energy can drastically decrease the potential for air pollution. Air pollutants are often responsible for many respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular problems. The widespread use of solar energy would significantly reduce the emittance of nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide, both of which can cause serious health problems. Overall, solar panels can be used as a source of energy that won’t contribute to air pollution. 

Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

Greenhouse gasses are produced when fossil fuels burn; they are one of the main contributors to an increase in global temperatures and climate change. Your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced by the use of solar energy and other renewable forms. According to Vivint Solar, “As the carbon count continues to increase, so will our retention of heat from the sun. These changing air conditions will continue to affect different climates, causing some to warm, others to cool, and causing weather patterns everywhere to become more sudden and volatile.” 

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Is Wave Power the New Solar?

Is Wave Power the New Solar_ _ Blake Zimmerman Houston

Out With the Old, In With the New?

Solar energy is a great way to generate usable energy from a source that is readily available to most places. Though solar energy is great it is not always the best option for certain places. Therefore, many other forms of renewable energy are being researched. One of the most profound sources of energy currently is wave energy.

Wave Energy

Waves are created by a variety of environmental forces. The most common force that people know is the force of wind, which creates waves as it hits the surface of the water. Gravitational pull, the force generated by the interactions between the sun, earth, and moon, is also responsible for the creation of waves. These waves, though created by energy that moves through water, also generate energy.

Attenuators

Wave energy can be captured by a system that utilizes attenuators, a device that works opposite to the way that an amplifier works. The wave energy is captured by attenuators that sit perpendicular to the direction of the moving waves. As the waves continue to move along the body of the attenuator, the attenuator continues to move as well. The movement of the attenuator transfers to a hydraulic pump which then converts the wave energy into usable energy.

Absorbers

Absorber systems utilize buoys to capture wave energy from the surface of the water. The energy is transferred through a series of cables and underwater devices to an undersea substation. A linear or rotary generator is then used to convert the energy into a usable form of electric energy.

Water Columns

Oscillation water columns (OWC) use a combination of water, air, and gravity to create pressure within the column system. Air is transferred as the system is continually pressurized and depressurized. The transferred air is then pulled into an air turbine which subsequently converts the energy into usable energy.

Devices

There are two types of devices that can be used to convert wave energy: overtopping devices and inverted-pendulum devices. Overtopping devices utilize turbine systems to drain water and convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Inverted-pendulum devices, as suggested by their name, use an upside-down pendulum device to sway with waves. A series of hydraulic pumps and electric generators then convert the energy transferred by the inverted-pendulum device.

Originally posted to BlakeZimmermanHouston.net.

Developing Commercial Solar Farms: The Process and How to Make Them Profitable

Developing Commercial Solar Farms_ The Process and How to Make Them Profitable _ Blake Zimmerman Houston

In 2018, 1.6% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. was powered by solar energy. Now, that number may seem small, but considering how often and how much energy we use on a daily basis it is actually quite substantial. What’s more, solar power is only increasing in popularity—and not just among those looking to make greener choices, but with savvy and innovative real estate developers.

Solar power has consistently “ranked either first or second in capacity added to the U.S. electric total every year since 2013.” As such, many states are beginning to see the advantage of solar farms, specifically their low costs and low cost distribution-level interconnections. With the right piece of land, landowners and developers can take advantage of solar power’s growing popularity.

Developing a commercial solar farm is similar to many development projects in that your plans must abide by local zoning laws, covenants, or restrictions.

A Solar Energy Primer

A basic understanding of solar energy is absolutely vital to ensuring a reasonably sized project, as well as a realistic goal for yourself. Here are some basic numbers and terms that can help you better understand solar power and how it’s measured:

  • The sun continuously emits approximately 173,000 terawatts of energy, which is a more than adequate amount to cover the world’s average use of 15 terawatts a year. Though there is a bounty of energy waiting, it is difficult to collect.
  • There are two methods of collecting solar energy, photovoltaic solar cells and solar thermal, and they both require vast amounts of sunlight with little to no interference.
  • Energy output is often measured in gigawatts per hour (GWh) or in megawatts. 1 gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.
  • According to The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a farm using photovoltaic cells would need at least 2.8 acres of land to produce 1 GWh per year. Therefore, a farm would need to cover approximately 32 acres to produce enough electricity for 1,000 homes.

Picking the Land and Land Rights

On average, one megawatt of solar energy can power about 200 homes, so most experts recommend using 6-8 acres of land per megawatt. Acquiring the solar panels to produce a megawatt will total around $3 million dollars. In general, for development costs to balance out, your farm should produce at least one megawatt, if not more. If you’d like your farm to have the capability to cover more homes, you’ll need many, many acres of land to develop.

Landowners will often lease out their property for the development of wind and solar farms in order to generate a profit out of unused land. Whereas wind farms allow extra space for the landowner to use, solar farms take up much more ground space, and therefore may result in a landowner charging more for your use of their land. If leasing land, experts recommend you choose sites that are low in agricultural or mineral value, as they will often cost significantly less and allow for a larger return.

Some of the best advice about developing solar farms comes from attorneys who specialize in the matter. They argue that “in order to maintain the deductibility of land cost for federal income tax purposes, it has usually, historically been best that the project entity not acquire fee title to the land.” However, larger projects may be interested in buying the fee title, as it might have advantages when it comes to economic and water rights.

Permits

To develop and run a commercial solar farm, an energy facility permit must be filed and approved. In most cases, developers can file through their state or local jurisdiction, but if the property sits on federal land a permit must be submitted to the federal government.

Permits and application processes vary from state to state. Some states in the U.S. have councils who directly oversee and approve where energy facilities can be built. Midwestern states often have their public utilities commission oversee the application process for energy facilities. In some places, state approval is enough to begin development. In others, both state and local permits must be filed and approved separately.

In addition to the permit process, the federal government, as well as each state and local government, may apply environmental and land use rules to your project.

The federal government will work to ensure the project isn’t encroaching on Army Corps permits or endangered species by requiring the completion of an environmental review. They will analyze how the development will impact the built and natural elements around the site, such as wildlife, water, and roads/traffic patterns. State and local governments will conduct their own environmental review and analysis of the project.

Interconnecting

The whole purpose of developing a commercial solar farm is to give people the ability to use your product to power their home. In order for that to happen, solar farm developers and owners must work with local utility companies to connect your project to the utility grid.

Though it is illegal for them to deny you the right to connect, they may warn against it. In many areas of the United States the cost of interconnection is sky high. Knowing the fees associated with interconnection can help you gain a better idea of the viability of your project.

The best way to identify the potential cost of interconnectivity is to examine the utility service’s online interconnection maps, if they have them. You’ll need to locate wires on your property and identify which voltage they are from on the map. From there you can decipher how much interconnectivity will cost.

Solar power is only increasing in popularity—the uses and possibility for greatness keep increasing as well. In order to collect enough solar energy to make a real impact, more and more solar farms need to be built. Real estate developers have a great opportunity to make a real difference, as well as jump on a growing trend, by getting into the solar power arena.

Originally published on BlakeZimmermanHouston.net.

How to Prepare for a Power Grid Failure

Every day, people use electricity without a second thought. From switching on the lights to charging devices, electricity is used to sustain the way of life. Although it is used every day, not many people understand the power it takes or where it all comes from. All of America’s electricity comes from an electric grid that is run from asset owners, manufacturers, service providers, and government officials.

As the electronic infrastructure begins to age, the Office of Electricity (OE) is looking for new ways to transform, improve the ways of electricity, and prepare for a possible power grid failure.

Demand for Modernizing Electricity

For generations, electricity has been conducted one way. The ways of old electricity must come to an end and make way for new innovative technology. There is a higher demand for more efficient and reliable electricity. This way there will be far fewer power outages and other technical difficulties. Time and time again, storms cut out power and leave the public in darkness for sometimes days. By modernizing electricity, this will be a thing of the past. Not only will service be restored faster, but consumers will also be able to manage their usage and costs of electricity with a more modern approach.

Introducing ‘Smart Grid’

In an effort to modernize the power grid, the ‘smart grid’ is now being developed. The smart grid concept uses two-way communication technologies, control systems, and computer processing with sensors known as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) that alert operators of grid stability. It also gives consumers the ability to gain information on outages, recovers from outages more quickly through its sensors, has automated feeder switches that reroute power around problems, as well as batteries to keep excess energy to have readily available later in order to meet customer demand.

Benefits of a Modern Power Grid

Over the years, OE has put a considerable amount of investment and research into modernizing technology. Because of their efforts, the public could see a shift in the ways of the power grid. As they create innovative technologies and techniques for more reliable energy, there could be a safer and cheaper way of providing consumers energy. By having a system to analyze and optimize information to properly manage energy, less money will be put in fixing power outages and less electricity will be used irresponsibly.