History of Green Energy

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History of Green Energy

Green energy comes from renewable or natural sources. Green energy, then, is any source of power that is sustainable and not excessively harmful to human health or the environment. A strict definition would include water, wind, tidal, wave, solar & geothermal heat. A more expansive definition would include nuclear power, biomass (wood, crops & algae), biofuel (ethanol & biodiesel) and biogas (natural gas).
Throughout recorded history, humans have searched ways of putting energy to work for them. The quest for faster, easier, and more efficient ways of meeting the needs of a growing human population has led to increasingly high energy demands. The resources currently used for generating energy are running out and the pollution created by the use of these (non-renewable) resources are causing significant damage to the planet's eco-systems. For these reasons, people have started looking at green (renewable) energy sources to reduce pollution while meeting their energy needs.

Biomass
The oldest known use of renewable energy, in the form of traditional biomass (wood) to fuel fires, dates as far back as 790 000 years ago. However, the use of wood for fire did not become commonplace until about 300 000 years ago. Biomass is an industry term for getting energy by burning wood, and other organic matter. Biomass most often refers to plants or plant-based materials that are not used for food or feed.
Burning biomass releases carbon emissions, but has been classed as a renewable energy source, because plant stocks can be replaced with new growth. It has become popular among coal power stations, switching from coal to biomass in order to convert to renewable energy generation without wasting existing generating plant and infrastructure.
Unfortunately, using biomass as a fuel produces air pollution in the form of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, NOx (nitrogen oxides), VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particulates and other pollutants at higher levels than traditional fuel sources such as coal or natural gas. Pollution created by combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass, called Black Carbon, is possibly the second largest contributor to global warming.
10% of the world’s energy is produced from Biomass.

Wind
The second oldest usage of renewable energy is harnessing the wind in order to drive ships over water. This practice can be traced back some 7 000 years, to ships in the Persian Gulf and on the Nile.
The use of windmills was traced back to the 10th century in Persia, then spread to India, China and eventually north into Europe. This technology proved extremely useful for farming, as water could be pumped from streams or lakes to irrigate crops, as wind power was widely available and not confined to the banks of fast-flowing streams.
Wind-powered pumps drained the polders of the Netherlands, and in arid regions such as the American mid-west and the Australian outback, wind pumps provided water for livestock and steam engines.
With the development of electric power in the 20th century, wind power found favour in remote areas far from centrally-generated power. Today wind powered generators operate in every size range between tiny plants for battery charging at isolated residences, up to 8MW sized offshore wind farms that provide electricity to national electrical networks. By 2014, over 240,000 commercial-sized wind turbines were operating in the world, producing 4% of the world's electricity.

Solar Power
The first evidence of solar energy usage dated back to 7th century BC when magnifying glass materials were used to start fires and later in 3rd century B.C., the Greeks and Romans were known to harness solar power with mirrors to light torches for religious ceremonies.
In the late 1700’s scientists had success using sunlight to power ovens for long voyages. They also harnessed the power of the sun to produce solar-powered steam boats.
The discovery that selenium had photoconductive potential in 1873, lead the way to the discovery 3 years later that selenium creates electricity when exposed to sunlight. A few years later in 1883, the first solar cells made from selenium wafers was produced.
The first Silicon Solar Cell was developed in 1953 which was used to power the first US Satellite in orbit four years later. With the price of manufacturing solar panels prices dropping rapidly in the 1970’s, many countries were investing in this new technology and by 1981 the first large scale Solar-Thermal Power Plant (Solar One – producing 10MW) begins operation which uses a method of collecting power was based on concentrating the sun's energy to produce heat and run a generator.
Solar energy has had exponential growth in the last few years producing just over 1% of the world’s energy.

Water
About 2 200 years ago the Europeans used water energy to initially power mills to crush grain, full cloth, tan leather and eventually smelt and shape iron, saw wood, ground spices and carry out a variety of other early industrial processes.
The power of a wave of water released from a tank was used for extraction of metal ores in a method known as hushing. The method was first used in 75 AD. It later evolved into hydraulic mining when used during the California Gold Rush. The use of water power gave way to steam power in many of the larger mills and factories.
Hydropower provided the energy to transport barge traffic up and down steep hills using inclined plane railroads. As railroads overtook canals for transportation, canal systems were modified and developed into hydropower systems.
Technological advances had moved the open water wheel into an enclosed turbine and in late 1870’s the first commercial scale Hydroelectric Plant went into operation.
The world's largest generator of renewable clean energy (hydroelectric plant located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay) has produced more than 2.4 billion MWh since it started operating in 1984. Approximately 75% of the Brazilian energy matrix, one of the cleanest in the world, comes from hydropower.
By 2015 hydropower has generated 16.6% of the world's total electricity.

Biofuel / Biogas
Biomass can be converted to other usable forms of energy like methane gas or transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Rotting garbage, and agricultural and human waste, all release methane gas – also called landfill gas or biogas. Crops, such as corn and sugarcane, can be fermented to produce the transportation fuel, ethanol. Biodiesel, another transportation fuel, can be produced from left-over food products like vegetable oils and animal fats.

Hydrogen
The discovery of electrolysis during the early 1800’s was an important historical step in the development of hydrogen energy and the development of the hydrogen fuel cell in 1838. The infamous Hindenburg incident in 1937 highlighted the dangers of this highly flammable gas and appropriate containment. The US developed Hydrogen Fuel Cells to generate electricity for Apollo and Gemini Space missions in the 1960’s.
The rise of the automobile started in the early 1900’s, with volume production taking off in the 1920’s. 10 million vehicles were produced in 1950 (we should reach the 100 million production mark in 2018) and with it the insatiable need for oil. The reliance on fossil fuels as well as the environmental pollution caused, see governments target vehicles as mayor polluters, which in turn triggered investigations the world over in search of greener technologies to power our future cities and infrastructure.
Hydrogen as a fuel replacement is seen as the ultimate solution for vehicles as the resulting emissions is water.

Geothermal Heat
Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals. 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.
It's clean and sustainable. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few kilometres beneath the Earth's surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma.
To produce geothermal-generated electricity, wells, sometimes a mile (1.6 kilometres) deep are drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water that drive turbines linked to electricity generators.
The world's first Geothermal District Heating System was built in the late 1880’s which lead to the way to the world's first Geothermal Power Plant is built in 1921.
Geothermal energy is generated in over 20 countries but produces less than 1% of the worlds’ energy.

Nuclear
Barely a decade after the Second World War where nuclear power was first used as a weapon of mass destruction, the first commercial Nuclear Power Plant begins operation in 1957. This type of energy production was hailed as the future of green energy as it produces no emissions. However ongoing costs as nuclear waste remains on-site and must be secured, as well as potential clean-up costs from a nuclear incident remains its bugbear.
Several incidents: 1979 - Three Mile Island in the US; 1986 - Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union & 2011 - earthquake off coast of Japan create widespread public opposition to nuclear power.
However, as some countries have or are in the process of decommissioning their nuclear power plants, others are still building new nuclear stations. Nuclear currently produces 14% of the worlds’ energy.

Future
Our reliance on fossil fuel since the 19th century has been a major cause of global warming and pollution of our planet. Public support as well fossil fuel divestment from the wealthy has been placing huge pressure on governments to change their ways.
Fortunately, the future of green energy is looking optimistic as many countries are investing billions into renewable energy development such as energy efficiency programs, energy storage technology, electric grid modernisation, advanced battery development, carbon capture, and other greenhouse gas reduction technologies.

The investment we're making today will create a newer, smarter electric grid that will allow for broader use of alternative energy whilst saving our environment.

Sources

https://www.studentenergy.org/map?gclid=Cj0KCQiAzrTUBRCnARIsAL0mqcxrrvwXnN4nCshRa6pmflRCfI47gbaAopgBrnZPgx0LfwFwIPpdUkIaAndIEALw_wcB
https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000015
http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Energy-Alternatives/The-Development-of-Energy.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_wind_power
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomass
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/geothermal-energy/tech.html
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/geothermal-energy/

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About Brandon Le Roux

I joined Leads 2 Business in February 2005 as an Account Executive. I was promoted to Sales Manager in February 2007, and to Sales Director in November 2012. I manage the Sales, Telesales & Retention teams nationwide. I’m passionate about our company & staff, as well as the great opportunities we bring to our subscribers.

10 Myths about Green

posted in: Did You Know | 0

10 Myths about Green

Most people want to do their part in saving Mother Earth and preventing global warming, make some sort of difference in the world, even if it is by doing something small. Sometimes, however, the small things that you do, doesn’t always seem to be the right thing. There are so many do’s and don’ts floating around that you seem to feel like a small kid with his mother telling you with a pointed finger “don’t do this”, don’t do that” and “ do this and do that”, that you feel you should just crawl into a little corner and remain there for the remainder of your life.

However, never fear, Mythbusters is here (well, almost)

 

Here are a few Myths about ‘Going Green’ that have been, as they say, busted…

 

Myth: The cost of going green is too much. 

Fact: Truth is that some are costly, however in the long haul, developing some ‘green habits’ will save money. In the long run, you will be saving more than what you realize.

Myth: All paper can be recycled.

Fact: Most paper can be recycled; however, used napkins, paper plates and pizza boxes cannot be recycled

 

Myth: Foods that are organic are more earth friendly

Fact: This is not always the case. It all depends on where it has been grown, for example, local fruits and vegetables grown a few kilometres from your house is better than those that are imported. Buying organic is all about weighing the pro’s and con’s

 

Myth: Always turn off the lights when leaving a room

Fact: Turn off your incandescent lights if you plan to leave the room for more than 5 seconds. Turn off your CFL (Compact fluorescent lamp) if you plan to leave the room for more than 15 minutes. The typical incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours, while a 15-watt CFL bulb lasts 10,000 hours and a 12-watt LED bulb lasts 25,000

 

Myth: It is better to wash dishes by hand.

Fact:  Believe it or not, but using a dishwasher is more ‘greener’ than washing by hand. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. By waiting till it’s full, you make the best use of the water and energy needed to wash your dishes.

 

 

 

Myth: Paper Bags vs Plastic Bags

Fact: In actual fact, neither of these is the greener option, it is better to shop with reusable canvas bags

 

 

 

Myth: Holding on to your great-great granny’s washing machine is a way to recycle.

Fact: Older machines and household appliances uses much more power than the newer generation. Machines have evolved with mankind.

 

 

 

 

Myth: Switching your geyser off saves energy

Fact: Switching your geyser off and back on again actually uses more electricity, think of your geyser as a giant kettle, it has an element that heats your water up. When using some of the hot water, it will be ‘topped up’ with cold water causing the temperature to drop a bit. The element will kick in and re-heat the water to the set temperature. When you switch your geyser off the hot water will slowly go cold. Switching the geyser back on will cause the element to heat up all the water in the geyser, which uses more electricity than needed. If you go away on holiday then it will be plausible to switch your geyser off as to not use electricity. Alternatively, you can switch to a solar water heating system.

 

 

 

Myth: Small electronic devices don’t need to be unplugged

Fact: Any device that is not in use can draw some sort of current, such as a cell phone charger. If your mobile phone is not charging then unplug the charger. Even when they are “off”, TVs, electronic equipment, WIFI routers, and computers continue to draw electricity all day. Put them all on a power strip and shut them totally off at night or when you leave the house to reduce energy use and save money.


Myth: Doing your washing in cold water won’t get your washing clean.

Fact: Washing your clothes in cold water will get rid of any dirt, except for the worst dirt or oily stains (this can be washed in hot water), leaving your clothes looking and smelling clean, but without the energy spent on heating the water.

 

 

There are many simple ways you “can do” to help. Take the leap, take the small step, plant a tree and always remember the 3 RE ’s: ReduceReuseRecycle.

 

 

 

 

 

Together we can help to save Mother Earth and look toward a better future.

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/13-ways-to-go-green-simple-ways-to-save-the-environment/
http://www.isotherm.co.za/switching-off-geyser-really-save-energy/

 

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To view notes with screenshots on how to use our website, please visit our Wiki site.
To view more articles, please visit our blog.

 

About Nadine Vermeulen

I started working at Leads 2 Business in October 2014 in the Leads 2 Quotes Department. I managed all the Daily Tender Bill Requests and followed up on BoQ's for our Daily Tender Subscribers. In 2017, I was promoted to L2Q Assistant and now work with Bill of Quantities for Contractors. 🙂

Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

What is a Carbon Footprint?

 

A Carbon Footprint is defined by the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.

When researching the ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint there were endless articles, so many in fact I nearly got lost in the green of it all. Let’s break it down.

10 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint:

  1. Plant a Tree – A classic and for good reason. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide.
  2. Energy Efficient Appliances – Look for the energy rating when purchasing appliances. The current South African label gives a rating from A down to G; with A being the best for refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and electric ovens. For most appliances, insist on an A-rated appliance, they are not difficult to find. (Old refrigerators in your house may be the inefficient equal of a G-rated fridge.) In addition to the letter rating, the label should carry an energy consumption number in kilowatt hours. It is often more useful to compare this number between models than to compare the letter rating.
  3. Switch Off – Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off your computer when not in use, a computer that is off uses at least 65% less energy than one left on screensaver/standby. Unplug electronic devices when not in use.
  4. Drive Smart – Go for a hybrid when purchasing a new car and if you aren’t going to be doing that anytime soon make sure you keep your current vehicle properly maintained. Carpool if you can, the benefits are obvious. One car uses less fuel than two and much less than three. If you can’t carpool, stick to the following Carbon minimising tips: Don’t idle, travel light, accelerate smoothly, limit air-con use, warm up your car and plan ahead.
  5. Use CFL’s and LED’s – That’s Compact Fluorescent Lamps or Light Emitting Diodes. CFL’s use 75% less energy than an incandescent and last up to 10 times longer. LED’s are also extremely energy efficient; although not widely in use due to their cost, there is no question that LED’s are poised to supersede CFL’s in the future.
  6. Local is Lekker – Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport that food. The same concept goes for other goods and services as well as not to mention, you will be supporting the local economy too.
  7. Go Digital – There has been a lot of debate regarding the environmental costs of digital vs. print. The best policy to adopt is, “be mindful”. If you subscribe to a print paper, be sure to recycle your paper every day. If you prefer online news chose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of your browsing time.
  8. Shower Power You can also install a “low flow” shower head to limit the amount of water being used and take shorter showers.
  9. Recycle – Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to rubbish dumps and incinerators; prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials; saves energy; reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change; helps sustain the environment for future generations and helps create new jobs. Once you get in the habit of separating your cans, plastic, glass, paper and cardboard, it’s as easy as pie.
  10. Compost & Grow – It makes sense that what nourishes us from the earth should go back to nourishing the earth. Plant your own herbs and veggies. Not only does growing your own food make you a more conscientious global citizen, it brings you a sense of satisfaction.

 

Long story short, the more pollution that we let into the atmosphere, the worse it is for the environment. No matter what your view is on climate change these tips can save you money. Most of them don’t take that much time or effort and at the end of the month you may notice less coming out of the bank account which is a plus at any rate.

Why not start by calculating your Carbon Footprint here

 

 

Reuse Reduce Recycle
Reuse Reduce Recycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.carbonfund.org/reduce

http://cotap.org/reduce-carbon-footprint/

http://www.carbonfootprint.com/minimisecfp.html

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint/drive-smarter-for-a-better-planet/

About Sasha Anderson

I enjoy making new professional acquaintances and corresponding with existing clients. Reach out if you want to talk, L2B, social media, construction, technology, shoes, dachshunds, popular culture or travel.

Why be Revolutionary? (The Sequel)

 

 

In my previous post, ‘Why be Revolutionary?’ I talked about the rise in popularity of alternative energy sources in South Africa. This is growing in impetus all over the world as resources become more scarce. The billions of people on the planet are realising that the onset of global warming was not just a conspiracy theory after all and that something needs to be done, quickly, to start remedying our current and ever growing impact.

The term Revolutionary has always seemed to me to be a word that implies movement? Why? It is a major and sudden impact on society or human endeavour according to Wikipedia. If you look at some of the famous revolutionaries in history (whether you agree or disagree with their principles and actions), none of them achieved the status of being a Revolutionary by doing nothing.

To name a few:

Spartacus : A slave leader who led a revolt against the Roman empire and in doing so became symbolic of revolutionary leaders fighting oppression.

William Wallace : (Who could forget Mel Gibson with war paint on?) Scottish rebel who led an uprising against the English during the Scottish wars of independence.

Joan of Arc : A revolutionary who inspired the French Dauphin to renew the fight again English Forces.

Mahatma Ghandi : Ghandi inspired non violent protests against the British.

 

But why am I going on about revolutionaries? Well, regardless if action was carried out peacefully or with force, the point is that there was action, movement, sudden impact. I had the opportunity to briefly discuss the ‘power play’ in Africa with one of our Project Researchers, Marlaine Andersen. She had some interesting points to make about her research in relation to the power (or lack thereof in some cases) in Africa:

“In terms of history – The African and SADC countries, like South Africa, have not made any provision for the expansion of their cities and town, the population growth and influx into the towns from the outlying areas, neither have they maintained the existing power grid infrastructure and as a result most countries in Africa have a huge power deficit, with load-shedding being a regular occurrence in many countries and many poor people having no access to power whatsoever. In recent years, many of the African and SADC countries have started making plan, raising funds etc. in a bid to generate more power through different sources, like hydro power, wind power, transmission lines, power stations, etc.”

Some of the more recent projects are:

Gas and Oil :

  • Construction of a 350MW gas-and oil-fired combined-cycle power plant in the municipality of Kpone, within the Tema industrial zone, in Ghana. Tema, Ghana’s major residential and industrial city, has the largest sea port in the country. It is about 24km from the international airport in the capital, Accra. Estimated project value : $900-million
  • Construction of a 50MW gas power plant in Rwanda in Central Africa.
  • NamPower (Pty) Ltd, the national electricity utility of Namibia, is developing the Kudu 800MW CCGT Power Station near Oranjemund in south-western Namibia. The combined cycle power station project will use natural gas from the Kudu Gas Field which is located 170km off-shore. Estimated Project Value: N$13.8 billion.
  • Namibian electricity utility, Nampower’s plans to build a new 300MW power station and waste oil recycling plant the heavy industrial zone of Arandis in Erongo, Namibia. The source of the coal to fire the power station has not yet been decided. Nampower would seek to identify all potential environmental, social and health impacts associated with the project, so as to manage these in accordance with international standards.

 

Electricity Highway :

  • Construction of an electricity highway between Ethiopia and Kenya, approximately 1068km of high-voltage, direct current 500kV transmission line and associated alternating current/direct current converter stations from Wolayta-Sodo, in Ethiopia to Suswa in Kenya, with a power transfer capacity of up to 2000MW. The total estimated project cost is $1.26 billion.

 

Hydro :

  • The 2067MW Lauca hydro-power station is being developed on the Kwanza river between the Cambambe and Capanda project in Angola. The project includes the development of a 132m high roller-compacted concrete dam, with a crest length of 1075m. The plant will comprise two units with six Francis turbines, each with an output of 340MW, and generators as well as additional equipment. The power station will supply power to about 750 000 people.
  • The project involves the construction of the 40MW Kabompo Gorge hydropower station to be located between the Solwezi and Mwinlunga districts at Kabompo Gorge on the Kabompo river in the north western region of Zambia. The development of the plant on the Kabompo river will help reduce the constant power outages occurring in the region. The power station will have an installed capacity of 1 600 MW and includes a 181-m-high roller-compacted concrete cavity arch dam, a radial-gated crest-type spillway and two underground power stations on the north and south banks of the river, each with four 200 MW vertical-shaft Francis turbine generators. The project is designed as a run-of-river scheme, with an estimated average energy generation of 8 700 GWh/y. Estimated project value : $120 million.

 

Coal :      

  • The construction of a 150MW to 300MW coal-fired power station(with potential to upgrade to 800MW) in the Erongo region of Namibia, known as the Erongo Coal-fired Power Station. The proposed project has a total estimated price tag of between R4-billion and R7-billion.

 

Action is always better than stagnation. Does Africa like South Africa has power issues? Of course! We, as a continent, are developing at a rate faster than anticipated (or planned – regardless of whose fault it may be). Life doesn’t tend to play by a set of guidelines. This continent is most certainly revolutionary. Sometimes the actions taken are not the ones we would specifically choose and sometimes to the detriment of her people, but the point is, there is also action being taken that is in a direction to build and improve. Take a look at these projects and see for yourself.

 

I suppose my question is really, “what am I doing to be part of this revolutionary continent?”

I leave you with the words of Martin Luther King Junior “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. What is your next move?

About Carmen Barends

Social Media adventurer exploring new frontiers and learning how to survive. Tongue in cheek and mischief are the order of any good day topped with a sprinkling of laughter.