Renewable Energy Primer

Wind farm Solar farm

Renewable energy sources seem to be a just-in-time technology to save us from climate change (global warming), air pollution, ground water contamination, and geologic instability caused by fracking. It's been a hurdle to get here given the massive political opposition to renewables and support for coal and petroleum-based energy.

This presentation covers the evolution of the renewables movement and focuses on current products and technologies. Wind turbines have evolved into massive structures that now generate 25 times the power of early models. The largest solar farms now cover thousands of acres of panels. However, wind and solar are not constant power sources, so we need to build excess capacity to compensate for idle periods. To deal with the intermittent power generation, we need energy storage systems to smooth out the power availability.

As for renewables being non-polluting technologies, there's a caveat. They're non-polluting once they're installed. Mining for raw materials, manufacturing, and installation is very much carbon-producing. This presentation will get you up-to-speed on the realities of renewable power quickly.

Prerequisite:
C100Numbers (or equivalent knowledge)
Suggested pairings:
E102Safe Nuclear Power
E103The Politics of Nuclear Energy