Gas & Electricity Amidst In New Energy

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Wind generated electrical power exists through harnessing wind-power energy with turbines. To fully understand wind generated electrical power, one must understand how wind powered electricity is made; resources needed to utilize wind power; types and sizes of wind turbines; building a wind turbine; potential positive and negative impacts of the technology; where wind powered electricity can be effectively generated; and, offsetting the costs of wind powered electrical technology.

The technology of wind generated electrical power functions by creating electricity through the use of various styles of wind turbines. Initially, one might ask, “So how do wind turbines make electricity?” Simply said, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

The primary resource of Wind powered technology is, of course, wind. Wind is very abundant in many parts of the United States and other parts of the world. Wind resources are branded by wind-power density classes, ranging from class 1 (the lowest) to class 7 (the highest). Good wind resources (e.g., class 3 and above, which have an average annual wind speed of at least 13 miles per hour) are found in many areas. Wind speed is a critical of wind resources, because the energy in wind is proportionate to the cube of the wind speed. In other words, a stronger wind means more power.

Wind resource development requires land and may compete with other uses of that land, and those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. However, wind turbines can be positioned on land that is also used for grazing or even farming. Wherever a wind farm is to be built, roads are cut to make way for shipping parts. At each wind turbine location, the land is graded and the pad area is leveled. Wind energy also requires the building of wind turbines.

Modern wind turbines fall into two basic groups: the horizontal-axis variety and the vertical-axis design, like the eggbeater-style Darrieus model, named after its French inventor. Horizontal-axis wind turbines typically either have two or three blades. These three-bladed wind turbines are operated “upwind,” with the blades facing into the wind. Darrieus models, or vertical-axis wind turbines, have two vertically oriented blades revolving around a vertical shaft.

In addition to different types, there are many different sizes of wind turbines. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts. Larger turbines are grouped together into wind farms, which provide bulk power to an electrical grid. Single small turbines, below 100 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications, or water pumping.

Small turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and photovoltaic systems. These systems are called hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations, where a connection to the utility grid is not available.

The first step in building a wind turbine is setting up the tower where the fiberglass nacelle is installed. The nacelle is a strong, hollow casing that contains the inner workings of the wind turbine. Usually made of fiberglass, the nacelle contains the main drive shaft and the gearbox. Its inner workings also contain blade pitch and yaw controls. The nacelle is assembled and attached onto a base frame at a factory.

The most diverse use of materials and the most experimentation with new materials occur with the blades. Although the most dominant material used for the blades in commercial wind turbines is fiberglass with a hollow core, other materials in use include lightweight woods and aluminum. Wooden blades are solid, but most blades consist of a skin surrounding a core that is either hollow or filled with a lightweight substance such as plastic foam or honeycomb, or balsa wood. Wind turbines also include a utility box, which converts the wind energy into electricity and which is located at the base of the tower. The generator and electronic controls are standard equipment whose main components are steel and copper. Various cables connect the utility box to the nacelle, while others connect the whole turbine to nearby turbines and to a transformer.

There are a variety of potential positive and negative impacts of wind powered technology.

Potential positive impacts include:

• Wind energy is friendly to the surrounding environment, as no fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity from wind energy.

• Wind turbines take up less space than the average power station. Windmills only have to occupy a few square meters for the base; this allows the land around the turbine to be used for many purposes, for example agriculture.

• Newer technologies are making the extraction of wind energy much more efficient. The wind is free, and we are able to cash in on this free source of energy.

• Wind turbines are a great resource to generate energy in remote locations, such as mountain communities and remote countryside.

• Wind turbines can be a range of different sizes in order to support varying population levels.

• When combined with solar electricity, this energy source is great for developed and developing countries to provide a steady, reliable supply of electricity.

Potential negative impacts include:

• Wind turbines generally produce less electricity than the average fossil fuelled power station, requiring multiple wind turbines to be built.

• Wind turbine construction can be very expensive and costly.

• Wind turbines can have a negative impact to surrounding wildlife during the build process.

• The noise pollution from commercial wind turbines is sometimes similar to a small jet engine.

• Protests and/or petitions usually confront any proposed wind farm development. People feel the countryside should be left intact for everyone to enjoy its beauty.

Places in the world where wind blows strong and often, people and businesses can harness the wind as an option to use in the generation of electricity. Globally, these places include much of North America, southern South America, Greenland, most of Europe, Northern Africa, eastern Asia, most of Australia, and anywhere there are mountains or large hills. The top 5 countries producing electrical wind power in 2007 were: Germany, United States, Spain, India and China, respectively.

Considerable wind speeds also occur across oceans and large water bodies. Since most of the world’s population lives near oceans, wind farms with strong offshore and onshore breezes could produce an abundant amount of electricity. On land in the USA, the major wind corridor is the Great Plains which includes the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The wind corridor also extends into the states west to the great mountains west, including eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. There are also considerable wind resources in eastern and southern Minnesota and the entire state of Iowa, diminishing south through Missouri and east through southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Parts of New York and the New England states also have considerable wind.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that wind power could supply the US with 100% of its electricity, just from the Great Plains wind corridor or from offshore wind farms alone. According to the “Pickens Plan,” a $10 billion wind farm with 2500 generators can supply enough energy for 1.3 million homes, and for $1 trillion the Great Plains wind corridor could supply 20% of America’s electricity. That would be about 250,000 generators to supply 130 million homes.

In a report published by the U.S. Department of Energy, “20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply,” that report concluded that:

• Reaching 20% wind energy will require enhanced transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting regimes, improved reliability and operability of wind systems, and increased U.S. wind manufacturing capacity.

• Achieving 20% wind energy will require the number of turbine installations to increase from approximately 2000 per year in 2006 to almost 7000 per year in 2017.

• Integrating 20% wind energy into the grid can be done reliably for less than 0.5 cents per kWh.

• Achieving 20% wind energy is not limited by the availability of raw materials.

• Addressing transmission challenges such as siting and cost allocation of new transmission lines to access the nation’s best wind resources will be required to achieve 20% wind energy.

Although wind generated electrical power seems to be an unlimited resource, and, the best wind sites appear to be competitive with market electricity prices in most U.S. regions, several factors exist that make it a less appealing source of alternative energy in terms of economic cost. First off, wind is not uniformly priced resource. Its costs vary widely depending on project scale, wind speed, region, and other factors. Second, the benchmark for comparison with wind to other fuels varies regionally. Third, extra revenue is required to make a project viable, sunk costs are considerable.

To offset the factors that make wind powered electricity a less appealing source of alternative energy and promote its continued growth, wind energy in many areas receives some financial or other support to encourage development. Wind energy benefits from subsidies either to increase its attractiveness or to compensate for subsidies received by other forms of production, such as coal and nuclear, which have significant negative impacts. In the United States, wind power receives a tax credit for each Kilowatt hour produced; that was 1.9 cents per Kilowatt hour in 2006. The tax the credit has a yearly inflationary adjustment. Many American states also provide incentives, such as exemption from property tax, mandated purchases, and additional markets for “green credits.” The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 contain extensions of credits for wind, including micro-turbines.

Secondary market forces also provide incentives for businesses to use wind-generated power, even if there is a premium price for the electricity, socially responsible manufacturers pay utility companies a premium that goes to subsidize and build new wind power groundwork. Companies use wind-generated power, and in return they can claim that they are making a “green” effort.

Undoubtedly, further tax credits, subsidies and incentives will also be needed to achieve the goal of 20% Wind Energy by 2030. Today, wind power approximately accounts for about 2% of the electricity generated in the United States.

The technology of wind generated electrical power functions by creating electricity through the use of various styles of wind turbines is a very viable alternative energy. Although wind generated electrical power does have some negative impacts, this author feels that in terms of long-term cost and benefit compared with other types of energy, such as the burning of fossil fuels, using a renewable resource such as wind generated electrical power economically, environmentally, and socially is making more and more sense.

Several years ago, a gas fire was classed as a decorative feature that will create a focal point for your living room. Gas prices we’re considerably lower than they are now so the emphasis on manufacturers was to make a gas fire look as realistic as possible resulting in a gas fire that looked just like a real coal fire but extremely costly and inefficient. With heating bills constantly rising, requirements have now changed and home owners don’t want to spend money on an appliance that loses most of the heat produced up the chimney or using a fire that uses so much gas that they need to have a draughty air-vent fitted in the room to meet current safety regulations.

The past five years have resulted in a dramatic change to the heating market. Whilst the fires being manufactured still offer a realistic living flame, efficiency has proved to become the number one consideration when consumers are looking for a new gas appliance and the majority of models now being offered boast high-efficiency and are now classed as a heating source that can be used independently from your main central heating.

Whatever flue type your home has, or even if it has no flue at all, there is still a gas fire that will be suitable. With milder winters, many of these models will be sufficient to heat the room they’re in meaning you don’t need to run the central heating all the time if you’re spending the majority of your time in just one room. This will save you considerably on your utility bills which is an important factor in the current climate.

Class 2 Pre-Cast Flues

Usually found in homes built from the 1980’s, a pre-cast flue is a shallow flue built within the walls cavity using concrete blocks. The concrete blocks normally change to a steel pipe in the loft and terminate through a raised ridge tile on the roof. The options of gas fires available for this type of flue used to be very limited but now manufacturers have brought out a large number of slimline appliances for pre-cast flues. Options available consist of traditional outset fires that sit on a hearth rather than being inset. A closure plate covers the flue opening and a spigot on the back of the fire connects into a cut-out in the closure plate allowing the fumes to enter the flue. Outset gas fires with radiant bars are still classed as excellent heat providers and due to the fact that most of these fires have controls ate the top and are easy to operate, they are very popular with elderly users.

Slimline, inset models offer the beauty of a ‘living flame fire’ but the shallow fuel bed means they will fit into a narrow, pre-cast flue. Several models are available with a total depth from only 100mm ensuring they will fit into all flues. These models are designed to be combined with a fireplace surround and suitable back panel & hearth. If you are looking for a new fireplace, it is worth purchasing a fire surround with a larger rebate which will allow the back panel to sit further away from the wall giving the an option of fitting a deeper, more realistic gas fire into a shallow flue.

Class 2 Pre-Fabricated Flues

Again, this flue type is associated with houses built-in the past 30 years. Pre-Fabricated flues are constructed using a 5″ steel pipe usually situated within a built-out stud wall. Gas fires designed for pre-fabricated flues have lower emissions although depending on the depth of the wall where the fire is fitted on, a deeper fuel bed is easier to accommodate.

Class 1 Flues

With a Class 1 flue, there is very little restriction on the gas fires you can have. A Class 1 flue is normally a brick-built chimney found in older properties. Due to the depth available and the size of the flue inside the chimney, most gas fires can therefore be fitted. This includes the popular ‘hole-in-the-wall’ style fireplaces that are raised up from the floor and do not require a hearth protruding into the room. It is important that a real, brick-built chimney is checked for soundness before a new gas appliance is fitted. Over time, chimneys can deteriorate and a registered gas installer will perform a smoke test to ensure that the flue is performing adequately and without any leaks. If a leak is detected and cannot be rectified, a steel flue liner will need to be fitted. If a 7″ liner is fitted, this will still mean that the flue is a Class 1. If a smaller, 5″ liner is fitted, this will change the flue grade to a Class 2 and limited the type of gas fire you can have.

Open or Glass-Fronted Gas Fires

Nothing beats a real, open-flame gas fire for adding ambience into a room. Whilst this fire type is still very popular, it doesn’t offer the efficiency of a glass-fronted gas fire. The main reason is due to the fact that to prevent any of the toxic fumes produced by a open-fronted gas fire entering the room, the flue outlet is large to ensure all the fumes go up the flue. With this, a lot of the heat produced is also lost up the flue (approximately 40-50%). This may not be an important factor if you only use the fire occasionally and prefer effect of a open flame, however, there has recently been a huge increase in the sales of glass-fronted gas fires.

The glass panel prevents any fumes produced from the fire entering the room. This means they can linger around the fuel bed longer achieving more heat whilst using less gas. Many boast net efficiency of up to 90% whilst still retaining a realistic flame pattern. People are often concerned that the glass will get dirty, if this does happen, it is normally the result of the flue not performing properly rather than an issue with the fire itself. The glass is easily removed and cleaning annually when the fire is being serviced is normally adequate on a fire fitted into a properly functioning flue.

Gas Fire Controls

The standard control option on most gas fires is a manually control Piezo normally at the bottom of the appliance. It is concealed behind a removable section of the fret and consists of a control knob that get turned to the ignition setting whilst the igniter button is pressed to create a spark. Safety features on all modern fires will not allow gas to continue to pass through the fire unless the thermo-couple part of the ignition knows there is a flame. If the flame was to go out, it would automatically stop any gas coming through.

A popular method of control now offered on a selection of gas fires is a high-level slide control. This is a lever at the top, right hand side of the fire that allows you to turn the fire on/off and control the flame height without bending down. Normally battery operated, this type of control is considered he best option for elderly users as it’s simple to operate and reliable.

Remote control is now common on a variety of gas fires. A remote handset is used to control the flame height and on sequential remote controls it also ignites the pilot light. Child-proof safety features on the handset normally require two buttons to be pressed at once and some models incorporate a thermostat function allowing you to set the handset to a certain temperature and the flame automatically turns down once the room has reached the desired figure. On non-sequential models, the pilot light has to be manually lit first before the remote handset can control the flame height. It is common for fires with this type of control to keep the pilot light on at all times when the fire is used frequently.

Installation & Service

Gas fires must only be fitted by a registered installer. In the UK, the Gas Safe Register is the official list of engineers who are approved to work on gas appliances. It is imperative that you choose a registered installer for safety and to conform to  warranty conditions. All gas fires require annual servicing to ensure they continue to perform efficiently and safely. This is also a condition of any appliances offered with an extended warranty.


When it come’s to having any work carried out on a gas appliance in your home, you must use someone who is gas safe registered, this is the law in the United Kingdom, other countries may have similar regulations.

Lets say you are looking for someone to service your gas boiler, the only person who can carry out this work, is a gas safe registered engineer – plumber, if one of your friends tells you they have a friend who can service the boiler and it will be cheaper for you, then unless he is registered you should not let him near your boiler.

Everybody who works on gas has to be registered with Gas Safe, they also have to be registered for the gas appliance they may work on, so how do you know if someone is registered to work on gas?

All gas safe engineers carry an identification card which you as the gas user should always ask to see, on this card will be the picture of the person who is registered. You will also see the gas safe registration and licence number along with the expiry date. These details can be found on the front of the card.

On the back of the card you will find details of what gas appliance the engineer can work on, this is very important to check over, it also states what gas they can work on, be it natural or LPG gas.

To give you an example, lets say you want the boiler serviced you should check the card and look for boilers, if boilers are not on the card then they cannot service your boiler.

Everyone who is registered with gas safe renews their membership each year. The expiry date of all members is 31st March, so if someone presents a card out of date they are no longer registered to work on any gas appliance. Should someone tell you they have misplaced their card and are waiting for a new one to arrive, they are not allowed to work unless they have their card with them.

You can also check the credentials of any gas engineer by going to the Gas Safe Register website, hear you can find out everything about what gas appliance the engineer can work on. I would always advise you to check the website just for peace of mind. If any of his details don’t tally up, then it’s your responsibility as a gas user to find someone who is fully qualified for the work to be carried out.

Landlords

Landlords who rents out their properties must by law have a gas safety check carried out every 12 months without fail, this involves checking any gas appliance connected to the supply is safe to use. The gas supply within the property has to be checked for tightness at the meter. Once the safety check is completed, the engineer will issue a certificate with his findings. The tenant must also have a copy of this certificate.

With rental properties, should a new tenant move in with 6 months left on the safety certificate, it is the landlords responsibility to have the property checked over again and a new certificate issued, the reason being you don’t know what the previous tenant may have done to any gas appliance or the supply. I know that sounds a bit drastic but it does happen.

Penalties

There are big penalties being given out by the courts and this includes being sent to prison for anyone breaking these gas regulations, and should something happen where you need to make a claim on your home insurance you may find your insurance is void because you have used someone who was not qualified to work on your gas appliance.

Safety

Safety is very important when it comes to working on gas, don’t ever try and fit a gas appliance yourself, you may think it’s easy to do, it may be, but other safety checks need to be carried out as well. Don’t risk your families lives just to save a few pounds, it could cost you a lot more.

If you’re going to learn about electrical safety for kids, you should know the dangers of damaged or faulty electrical cords. Have you ever wondered why appliances have cords with a rubbery coating?

The rubber coating is actually an insulating layer that keeps the electricity trapped inside. An insulator is like the opposite of a conductor. A conductor lets electricity travel through it, whereas an insulator doesn’t.

An appliance cord has both a conductor and an insulator. The conductor is on the inside, letting electricity from your wall socket reach the appliance. The insulator is on the outside, trapping the electricity within the cord and protecting you from electrical shocks.

It’s very important to make sure that you use appliances and cords only the way they were intended to be used. That’s why manufacturers provide instructions and safety information in manuals.

Apart from the general ‘how-to’ instructions, manuals tell you what not to do. When it comes to electrical safety for kids, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. When you follow the manufacturer’s instructions word for word, you’ll be doing all the right things for your electrical safety, giving yourself the best chances of avoiding an electrical mishap.

Following instructions and using appliances only the way they were intended to be used will ensure that you don’t damage the insulating layer on the cord. Remember, the insulating outer layer of the cord is what keeps the electricity trapped inside. Without it, the electricity could ‘escape’ and travel through you when you touch it.

No education of electrical safety for kids can be complete without understanding what a ‘live wire’ is. A live wire is essentially a cord with electricity passing through it, but without the insulating outer layer. Since a live wire is not insulated, touching it would allow the electricity from the cord to pass through you.

Sometimes, a live wire inside an appliance or a toy may come into contact with the inside of the device. When this happens, touching the device would be just like touching a live wire. Since you cannot tell just by looking whether there is an exposed live wire inside an appliance or toy, you should always consider the possibility, and be as safe as you can.

If an electrical appliance looks old or damaged, inspect it first before plugging it in. Most devices we come across are built rather sturdily, and chances you won’t come across any live wires, or get shocked from a damaged device.

An electric shock is not always fatal, but it always hurts. What you should know is that even a very small amount of electricity can kill, and that you should never experiment with it. Even ‘just to see how it feels.’

It’s not that just big power lines or big appliances are dangerous; even regular-sized electrical appliances around the home can cause shocks that can kill.

When learning about electrical safety for kids, you should take a moment to understand how electricity is measured. Electrical current is measured in amperes. 1 milliamp is 1000th of an ampere, meaning that 1,000 milliamps is equivalent to 1 ampere and 2,000 milliamps is 2 amperes, and so on.

The most that 1 milliamp will do is give you a small shock that you can just feel. It’s an uncomfortable, tingling sensation. A 5- to 10-milliamp shock has a ‘glue’ effect, holding onto the person and not letting go easily. Understandably, it’s much more painful than glue.

A 20- to 50-milliamp shock has serious consequences, with burn injuries, rapid heart and pulse rates, and in some cases, death. Electric shocks over 60-milliamps are almost always fatal.

You can see how careful you have to be with electricity when you consider that even ordinary electrical devices can easily deliver shocks above 60-milliamps, including mundane things like electric shavers, light bulbs, hairdryers and the like. For your electrical safety, always take all precautionary measures before operating appliances.

Depending on the severity, an electric shock can cause weakness, muscle spasms, shallow breathing, rapid pulse rate, burns, unconsciousness and even death. In an electric shock, the part of the body that the electricity flows through becomes very hot, very rapidly. Severe burns can result on the body, along the path of the electricity. The skin is most susceptible to burns, especially around the parts where electricity enters or leaves the body.

Learning about electrical safety for kids is easy. And it’s even easier to implement the tips, follow the advice and go by the rules. There are only a few things you have to remember. And if you do, you’ll be practicing electrical safety for the rest of your life.

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