Category Archives: Engineering

Thermal Generation

Thermal Generation Efficiencies

Thermal generation relies on fossil fuels and renewable fuel sources like biomass, biogass, waste=to-energy and geothermal.  The following section indicates thermal efficiency ranges for converting primary energy into electricity based on standard market and state-of-the-art equipment.  The efficiency values reported do not include losses attributed to plant availability such as planned maintenance, unforced outages, and grid curtailments.

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Power Generation Efficiency

 

Introduction

This next several pages present knowledge on power generation efficiency.  The pages provide:

  • Basic engineering definitions of electrical production efficiency,
  • Fuel energy content for a wide variety of fuels, and
  • Power production efficiencies by technology

The most current power production efficiencies are provided based on state-of-the-art equipment that is most recently available on the market or expected to be available within 18 months.  Efficiency tables can be found using the links below:

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Renewable Generation

Introduction to Renewable Generation

Renewable generation includes sources of energy that renew themselves constantly through natural processes and will never run out during normal human time-scales. Renewable energies come from three primary sources: the Sun, heat from the inner Earth, and tidal power.  The Sun, in turn fuels the wind and, indirectly, most biomass resources.

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Fuel Cells

Introduction

fuel_cell2A fuel cell converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity, heat and water through a chemical reaction with oxygen. Hydrogen is the most common fuel and is produced from the steam methane reforming of natural gas, but for greater efficiency hydrocarbons can be used directly, be it natural gas, gasoline, or alcohols like methanol.

Since fuel cells rely on an electrochemical process and not combustion, emissions from fuel cells are significantly lower than emissions from even the cleanest fuel combustion processes.

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Engineering

Welcome to Engineering!  Here you will find a knowledge base of things you need to know about engineering standards and principles that apply to renewable energy. Find the topic you are interested in below.

     Fuel Cells

 

Additional items and section outline in progress
UnderConstruction

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Energy Content of Fuels

Energy Content Explained

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The energy content of any organic fuel is defined as the fuel’s primary energy.  Primary energy is measured given the fuels calorific value or the heat generation from the complete combustion of one unit of fuel under well-defined conditions.  The calorific value can be a gross or net number, depending on whether the combustible heat released takes into account the vapor condensation of water.  Power production efficiency is typically calculated using Net Calorific Value (NCV) after water vaporization.

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Inverters – Central, String and Micro

A solar inverter is a key component in a grid-tied solar power system.  There are 3 types of grid tied inverters – central, string and micro inverters.  This article defines how an inverter works and compares the advantages and disadvantages of each inverter type.

What is an inverter?

An inverter converts the direct current (DC) from a generator into alternating current (AC) for grid and appliance use.

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Cost Breakdown Structures for Solar PV Projects

Modules, inverters and balance of system costs define the total installed cost of a solar PV system.

The three cost components are very simple in nature.  In practice, total cost is defined using a detailed cost breakdown structure.  The structure must also be applied consistently across projects and over time.  The result can be improved cost modeling and management.

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Glare from Solar PV Modules

PV_array_glareA common question concerning the safety of photovoltaic (PV) power systems is the impact of reflected sunlight.  PV modules have the potential to impact neighboring structures or activities, notably aviation.  It is important to know where the reflected light will go and what the intensity of the light will be at any point in time.

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Inverters and Inverter Manufacturers

InverterCosts

Inverter Cost Components; GTM Research

Inverters are key components in any photovoltaic (PV) power system.  Inverters convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).  They control power factor (e.g. reactive power) and ensure power output quality aligns with downstream equipment specs.  And finally, they play an essential role in the protection, operation and communication philosophy of the solar power plant.

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