14 Feb 2012
Community Power Generation A Better Alternative?
Article by Sustained Living
We all know that green energy production is one of the most important aspects to sustainable living. The question it seems is “how do I produce my own power at a more realistic cost?” Renewable energy systems that are community focused instead of individual focused system maybe the answer. Community based renewable energy systems can provide power to small neighborhoods by placing solar, hydro, or wind power generation on unusable land. Installing these systems in dedicated areas reduces the need to mount systems on individual houses and delivers power in a more systematic method.
Often times erecting wind turbines 30 feet in the air, solar cells drilled into our roofs, or hydro power plants near a stream in our backyard just is not possible when worrying about fall lines, shading, flooding, and possible property damage. Allocating space for energy storage for individual systems can reduce living and storage space in homes drastically in addition to the increased cost for consumer level equipment. Troubles from installations like rewiring homes, rooftop installations, damage to property from installations, meeting safety requirements, cleaning, maintenance, inspection, general unit operation, and repairing the units after failure can be complex for average consumers and require knowledgeable professionals to keep the systems operating at peak performance. While these individual systems do eventually payback the installation costs they can take a substantial amount of time depending on the size and complexity of the system installed. In some cases systems can take up to 25 to 45 years to pay back the costs and require additional maintenance and system expansion costs making it harder for owners to expand there systems to meet growing needs.
Community based renewable energy systems contain their own dedicated land for installations and are surveyed for usability of the area, taking into account fall lines, shading, flooding, and areas for bulk energy storage and distribution systems. The area can be used to install higher capacity more efficient energy production and distribution systems reducing the costs up to 40-50% through bulk buying and on-site professional installation and maintenance crews. The professional ground level installations provide better safety for the neighborhoods as they remove the chance of damaging property. The proximity of the units to the point-of-use eliminates possible transmission losses which attributes to on average a 7-10% energy loss in the national grid. Incentives for the renewable energy projects can be managed professionally as a group rather than individually enhancing the payback of the system lowing costs and allowing for smoother growth of the systems until reaching full capacity. Since the cost of installation is shared by the community as a whole it makes the initial start-up cost more reasonable and allows for better scaling of the energy production systems. The community based renewable energy system provides more high end technical jobs for communities and quicker maintenance during times of crisis. Users of community based renewable energy systems require no operation knowledge by using the existing infrastructure and providing them with the option of being automatically sustainable.
While community based systems do not offer all the solutions they can be a step in the right direction lowing costs, reducing payback costs, eliminating maintenance and installations by direct users, and providing better safety for communities.
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For more sustainable living ideas http://www.sustainedliving.orgOriginal article can be found at Community Power Generation