Solar Energy:Is It Viable In Florida? Presented By: Carolyn Greene Justin M. Hojnacki Katie McCarthy
The Greenhouse Effect & Global Warming: What Does It Mean? • The Greenhouse Effect is a natural process. • 4 Greenhouse Gases: Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide & Methane. • Basically, these gases influence climate by warming the lower troposphere and the earth’s surface.
Diagram Of The Greenhouse Effect From: Miller, G. (2005). Essentials of Ecology, Third Edition. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.
Global Warming • It is suggested that humans are interfering with the natural Greenhouse Effect. • As we burn more fossil fuels and continue to clear forests, we are increasing the amount of Carbon Dioxide that is being emitted into the atmosphere. • This translates into more infrared radiation being emitted into the troposphere. • More infrared radiation equals more heat, and thus the temperatures on the earth increase.
Global Warming Continued • We have all heard of possible negative consequences from Global Warming: • Increased sea levels (coastal areas, including much of Florida may be under water). • Massive crop failures due to temperature and rainfall changes. • A domino effect to all creatures on earth.
Reasons To Explore Alternative Fuel Sources • The fear of the potential negative consequences of Global Warming. • Instability in the Middle East (increased oil costs). • Fossil fuels are not a sustainable source of energy – they will run out.
One Alternative Energy Source SOLAR POWER
History of Solar Energy • The first recorded use of solar energy came in 214 B.C.E. when Archimedes set Roman warships aflame with reflected sunlight. From http://www.answers.com/topic/archimedes-heat-ray-gif
History Continued • Dates to the nineteenth century. • In 1839, Becquerel discovered the photo effect. • The first functional intentionally made photovoltaic device was produced by Charles Fritts in 1883. • In 1973, the first solar power residence came into existence in Delaware in direct response to the oil embargo
The Scientific Makeup of a Solar (Photovoltaic) Cell • A solar cell is defined as a semiconductor that converts the energy of sunlight into electric energy. • What are semiconductors? • The most common semiconductor is silicon.
Bohr’s Atomic Model • To understand semi conduction we will look at Bohr’s atomic model: • m℮=9.1093897 ∙ 10-31 kg • According to Bohr’s atomic model, electrons with rest mass revolve around the atomic nucleus in an orbit with radius rn and angular frequency ωn. This orbital movement results in a centrifugal force: • Fz = m℮ ∙ rn ∙ ωn2 • Electrons, each with the elementary charge of an electron • e = 1.60217733.10-19 A s • are held in orbit around the nucleus of an atom by the attractive Coulomb force: • Fc = 1/4π ∙ ε0 ∙ Ζ ∙ e2/ rn2 where ε0 = 8.85418781762 .10-12 A s/V m • and is called the permittivity or dielectric constant. However, for the photo effect, light with its photon energy can provide the energy to lift an electron to a higher orbit. The photon energy is given by: • Ε = h ∙ c/λ • with the wavelength λ and the speed of light c = 2.99792458 ∙ 108 m/s. On average, a photovoltaic cell has four electrons in the outer shell, or orbit. These electrons are called valence electrons (Quaschning, 2005, p.117-118).
Huh? What this means is, on average, on a bright sunny day, the sun shines approximately 1,000 watts of energy per square meter of the planet’s surface, if we captured all of this energy into photovoltaic panels, or large modules of panels, we will have enough solar powered energy to easily run our homes.
Basic Structure Of A Generic Silicon Photovoltaic Cell From (Aldous, 2000)
Solar Power Uses – Water Heaters • Domestic water heating systems typically use collectors that have much lower losses of energy at high water temperatures. • Using a solar thermal water heater, these collectors can be: flat-plate, evacuated flat-plate, or evacuated tube collectors. • Other components are a hot water storage tank, pump and control unit to ensure a hot water supply that is comfortable with what is expected with traditional systems.
Solar Water Heating System Diagram From (Block and Harrison, 2006)
Why Haven’t Floridians Adopted This Technology? Arguments against the use of solar energy.
Arguments Against Solar Energy • Cost: Solar power is considerably more expensive than our current sources of power and electricity. The high price of solar power deters consumer’s interests of converting to solar power. • Funding for solar power is not a top priority in Florida.
Funding Issues • State funding for solar power in Florida has not changed since the gas crisis in the 1970s. • Stagnant at $3.3 million until 2006. • Rising fuel costs have changed funding policy regarding solar energy. • In 2006, Florida’s state legislature set aside $25 million annually for over the next four years to be used to promote the use of cleaner energy sources. • Florida has $100 million to use in encouraging Floridians to develop and use alternative energy sources.
If the state of Florida has $100 million to use to encourage its citizens to switch to solar power, why haven’t we?Florida Power and Light and their influences.
Florida Power and Light (FPL) • According to Florida Power & Light (FPL), it is expensive to convert sunlight to useable electricity in Florida. • FPL contends it would be very expensive if Florida were to install solar materials in residences and businesses across the state, and the pay back would not been seen until many years down the road.
Are these genuine reasons, or is FPL simply afraid of losing their monopoly on Florida’s energy market?
FPL Continued • FPL maintains that there is not enough demand in Florida to have mass production funding for solar energy. • However if the public was correctly informed about the benefits of solar energy, perhaps the demand would increase dramatically. • Let us not forget that FPL pays a lot of money for marketing their agenda.
Cheap Fossil Fuels • Only about 1% of Florida’s energy needs are met by “green” energy. • Our state (and most of the country) is hooked on the low cost of fossil fuels. • We are very much a crack (cocaine) addict, except our crack is fossil fuels. • We are addicted to fossil fuels because they are readily available and cheap when compared to the costs of solar power.
However the United States fails to include environmental costs in the price of fossil fuels. If this were to be done, fossil fuels would no longer appear as cheap.
FPL Continued • FPL has 4.4 million customer accounts in Florida • Of that 4.4 million, only 26,000 customers have voluntarily signed up for Sunshine Energy, a renewable energy program that was launched by FPL in 2004. • They maintain that the interest level by consumers for solar energy is just not there.
By a show of hands, how many people here have heard of the Sunshine Energy Program?
What FPL Doesn’t Tell You • Lack of marketing and public knowledge about the Sunshine Energy program. • FPL promised to increase funding for solar energy based on the amount of people who signed up for this program. • FPL could lose a portion of their $11 billion a year profit to the sun.
Other Arguments Against The Use Of Solar Power • Solar power production takes up a lot of space and requires a lot of land to function. • The solar panels used in harnessing solar power require a large amount of space.
However this does not apply to the individual consumer. Most residences can be outfitted with small roof-top photovoltaic panels that can generate enough electricity for their needs.
Other Countries Have Had Success. Why Can’t We? • Germany and Japan have success in using renewable sources for energy. They lead the world in the use of wind and solar power. • They are able to do this because they have effective policies and subsidies for alternative forms of energy.
The U.S. Compared to Japan and Germany • As the graph above shows, the United States spends more money on renewable energy than Germany and Japan. • However, we are not using this money as efficiently. From (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/rea_issues/fig8s.html)
Additional Con Arguments • Geography • Only about sixty-five percent of the sun’s light reaches the surface of the Earth. • Clouds reduce efficiency of system. • In many areas of Florida the sun is blocked by clouds and rain, making it an unreliable source of constant power.
How does FPL explain the successes of solar power in countries like Germany? It does not take a statistician to determine that Florida has more sunny days than Germany!
Despite evidence and logic to the contrary, FPL still maintains that solar power does not provide Florida with an economical and constant enough way to heat and cool residences and buildings as other resources (coal, natural gas, and oil) do.
Arguments Supporting the Use of Solar Energy • We have abundant and cheap fossil fuels. • Many geologists and physicists believe the abundance is coming to an end. • The United States consistently fails to incorporate the costs of environmental damage into the prices of these fossil fuels. • It is these very costs which increase exponentially and will eventually outweigh the short-term savings we as a society may have reaped by utilizing fossil fuels.
Where The U.S. Gets Its Power • According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2005, 49.7% of all U.S. electricity was generated from coal. • Only 2.3% of electricity was produced by other renewables.
U.S. Electric Power Net Generation In 2005 From (http://www.eia.doe.gov)
Coal is cheap. • We have reaped the benefits without recognizing its liabilities. • Carbon dioxide release leads to global warming.
Coal and its Liabilities • According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, estimated emissions of carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired generation of electricity were 1,788 million metric tons in 1999. • Coal has the highest carbon intensity among fossil fuels, resulting in coal-fired plants having the highest output rate of carbon dioxide per kilowatthour.
With this amount of pollution being introduced into our environment every year, we have two choices: • We can be reactive and try to deal with the results of our consequences later (which is proving to be a failing choice) • We can be proactive and try to eliminate the problems at their source.
Benefits of Solar Energy • It is a renewable energy source. • The initial costs can be expensive, but the long term savings can be great. • After all, the sun won’t raise its prices on us.
Benefits of Solar Energy • Solar energy does not contribute to pollution and this is considered a clean energy source. Using it produces no greenhouse gases and this does not contribute to global warming. • It should be noted that the manufacturing of the photovoltaic cells does produce a limited amount of carbon dioxide.
Wal-Mart • Wal-Mart has decided to join the green revolution. • The retailer will receive proposals from companies that are interested in installing solar power equipment at a yet-to-be determined number of stores in as many as five U.S. states • Just as they’ve brought low prices to consumer goods, they could bring everyday low costs to renewables by using their scale to push the technology and bring down the price.
Individual Investments in Solar Energy • A man recently built a new home in North Port Estates, Florida that utilizes solar energy to power roughly 70% of his needs. • His solar power system is powerful enough to run all his major appliances except his air conditioner and his oven. • He does receive a small amount of power from Florida Power and Light, and has them ability to use more if needed. • After his initial investment for the solar equipment, this man will pay about one third the cost of what a typical Florida Power and Light customer pays for electricity.
More Benefits of Solar Power • Using solar power to run the water heater alone provides the same environmental benefits and energy savings as taking an average car off the road. • In the aftermath of a major storm or a hurricane, the homeowner will still have electricity. • The Environmental Protection Agency said that by using just two kilowatts of photovoltaic capacity, a person can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equal to driving 6,200 miles in a car.
Starting Simple: Photovoltaic Water Heaters • A simple way for an average homeowner to utilize solar energy is by using a solar powered water heater. • A photovoltaic panel can be placed on a non-shaded, south-facing portion of the home’s roof, and would supply more than enough power to function the average consumer’s hot water heater. • According to one online retailer, an average system including installation would cost between $6,000 and $8,000 and can last as long as twenty years. • During a twenty-year period, one solar water heater can avoid over fifty tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Some Simple Math • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, there were 8,256, 847 housing units in the state of Florida. • If every one of these homeowners installed a photovoltaic water heater, nearly 413 million tons of carbon dioxide could be eliminated from the environment in a twenty-year period. • Reducing the greenhouse effect and global warming • Save consumers millions of dollars in non-renewable energy costs.
Solar Energy is Becoming More Affordable • In addition to state subsidies, the technology used in solar power is improving and becoming more affordable. • A new process could reduce the cost of panels by as much as 75%. • This technology is scheduled to be released in just two years.
Competitive Pricing in the Near Future • If this is the case, then the current price of an $8,000 photovoltaic water heater system would cost only $2,000, which is priced competitively with many high efficiency standard water heaters today. • Benefits of capitalism: prices go down as demand goes up.
Table of Targets and Projections for Solar Power for 2004 to 2050 From (http://seia.org/roadmap)