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Solar Insolation – Understanding & Measuring

Solar Insolation Map of the US

If you do anything at all with solar energy, you keep running across this term solar insolation. Note the spelling “insolation”, and not “insulation”, which is the stuff you put into walls to keep your house warmer. So what is solar insolation, how is it measured, how can I find out the solar insolation for my location, and how can I used this information in my solar application?

What is Solar Insolation?

If ever there was a confusing term, this one is it. Of course you can always consult the invariably comprehensive Wikipedia, but you may end up even more confused. According to this site, the strange term comes from the phrase: “INcidnet SOLar radiATION“. It is the amount of energy from the sun over a given time period. In contrast, solar radiance is the instantaneous power coming from the sun. While both are typically measured in kW/m2 , radiance is an instantaneous measure, while insolation is a measurement over time. Therefore, it is only correct to state insolation as kW-hrs/m2 .in order to show the cumulative time measurement.

There is another complication – … Read the rest

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Refuelable Battery

flow-cell-MIT

Batteries are the weak link in both off-grid energy applications as well as electric vehicles. Until this obstacle is overcome, these much needed uses will remain niche areas. Since I believe almost all of our problems can be overcome if we set our hearts and minds on solving them, I think effective electric storage technologies will be eventually developed.

There are some new developments hold promise. One of these is a refuelable zinc-air battery. This battery uses zinc pellets in an alkaline electrolyte. It has the advantage that zinc is abundant, cheap and safe. It is also easily recycled. You can read a short PDF file describing the technology – here. The other new development is for what is called a “flow cell” being developed by MIT. This battery uses a liquid lithium-based electrolyte. It also is refuelable.

I remember when I was a boy, carbon-zinc cells were the only batteries around for household use. Alkaline cells were new, exotic and expensive. Now we have cheap rechargeables that dwarf those batteries. What the future holds is anyones guess right now, but it looks bright.… Read the rest

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The End of Peak Oil

This stunning article asserts that the era of  “fossil fuels” may not be near the end, but at the beginning. New technologies are permitting the recovery of vast lower grade deposits of gas and oil that contain enough energy to last for centuries. This new development does not even take into account the abiogenic theory of oil formation. This theory holds that oil deposits are not fossil fuels at all, but are being continually produced by ongoing natural processes within the earth. While rejected by western geologists, this theory has experienced a resurgence and is credited with providing Russia the abundance of oil it now enjoys.

Regardless of the means by which energy is discovered and recovered, this good news vindicates yet again that people are our greatest assets. Here at ProvideYourOwn, we reject the overpopulation dogma. It is not resources we lack, but imaginative minds, willing hands, and freedom to create and enjoy the fruit of our labor. These things have given the world the prosperity it now enjoys, and it is these things we must cherish and reclaim if we are to see it continue.

Notwithstanding these developments, we still favor the development of individual energy supplies … Read the rest

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The Coming Energy Revolution

With ever rising energy prices and the constant talk of peak oil, the future appears to be very grim. Entire segments of our society are so sure of the demise of modern life that they are already planning for a post-oil era – a time when energy is scarce and expensive.

I hate to be the one to disappoint them, but while we are entering a post-oil era, it is not an era of scarcity. Just the opposite. Instead of reverting back to horse and buggy in the not too distant future, energy will become so abundant that the need for crude oil will go the way of the need for whale oil. How can I make such a fantastic claim, especially when all the facts seem to be to the contrary? The answer is simple – there are massive changes under way that will dramatically change the way we obtain, store and transmit energy. They are plain to see if you know where to look, but very few people are looking. Instead, they are focused on the old sources and paradigms. The new sources and paradigms are gaining steady headway and soon will overtake the old ones. When … Read the rest

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