Energy sources that do not rely on the consumption of an exhaustible fuel. Tidal, geothermal, and the direct and indirect solar energies (direct: photovoltaics, CSP, solar thermal; indirect: wind, wave, biomass) are renewable energy.

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34
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3answers
2k views

Wind generators - why so few blades?

Why commercial wind generators usually have just 2-3 blades? Having more blades would allow to increase power OR decrease diameter. Decreased diameter would also reduce stress due to different wind ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation?

Are tidal power plants slowing down Earth's rotation to the speed of the orbiting moon? (1 rotation per 28 cca days) Are they vice versa increasing the speed of moon orbiting by generating some ...
12
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6answers
7k views

Are Fresnel lenses widely used for solar electricity? If not, why not?

I was just wondering why Fresnel Lenses are not widely used in the production of solar electricity. Their use there would mean that you could produce heat within a fraction of a second, up to a few ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Where does electricity go from a solar panel that is not plugged in to anything?

I found a similar question here on this site, but my question is slightly different. If a solar panel is exposed to sunlight but is not plugged in to anything--dc load, inverter, etc--where does that ...
10
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3answers
3k views

Where does the electricity, generated by a solar panel, go if you don't use the electricity?

I'm sorry if this question is too trivial for this Q&A forum. I am a layman when it comes to physics (though I did cover the high-school physics courses). I was wondering what happens to the ...
10
votes
2answers
509 views

Energy from man-made tornadoes

Peter Thiel just paid $300,000 to Canadian inventor Louis Michaud who is working to construct useful "man-made tornadoes" or "atmospheric vortex engines" which could be components of future power ...
9
votes
3answers
219 views

What does the quantification of causes and effect look like, for clouds in offshore wind turbine wakes?

At Horns Rev windfarm off the coast of Denmark, sometimes in winter, clouds appears in the wake of the turbines. I've only seen photos of the phenomenon when the wind direction is exactly aligned with ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What new breakthrough energy technologies are close to being realized? [closed]

Energy production is one of the burning issues for humankind. There has been some talk about future energy technologies including Fusion, Anti-matter annihilation and Zero-point-energy (from most to ...
7
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3answers
2k views

How do you produce electricity from a wind mill?

How does a spinning windmill produce electricity?What is the principle behind the windmill?
7
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2answers
2k views

Does Tesla's photoelectric “solar cell” really work?

Tesla patented a device for gathering energy from light, using the photoelectric effect. (US 685,957 - Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy): Basically just a sheet of "highly polished ...
6
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5answers
1k views

Why do blades of windturbine propellers as comp. to propellers of ships cover very different areas?

This is a thought I asked myself often, but never did real efforts to get an answer. Barsmonsters question about number of fans of a wind turbine made me think of it again Why do blades of aircraft ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Would the ionic wind power fence actually work?

Described here and in the references (patent, patent), the idea is to use a large fence as a grid electrode. Spray water droplets near a high voltage to charge them, and then the wind blows them ...
6
votes
3answers
196 views

Optimal speed for the water wheel

The hydroelectricity plants extract the potential energy of highly deployed massive object (water) as it falls down. Without turbine, all that energy would be converted into speed (kinetic energy) at ...
5
votes
3answers
181 views

Wind's Sources and Drains (see live map!!)

I was pointed out by a friend to this website that shows live map of wind in US. It sometimes show interesting places where all the wind seems to converge and vanish. What's the origin of such "wind ...
5
votes
1answer
675 views

What is the most efficient Organic Photovoltaic solar cell?

Preferably one that is researched in a paper, not necessarily in production. I have found various claims of OPVs with an efficiency of 10%, 8% and 7.3%, the only one I can substantiate is referenced ...
5
votes
1answer
368 views

What type of solar energy technology has the most future potential?

In terms of dollars per watt, using theoretical efficiency limits, what technology holds the most promise to become the primary solar energy capture technology? My hunch is carbon-based modules, ...
5
votes
4answers
774 views

Why does a window layer is on top of the absorber layer in solar cells and not below it?

In solar cells there is a p-n junction. P-type semiconductor (for example CdTe) is often absorber layer because of its carrier lifetime and mobilities. In case of CdS/CdTe, CdS is n-type window layer ...
4
votes
2answers
245 views

Is it possible that windmills can consume the wind?

Can windmills allow us to consume (and, eventually, over-consume) the wind as a natural resource somewhat in the same manner that we are over-consuming many other natural resources?
4
votes
2answers
207 views

How much solar energy hits a rooftop in Israel?

I was asked to today about the available plans (in Israel) to install photo-voltaic receptors on the roof and sell the energy. This is a legitimate plan and there are several companies that do this. ...
4
votes
3answers
255 views

How far from the Sun is a photovoltaic effective?

Just what the title states. Photovoltaic cells convert incident light to electricity; this probably means they create less electricity when it is dark - as in deep space. How far can a solar cell ...
4
votes
2answers
158 views

Solar chamber trapped light

Was wondering if trapping light in a reflective chamber could heat rods sufficiently enough to heat water? Trying to think of new ways in which we can utilise solar energy.
4
votes
2answers
702 views

Is plant photosynthesis more efficient than solar panels?

Is photosynthesis more efficient than solar panels? If so, by how much?
4
votes
1answer
297 views

Does water need to pumped up from deep ocean?

OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) utilizes the temperature gradient between cold deep ocean water, and warmer water to do work. I understand the pressure in the depths may be as high as a couple ...
4
votes
1answer
572 views

Wind Turbine Impact

OK, I'm not sure this is not a silly question, but here goes. I've often wondered what the impact is of wind turbines on the weather. My question is, since wind turbines transform wind energy into ...
4
votes
3answers
98 views

How does temperature affect photovoltaics (PV) efficiency?

I know that photovoltaic panels are more efficient at lower temperatures: As the temperature increases, the output voltage decreases. I am looking for an explanation of the mechanism behind this ...
3
votes
2answers
513 views

Russian Doll Teller Ulam?

Can you trigger a thermonuclear explosion from a smaller thermonuclear explosion in a scaling way, so that starting from a small laser ignited fusion within a small fissile container, using the X-rays ...
3
votes
4answers
990 views

Angular momentum power plant on Earth

If tidal power plants are slowing down Earth's rotation then is it theoretically possible to build a power plant that would drain energy from Earth's angular momentum (thus slowing down it's ...
3
votes
5answers
141 views

Is there any possibility in the future that domestic power consumption could be wholly solar powered?

Assuming a standard sized, mid terrace house with four bedrooms, a kitchen with fridge, electrical cooker and washing machine, a bathroom with shower. What would be normal daily energy consumption ...
3
votes
1answer
424 views

Where does energy for high and low tides come from?

High and low tides are caused by Moon gravity attracting water. Now there's friction, waves cause erosion, their energy is used in power plants yet the tides work for millions of years and are ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Why is there no upper-bound on power-efficiency of Hydro-turbines?

We have Betz's law, an upper bound on power efficiency, for wind-turbines. But there is no theoretical upper limit on hydro-turbines, Why this is so? Is it mainly due to the incompressibility of ...
3
votes
2answers
106 views

Would it be possible to build a Solar Panel Etalon?

Since, on average, 1/3 of all sunlight that hits a solar panel is reflected, wouldn't it be possible to set up some kind of etalon system where the reflected light is then absorbed by another solar ...
3
votes
3answers
982 views

Would a thinner atmosphere (such as high altitude) yield better solar panel energy generation?

I am curious. If you were to put a solar panel up in high altitude or on the surface of the moon, both of which have much less atmosphere to reflect/refract light, would that solar panel produce more ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

Can a solar thermal collector designed for use in homes ever power a stirling engine designed for use in homes?

Can a solar thermal collector common on private roofs today designed for collecting heat for the household ever collect enough heat to power a stirling engine of say this model: ...
3
votes
2answers
395 views

Comparing Energy Technologies in terms of: Cost per Power Capacity and Research Spendings

Cost per Power Capacity For a number of energy technologies I'd like to know what the minimum costs are to install a given power capacity. Are there any such comparisons available? Research ...
3
votes
1answer
35 views

Potential energy of Hydroelectric plant before the dam was built

So the energy potential of a Hydroelectric dam is the difference between the head and base. Before the dam was built where does all that energy go? I can understand that for a long valley that is ...
3
votes
2answers
848 views

In solar cells, do photons break apart electron-hole pairs, or create them?

Some sources say that when a photon hits the PV cell, it breaks apart electron-hole pairs. Other sources say that photons create electron-hole pairs. Can anyone explain which one is right? I've read ...
3
votes
1answer
546 views

Why is E85 less efficient than straight gasoline?

Why is straight gasoline (or whetever the mixture was before the introduction of ethanol) more efficient (ie, more miles/gallon) than E85? I've known since it's introduction that E85 was less ...
3
votes
3answers
480 views

How bright can we make a sun jar?

A sun jar is an object that stores solar energy in a battery and then releases it during dark hours through a led. Assume: a $65cm^2$ solar panel a 12h/12h light/dark cycle insolation of ...
3
votes
1answer
172 views

What is the largest diameter an optical fiber can have? - for nonimaging visible light transmission

Is there any theoretical limitation on the size of the diameter of an Plastic optical fiber? I would like to transmit visible sunlight through it. I see bundles of small cores available but wouldn't ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Given mean insolation, can one place an upper bound on the daily peak insolation?

Photovoltaic panels are rated under standard conditions: eg a $100\mathrm{W}$ panel if irradiated with $1000\mathrm{W}/\mathrm{m}^2$ at $25^\circ\mathrm{C}$. When the cost effectiveness of ...
3
votes
0answers
87 views

“Single-shot” Heat engine efficiency limits

The sun is 5778K and Earth is ~290K. Using the sun as the hot reservoir and earth as a cold reservoir we get 95% Carnot efficiency. However, the solar power efficiency limit is only 86%, see: ...
3
votes
0answers
192 views

Theoretically speaking what are the limits for super-capacitors in terms of their storage capability?

According to wikipedia, commercially available super-capacitors in 2010 can store 30Wh/kg, with 85Wh/kg achieved in a lab in 2011. Have any theoretical calculations been done to show what can be ...
2
votes
6answers
1k views

What's the problem with solar energy?

What "breakthrough" from a theoretical point of view is needed for solar energy to become feasible energy alternative?
2
votes
2answers
17k views

Is Keshe's technology for real?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UrN99RELqwo They clain they can create free energy using plasma reactors. Is this fake? M.T. Keshe said that several entities, ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

why ammonia is not a competitive energy carrier?

reading this article about Germany planning to store renewable energy as hydrogen gas, i'm left wondering why they deem so great this plan, compared with other alternatives like ammonia as a energy ...
2
votes
2answers
312 views

What are the current possibilities for large-scale storage of electrical energy?

I'm curious as to how large-scale electrical storage is managed now, how much they can store, how well they scale and for how long (and what is their loss rate). (I'm not asking about technological ...
2
votes
2answers
645 views

Limit on geothermal energy that could be extracted before the earth's magnetic field collapsed?

This is more of a theoretical thought-experiment question. Basically, how much geothermal energy can we extract before the loss of the magnetic field makes it a terribly bad idea? Will the ...
2
votes
4answers
92 views

Coherence effect on collecting sun light by mirrors

There are systems that collect sun light in one spot. I wonder, why does it accumulate additively, without destructive interference?
2
votes
1answer
265 views

Solar energy and optical fiber

I'm not really good at science or physics, just wanted to ask about the idea (doesn't have an opportunity to test this). Will this scheme work and what can be its efficiency?(The goal is to make ...
2
votes
4answers
673 views

Easy to understand equivalents for energy (kilowatt-hour)

Is there a database/webpage/other source for obtaining simple, easy to understand and meaningful equivalents for converted energy by a photovoltaic-site (Wh/kWh/MWh/GWh)? Something like "xxxkWh equals ...