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Alternative Energy

 

 Renewable Energy Systems

This is the self-proclaimed future of energy production.  For industry to remain sustainable in the future, the need to switch to a renewable source of energy is inevitable. 

  ( Solar Resource Map:  The darkest areas are the most effective areas for solar power )

 Smaller operating renewable energy systems offer power in remote locations where grid energy is expensive or unable to be connected.  Portal solar cells can be used to power laptops in the field.  Small wind turbines are of sufficient power for sailboat navigational systems.  The use of these systems is limited to the ingenuity of the installer. Renewable  systems can also be used to supplement grid power for added savings.  Many states are now passing net metering laws to encourage and fund such installations for distributed generation of energy.

Tech Power Systems is staying at the front of this and other emerging technologies.  Consult with our knowledgeable staff too see if a Renewable Energy System is right for you.

 All systems are custom fitted to your facility's power and system requirements. 


Solar Panels

Sunwize Solar Panel SM Series  - 50 to 110 Watts, provide the highest power density and have the longest service record.

Intelligent module deliver optimum power under reduced light conditions.
PowerMax® solar cells form the heart of these modules. These cells make optimum use of the module surface area. Thanks to their square shape, they are highly efficient and still provide the maximum power possible even under low light levels or poor weather conditions.


The specially hardened front glass has excellent light transmitting properties and protects the module against most adverse environmental conditions such as hail or ice. The solar cells are laminated in EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) between a multi layer rear film and the front glass. This permanently laminated assembly protects the cells against moisture and ensures electrical insulation. A torsion-resistant module frame made of anodized aluminum guarantees particularly high mechanical strength.

 

SM 50 SM 50H SM 55 SM110

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  SP Series  - 75 to 150 Watts, Shell's most popular modules, provide a medium range power density.

  ST Series  - 5 to 38 Watts, use PowerMax® thin film technology to deliver battery charge power levels in low light situations and are ideal for specialized telemetry applications.

 


Solar Cell Technology

 How a Photovoltaic Cell works

A solar cell is made up of a number of layers. The critical two layers of the cell are the middle two, one of which is known as n-type semi-conductor and the other as p-type semiconductor. It is at the junction of these two layers that the cell generates electricity.

Semi-conductors are special electronic materials that are used in computers and other electronic devices. They are called semi-conductors because they conduct poorly when compared to metals, but they conduct very well when compared to insulators. They fall somewhere in the middle.

Semi-conductors have two special properties that are essential to the solar cell's ability to make electricity:

  1. When light is absorbed within a semi-conductor, electrons are freed by the semi-conductor.

  2. When dissimilar semi conductors are joined at a common boundary, a fixed electric field is usually induced across the boundary.

So how does the cell generate electricity? When light enters the solar cell and is absorbed in the semi-conductor sandwich an electron is freed. If this electron is close enough to the boundary of the two semi-conductors, it is swept across the boundary by the fixed electric field. The movement of the electron across the boundary causes a charge imbalance in the semi-conductors. The semi conductors naturally want to get rid of this charge imbalance. However, the electric field prevents the electron from recrossing the boundary, so if it is to return, it must travel via an external circuit - thus we have electricity! (because electric current is the flow of electrons through a wire)

The outermost layer of the cell is a cover glass. This is designed to protect the rest of the structure from the environment. It is attached to the rest of the cell with a transparent adhesive.

When sunlight passes through the glass and the adhesive, it encounters an anti-reflection (AR) coating. This coating is also transparent. It is designed to reduced the amount of sunlight reflected by the cell. Without the AR coating, the solar cell acts like a mirror, reflecting up to 30% of the light hitting the cell. The AR coating minimizes this reflection off the cell, reducing reflection losses to less that 5%, so that as much sunlight as possible is available for the cell to use to make electricity.

For the solar cell to be useful, there must be some way for the electricity it produces be passed to the outside world. This is the purpose of the front and back contacts. Their function is to carry the electrical current produced by the cell.

The current generated by the light hitting the solar cell flows from all parts of its surfaces, so it is important that the contacts reach everywhere on the cell. Ideally, to reduce losses caused by the current having to travel any distance across the surface of the cell, we would like to cover the whole of the top and bottom surfaces of the cell with the contacts. However, if we did this, the top contact would block the sunlight and the cell wouldn't work. As a compromise, the top contact is usually made of thin fingers of metal that reach most of the cell and only block a small portion of the light. The bottom contact is not in the way of the light, so it can be a sheet of metal.

As long as light shines on the cell, we get electricity. Light comes into the cell and gets absorbed. Electrons are freed and pushed across the boundary by the electric field. They pass through an external circuit and return to their starting point.

( Solar Panel and Wind Turbine combination equipment  )

This happens as long as light shines on the cell, so how come the cell never wears out? Because the sunlight provides the energy input. Just like sunlight provides the energy for plants to grow, it also provides the energy for solar cells to produce electricity.


Wind Turbines

 Find Out About How the Turbine Works

This aerial view of a wind power plant shows how a group of wind turbines can make electricity for the utility grid. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to homes, businesses, schools, and so on.

These three-bladed wind turbines are operated "upwind," with the blades facing into the wind. The other common wind turbine type is the two-bladed, downwind turbine.

So how do wind turbines make electricity? Simply stated, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. Utility-scale turbines range in size from 50 to 750 kilowatts. Single small turbines, below 50 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping.
 


 Look at the Wind Turbine Close Up


 

 Wind Turbine Glossary

Anemometer: Measures the wind speed and transmits wind speed data to the controller.

Blades: Most turbines have either two or three blades. Wind blowing over the blades causes the blades to "lift" and rotate.

Brakes: A disc brake which can be applied mechanically, electrically, or hydraulically to stop the rotor in emergencies.

Controller: The controller starts up the machine at wind speeds of about 8 to 16 miles per hour (mph) and shuts off the machine at about 65 mph. Turbines cannot operate at wind speeds above about 65 mph because their generators could overheat.

Gear Box: Gears connect the low-speed shaft to the high-speed shaft and increase the rotational speeds from about 30 to 60 rotations per minute (rpm) to about 1200 to 1500 rpm, the rotational speed required by most generators to produce electricity. The gear box is a costly (and heavy) part of the wind turbine and engineers are exploring "direct-drive" generators that operate at lower rotational speeds and don't need gear boxes.

Generator: Usually an off-the-shelf induction generator that produces 60-cycle AC electricity.

High Speed Shaft: Drives the generator.

Low Speed Shaft: The rotor turns the low-speed shaft at about 30 to 60 rotations per minute.

Nacelle: The rotor attaches to the nacelle, which sits atop the tower and includes the gear box, low- and high-speed shafts, generator, controller, and brake. A cover protects the components inside the nacelle. Some nacelles are large enough for a technician to stand inside while working.

Pitch: Blades are turned, or pitched, out of the wind to keep the rotor from turning in winds that are too high or too low to produce electricity.

Rotor: The blades and the hub together are called the rotor.

Tower: Towers are made from tubular steel (shown here) or steel lattice. Because wind speed increases with height, taller towers enable turbines to capture more energy and generate more electricity.

Wind Direction: This is an "upwind" turbine, so-called because it operates facing into the wind. Other turbines are designed to run "downwind", facing away from the wind.

Wind Vane: Measures wind direction and communicates with the yaw drive to orient the turbine properly with respect to the wind.

Yaw Drive: Upwind turbines face into the wind; the yaw drive is used to keep the rotor facing into the wind as the wind direction changes. Downwind turbines don't require a yaw drive, the wind blows the rotor downwind.

Yaw Motor: Powers the yaw drive.

Tech Power Systems is staying at the front of this and other emerging technologies.  Consult with our knowledgeable staff too see if a Renewable Energy System is right for you.

 

 

We carry a wide variety of renewable energy equipment in addition to our website inventory.  Please contact us if you don't see the product you are searching for.  We can help you properly size your purchase for any commercial or residential projects.

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