KS4 Physics Renewable Energy 1 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Contents Renewable Energy Solar power Wind power Water power Thermal power Summary activities
2 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Solar cells Solar cells (or photocells) turn light energy from the Sun directly into direct current electricity. Manufacturing solar cells is very expensive and requires the use of highly toxic materials. However, once the solar cell is built it produces no pollution and requires little maintenance. This makes solar cells ideal for use in remote locations where maintenance is difficult and other sources of
electricity would be expensive. NASA/NREL 3 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 How do solar cells work? 4 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Efficiency of a solar cell
Solar cells suffer from a low efficiency. This is because only light with enough energy causes an electron to be released which is only about 25% of all sunlight. The amount of electricity a solar panel can produce depends on two factors: its surface area and the light intensity. Producing enough electricity to power a town would require a very large area of solar panels but covering the roof of a house can meet the annual electricity needs of the household. 5 of 44
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Problems with solar cells One obvious problem with solar cells is that they do not produce electricity at night. If more electricity is produced during the day than is used, the excess can be used to charge a battery which can then provide power during the night. Warren Gretz/NREL 6 of 44 Scientists are working
to develop improved solar cells which require less polluting chemicals in their manufacture, cost less to produce and are more efficient than the current technology. Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of solar cells Solar cells can be used very effectively in the right situation. The robust nature of solar panels can be exploited in remote areas
where maintenance is difficult. The Dangling Rope Marina on Lake Powell in Utah, USA, is only accessible by water. It previously depended on more than 246,000 litres of diesel to fuel its generators. A photovoltaic energy system has now been installed. It will reduce the cost of providing electricity and is clean, quiet and dependable. 7 of 44 Sandia National Laboratory/NREL Warren Gretz/NREL
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of solar cells Solar cells are very useful for remote locations where supplying mains electricity would be expensive. This solar-powered street light is in a remote part of mid-Wales with no mains electricity supply close by. The use of solar power in this way removes the need to lay electricity cables to the
light, which is another benefit to the environment. 8 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of solar cells Solar cells are very useful where the light intensity is highest. These solar panels are in a remote part of Morocco where they are used by a local utility company.
Courtesy of BP Solarex/NREL Solar cells are also useful where low amounts of power are needed. Calculators only require a small amount of electricity, so most calculators now use solar cells in place of batteries . 9 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Pros and cons of solar cells
10 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Solar power stations Solar power stations use the energy from the sun to heat water to make steam, which is then used to drive a turbine. Some solar power stations use a series of mirrors called heliostats to reflect light onto a boiler. Sandia National Laboratory/NREL
11 of 44 This solar power station in California consists of about 1800 heliostats, with an electrical output of 10 megawatts. Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of solar power stations Solar power stations are most effectively located in areas with high light intensity.
This test design is located in Arizona where the sunlight is intense and the air temperature is high. The mirrors must track the Sun as it moves across the sky to be efficient as possible, Would this sort of power station be effective in the UK? 12 of 44 Bill Timmerman/NREL Boardworks Ltd 2005
More solar power stations Some solar power stations use curved mirrors which focus the Suns energy onto pipes containing water. This heats the water forming steam. Warren Gretz/NREL 13 of 44 Warren Gretz/NREL Boardworks Ltd 2005
Contents Renewable energy Solar power Wind power Water power Thermal power Summary activities 14 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Wind power Wind is the result of the Sun
heating the Earth and creating convection currents in the Earths atmosphere. Using the wind as a source of energy is not a new idea. Sailing ships, powered by the wind, have been around for thousands of years. Windmills which used the winds power to grind corn were once a common landmark across Britain. 15 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005
Wind turbines Wind turbines (or aerogenerators) use large blades to capture the kinetic energy of the wind. This kinetic energy is used to directly turn a turbine and produce electricity. Wind turbines do not produce any polluting waste, however, some people consider them to be an noisy and an eyesore. There is also concern that, if poorly located, they could kill migrating birds.
16 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Wind farms One problem with wind turbines is that individually they do not generate a lot of electricity. They are usually needed in large numbers to have an impact on electricity production. A group of wind turbines is called a wind farm. Wind farms require large amounts of space in open areas, but the land can also be used for farming at the same time.
Robert Thresher/NREL 17 of 44 Offshore wind farms are located at sea. This wind farm is located 10 kilometres from the south-east coast of Ireland. Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of wind turbines The energy produced by a wind turbine depends on the wind speed. If it is not windy, electricity is not produced, so wind turbines are not a reliable source of electricity.
To be effective, wind turbines need to be located in windy areas. Unfortunately, these are usually upland areas of natural beauty and some people object to the building of wind farms in these areas. Wind power can be used effectively in remote locations to charge batteries which can then be used to provide a constant supply of electricity. 18 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 The then and now guide to wind power
How has the use of wind power changed over time? 19 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Wind power true or false? 20 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Contents Renewable energy
Solar power Wind power Water power Thermal power Summary activities 21 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Water power 1: hydroelectric power The power of flowing water has been used for hundreds of years to operate machinery. This power can also be used to generate electricity. 22 of 44
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Hydroelectric power Large scale hydroelectric schemes involve building a dam across the end of a river valley to create a reservoir. This is done high up in a mountainous area. Hydroelectric power stations are able to start up electricity production quickly.
Hydroelectric power is also very reliable. 23 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Hydroelectric power station 24 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of hydroelectric power Hydroelectric power stations need to be situated in high
mountainous areas such as North Wales or Scotland. Damming the river causes the river valley to flood which could mean that houses and villages are destroyed. Hydroelectric power schemes also cost a lot of money and take a long time to build. However, they do last a long time and they are able to produce large amounts of electricity. Once they are built, hydroelectric schemes provide a cheap and reliable source of electricity. 25 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005
The then and now guide to water power How has the use of water power changed over time? 26 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Pros and cons of hydroelectric power 27 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Water power 2: wave power The rise and fall of waves is a
renewable source of energy. Effective sites for harnessing wave energy need to have strong waves most of the time, to ensure that enough electricity will be produced. The Limpet (land-installed marine-powered energy transformer) on Islay, Scotland, is the worlds first commercial wave energy device. Its low profile is designed so that it does not effect coastal views. 28 of 44
Boardworks Ltd 2005 How does wave power work? 29 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Water power 3: tidal power Tidal power involves building a dam across a river estuary. Water can only flow in and out of the estuary through turbines in the dam, which
harness the tidal energy. Tidal power is able to provide a lot of electricity, however building a tidal barrage is very expensive. When a tidal barrage is built, it results in some of the estuary being flooded. This can mean the loss of important habits for wading birds. 30 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 How does tidal power work? 31 of 44
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Effective use of tidal power Tidal power provides a regular source of electricity. Exactly when this electricity will be produced is governed by the tides, which depend on the Moon. Monthly variations in the tidal range will also affect how much electricity can be produced. The passage of ships past the tidal barrier and the effect on wildlife also complicate the construction of tidal barrage schemes.
32 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Pros and cons of tidal power 33 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Contents Renewable energy Solar power
Wind power Water power Thermal power Summary activities 34 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Biomass Biomass is material from living sources. The simplest biomass energy sources are plants which can be burnt to produce steam to turn a turbine. Traditionally, wood is burnt to
give heat but trees grow slowly and require a lot of land. Other materials such as the waste from chicken farms can also be burnt. Biomass fuels are renewable as more plants can be grown, producing yet more biomass. 35 of 44 Biomass fuels do not contribute to global warming as the carbon dioxide released when they are burnt is
absorbed by the plants grown to replace them. Boardworks Ltd 2005 Biofuels Some sources of biomass energy are further processed to produce more valuable biofuels. Some plants can be fermented to give ethanol, a biofuel, which can be used instead of petrol or even aviation fuel, as in this plane! California Polytechnic State University/NREL
36 of 44 Laurent Simon - Aviation & Pilot/NREL Methane is biogas which can be used a replacement for natural gas. It is produced in anaerobic digesters by rotting animal waste and often found on remote farms, such as this digester on a pig farm. Boardworks Ltd 2005 The then and now guide to biomass How has the use of biomass changed over time?
37 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Geothermal energy In rocks under the ground, radioactive decay of elements, such as uranium, releases heat energy that warm the rocks. In some areas, hot water and steam rise to the surface. Joel Renner - DOE/NREL
The steam and hot water which rises naturally to the surface can be harnessed to generate electricity. The largest geothermal power plant is in California and has an output of 750 megawatts. David Parsons/NREL 38 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Geothermal energy In some areas, the warm rocks are very deep underground.
Where this occurs, wells are drilled down to the hot rocks and cold water is pumped down. The water is heated by the rocks and returns to the surface as steam. This geothermal power plant in California has 57 wells and produces 52 MW of electricity. 39 of 44 Warren Gretz/NREL
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Pros and cons of geothermal energy 40 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Contents Renewable energy Solar power Wind power Water power
Thermal power Summary activities 41 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Glossary biomass energy Energy from living matter, which can used as fuels. geothermal energy Heat from radioactive decay in rocks deep below the Earths surface. hydroelectric energy The gravitational potential
energy of falling water, which is used to generate electricity. solar energy Energy from the Sun, which is converted into thermal or electrical energy. tidal energy Energy from the rise and fall of the tides, which can be used to generate electricity. wave energy Energy from the up and down motion of waves, which can be used to generate electricity. wind energy Energy from the movement of air, which is transferred to wind turbine and used to generate electricity. 42 of 44
Boardworks Ltd 2005 Anagrams 43 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005 Multiple-choice quiz 44 of 44 Boardworks Ltd 2005
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