On the physics of power, energy and economics of renewable electric energy sources – Part I
Environmental concerns have increasingly led to the installation of Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) despite the fact that they are recognized as expensive. Innovative efforts within the area are beset with difficulties , and they are at risk of producing misdirected or insignificant improvements in terms of the cost effectiveness of total energy conversion systems. This paper investigates how RETs can be evaluated, in terms of economy and engineering solutions, by studying the fundamental physics of renewable energy sources and how it matches with the RETs. This match is described by the “Degree of Utilization”. The findings indicate that new innovations should focus on the possible number of full loading hours. RETs that are correctly matched to their energy source generate a higher amount of electric energy and have a higher potential of becoming more competitive. In cases where this aspect has been ignored, leading to relatively small degrees of utilization, it can be understood as an engineering mismatch between installed power, converted energy, and the fundamental physics of the renewable energy sources. Since there is a strong and possibly biased support for so-called mature RETs and already existing solutions, a clarification of how fundamental physical laws affect the cost of investments and payback of investments is needed. The present paper is part I out of II and it focuses on the difference between power and energy and the physics of different energy sources and their utilization.
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