BCB311

Monday, March 06, 2006

WHAT IS GREEN POWER AND IS IT VIABLE IN CAPE TOWN?

Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources like
solar energy, wind power, geothermal biomass and hydroelectricity. By
using green power we can shift away from our dependence on the burning
of fossil fuels to produce electricity. Wind power has created a lot of
interest in recent years and is one of the world's fastest growing
energy technologies. Cape Town would be ideal to harness this power as
in winter it gets very windy. The problem is that the turbines is
extensive in size and can be about 70 cm across. Wind farms are also
not very pleasing to the eye. A relatively low amount of power is
generated by the turbines. If by 2010 one thousand five hundred
turbines are built it would account for 25% of the energy generated
through wind. Tidal and wave energy- Wave energy can be used to turn a
generator or turbine and tides can be used to fill an electric dam. The
Western Cape has an extensive coast line which can be used for these
forms of power generation. Unfortunately there are very few sites with
great enough difference between low and high tides to make harnessing
tidal power possible Solar energy is the energy from the sun that is
harnessed in solar cells which are also called photo-voltaic cells.
This can be used to meet specific energy needs such as heating a
house's water or grouped together in large banks. Cape Town
receives a generous amount of sunshine right throughout the year so it
can be implemented. Although as with wind, it depends on the weather
conditions battery technology may need to be used to make it reliable.
This makes it expensive and it will need a high level of subsidy to make
it viable. Bio-mass/crop fuel- This is fast growing plants like willow
or elephant grass that is harvested and turned into wood chips which is
then burnt in power stations. It is a smart source of energy which is
easy, quick and cheap to develop. The increased biomass can also rescue
the rural community. In a combined heat and power plant as well as
turning a turbine in the same way as fossil fuels, the heat created,
which is normally discarded as a worthless by product, could be used to
provide steam for industrial processes or hot water which can greatly
increase energy efficiency. Huge amounts of crops would however need to
be grown in order to make use of biomass worth while.
Green fuel is still a growing concept and only time will tell whether
it can replace the use of fossil fuels.

Ilse Kotzee
Student # 2456349
2456349@uwc.ac.za

1 Comments:

  • Summer is actually a better time to generate wind-sourced energy since the SE trade wind blows more continously and for longer periods. Cape Town has Wind Turbines at Klipheuwel - they are not that ugly - beat a coal-based power station any day - see http://www.earthlife-ct.org.za/ct/article.php?story=20030601192438464

    By Anonymous Rich, at Saturday, March 18, 2006 12:29:00 am  

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