Renewable Energy
All things energy, from solar and wind power to efficiency and off-grid living.

Should You Purchase a Solar-Ready Battery for Your Home? 5 Energy Storage Considerations for Homeowners


Energy storage technology has existed for quite some time, but the use of solar batteries in residential energy systems is a relatively new development. Although home energy storage prices have fallen significantly in recent years, solar batteries still have a decently hefty price tag and do not make economic sense for every homeowner. However, a solar-plus-storage system can be beneficial in some situations.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not solar battery storage is the right fit for you and your home.

Are you required to pay time-of-use electricity rates?

If your utility company charges time-of-use rates, this means that the amount you pay for electricity will vary depending on the time of day. During hours when electricity demand is high, typically in the evening and at night, you’ll pay more for power than you would when electricity demand is low, typically during the late morning and early afternoon.

If you are subject to time-of-use billing, a solar battery can be a beneficial investment for you because during the daytime, your solar system will be producing enough energy to both power your home and charge up your battery. Then at nighttime, you’ll be able to use the energy stored in the battery to power your home rather than having to pull from the grid at the higher time-of-use rate.

Does your utility require demand charges?

Some utilities charge customers an additional fee that’s dependent upon how much electricity they use. The fee could be determined by the amount of power used when total electricity demand is high, or it may encompass all electricity used during a month.

If you’re required to pay demand charges to your utility, installing home energy storage can be beneficial by helping you to avoid a high demand fee by pulling from the grid less often and utilizing energy stored in your solar battery instead.

Do you live in a state with net metering?

In states where true net metering exists, customers will receive a credit equal to the amount the utility charges for traditional electricity for each kilowatt-hour of energy their solar panels produce and send back to the grid.

If you have access to true net metering, a solar battery may not be worth it for you from a financial standpoint because you’ll be able to freely give and take energy from the grid at no additional cost.

Are you susceptible to frequent power outages?

For safety reasons, all standard grid-tied solar systems have an automatic shut-off switch that will turn off the system during a power outage. This means that those who have a standard solar energy system without battery backup will still lose power when the grid goes down. However, when a battery is added to the setup, the home can still run off of the energy stored up in the event of a blackout.

If you experience regular power outages and would like to continue to have power when the grid is down, or if you’re interested in the peace of mind that comes along with energy backup, a solar battery may be worth the cost.

Do you want solar storage to take you off the grid?

Many homeowners are interested in the idea of going completely off the grid and having the ability to operate totally independent of their electric utility, and some view solar batteries as the means to make it happen. However, on their own, most solar batteries on the market today do not have the capacity to store the energy necessary to keep a home running throughout the entire year.

If going 100 percent off the grid is your goal, solar batteries likely aren’t the best solution unless you have ample space available and are prepared to invest tens of thousands dollars in a large multi-battery storage setup.

Sarah Hancock educates consumers about the workings of the solar industry to help people make decisions that benefit both their own interests and the environment. Connect with her on the Best Company Solar Blog and on Twitter. Read all of Sarah’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Solar Panels are the New iPhone: Imagining a Distributed Energy Future

Graphic Hand Holding Cell Phone 

In 1994, only 10% of Americans had a cell phone. And yet, in 15 short years, more Americans had cell phones than landlines. While the rapid adoption of mobile phones can’t be attributed to a single factor, there is one major parallel between the transition from landlines to smart phones and what’s actively happening today in the electricity industry: the transition from a centralized system to a distributed (or decentralized) network.

Electricity and Telecommunications: Parallel Industries

The electricity industry operates in much the same way today that the telecommunications industry operated 30 years ago. In the 1990s, your telephone company likely charged you a fixed fee for monthly service plus a variable, per-minute rate for long-distance calls.

Today your electricity company bills you similarly, with a mix of fixed and variable charges based upon how much electricity you use per month and how much it costs to transmit that electricity to your house.

The parallels between the two industries don’t end there. With landlines, your phone service was physically hardwired to a centralized telecommunications system. Similarly, when you flip on a light switch or plug in your toaster oven, you are connecting directly into an electrical grid that is powered by large, centralized power plants that may be many hundreds of miles from where you live.

And just as the telecommunications industry of the 1990s experienced a major disruption from the decentralized technology of cell phones, so too is today’s electricity industry on the verge of a major disruption as the result of the distributed generation of electricity.

Transitioning to Distributed Networks

At present, the electric grid is very centralized: Large power plants are connected to electricity buyers through a web of transmission and distribution lines. These high-powered generation resources are designed to satisfy the electricity needs of hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of households and businesses in a given region. With the benefit of a connected grid of transmission and distribution lines, these large power plants do not need to be located close to customers, but rather can remain part of a centralized market.

At a high level, distributed generation (DG) — also referred to as a distributed energy resource (DER) — is any source of electricity that is on the decentralized distribution grid. Though this definition includes small-scale wind turbines, hydropower, and even fossil-fuel-powered backup generators, the most common form of distributed generation for residential applications is solar energy.

Distributed generation already plays an important role for the electricity grid. Rooftop solar panels can help defer or avoid large investments in infrastructure upgrades on the electrical system, helping all electricity customers save money. What’s more, solar panels provide a suite of environmental co-benefits beyond the monetary savings, including acting as a source of emission-free, local generation that can contribute to improvements in air quality.

However, while the transition to a distributed telecommunications network is effectively complete, the transition to a distributed energy grid is only just beginning. Solar is the most widespread of distributed energy resources, but as of 2018, less than 4% of all residential, single-family stand-alone homes in the country had installed solar.

Hand Holding Smart Phone Outside

Imagining a Distributed Energy Future

In all likelihood, a distributed generation future will still rely upon the centralized power grid. Returning to the telecommunication industry as an example, even though nine out of ten Americans own a cell phone, two-thirds of Americans have still maintained their existing landline connection.

However, the shift from solar on 4% of American rooftops to 20%, and especially up to 80% of rooftops, would require substantial changes to the way that power companies do business today. Here, too, the electricity industry can learn from the experiences of the telecommunications industry.

For instance, in the past, if you wanted to make a long-distance phone call from a friend’s house — say, to tell your family that you had arrived safely — you might have offered to pay for making a long-distance phone call on somebody else’s phone bill.

These days, there’s no need to offer to cover the cost of your long-distance phone call, let alone to even ask to use a landline. It’s easy enough to text or call from the cell phone in your pocket to provide updates at every step along your journey.

Again, the story for electricity is similar, and envisioning how this may change in the future is full of possibilities. At the moment, if you charge your cell phone at a friend’s house, you probably don’t need to ask to use an outlet or offer to pay for the electricity you’ve consumed. But say that you have an electric vehicle that you wanted to charge at your friend’s house. Would you offer to cover the incremental charge of charging your car on their next utility bill?

Community Microgrids

Forecasting what a distributed energy future could look like expands beyond the similarities with a distributed telecommunications network. For instance, as more homes and businesses invest in distributed generation, it will become possible for individual streets, neighborhoods or entire cities and towns to connect all of their resources into their own, sustainable and reliable microgrid.

While these microgrids will continue to need access to the existing electrical grid, they will also be able to place energy back onto the grid to help provide power for other communities running their own microgrids, thus creating a “virtual” power plant out of aggregated distributed resources. Instead of relying exclusively upon centralized, large power plants, the electrical grid could become much more flexible as we begin to install more distributed energy resources.

The possibilities for how distributed generation may disrupt the electricity industry are endless. Thankfully, utilities need look no farther than their telecommunication counterparts for insight into how best to transition from a centralized grid to a distributed network of resources.

Spencer Fields is Content and Research Manager at EnergySage, the online solar marketplace. EnergySage simplifies the process of researching and shopping for solar. By offering shoppers more choices and unprecedented levels of transparency, EnergySage allows consumers to select the solar installation quote that provides the best value for them, quickly and easily.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

What's New in Residential Solar Energy?

residential solar installer 

Solar energy is a vast energy resource that can be used for a variety of purposes, including electrical power, heating and cooling, fuel production, water heating, industrial process heat, transportation, and cooking. The cost of having a solar power system installed on your home has dropped dramatically over the last several years. As a result, more than 1 million homes are currently being powered energy from the sun.

In today’s rapidly growing solar industry, there are thousands of residential solar energy companies (some of the largest and most well-known being Sungevity, Sunrun, SolarCity, and Vivint Solar) that provide hundreds of different panel models and designs to homeowners. An increasing number of premium technology brands, such as LG and Panasonic, have entered the residential solar market, resulting in the development of a variety of new and improved solar technologies.

solar energy system on roof

Here's what you can expect to see in the near future:

Double-Sided Solar Panels

Formally known as bi-facial solar panels, double-sided solar panels will become an attractive product option in residential solar. Double-sided panels are impressive because they can harness sunlight through both surfaces of the panel. Essentially, these panels can capture light as it reflects off of the roof or ground surface below the panel.

Because the majority of roofs in the residential market are black, solar installers will typically paint a white border around the solar panel system before installation to maximize light reflection. In the case of a ground mount solar system, the light will naturally reflect off the ground, especially in snowy areas during the winter.

Frameless Solar Panels

A major factor in the critique of the look of a solar energy system on a home is the solar panel frame, which many homeowners find to be the least attractive part of a PV panel. To solve that problem, major panel manufacturers such as SolarWorld, Canadian Solar, and Trina are beginning to produce more aesthetically-pleasing frameless solar modules.

The main roadblock for frameless solar panels is the lack of suitable mounting equipment that can work without a frame. As a result, solar manufacturers are producing specialized mountings to work with the frameless panels.

blue solar panels

Clear Solar Panels

Many frameless solar panel designs are entirely enclosed in one material, typically glass. Glass solar panels use the same silicon cell technology and materials of a standard panel, but rather than being mounted on an opaque backing material, the cells are sandwiched between two glass casings.

Glass solar panels are an innovation in multiple ways because, in addition to being more visually attractive, glass panels are more durable than typical silicon cell panels, and are known to be significantly more resistant to fire hazard and less prone to erosion.

Solar Panels with Inverters

One of the biggest new innovations in the solar industry is the concept of solar panels with small inverters already in place on the back of the panels.

For solar installers, inverter installation and connection can add significant time to a typical rooftop installation. To address this issue and increase installation efficiency, inverter manufacturers are making inverters easily attachable to the back of the panels. This innovation will also reduce installation costs.

A proponent of renewable energy and green living, Sarah Hancock enjoys writing about sustainability and manages the solar blog on BestCompany.comYou can also find her work on Twitter.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Solar Energy System

blue solar panels 

Having a solar energy system can help you to reduce your carbon footprint and cut down your electricity bill. However, you may not be getting the most optimal results by having a solar system on its own.

Whether you’ve installed solar panels for financial or environmental reasons, the following recommendations can help you use your solar energy system more effectively and get the most out of the power it produces, which will allow you to pay off your system faster, pull less power from the grid, and potentially even create a surplus of energy to sell back to your utility.

1. Install LED lights

Older light bulbs use only a small percentage of the electricity they take in to make light while the rest of the energy is lost as heat. Modern LED bulbs, on the other hand, use almost all of the electricity they take in to make light. In fact, a good LED light bulb only needs about a tenth of the electricity as a traditional light bulb to produce the same amount of light, so they aren’t pulling as much energy from your solar system to light your home.

Additionally, because LEDs are so much more efficient, they last much longer than incandescent bulbs. This means that replacing the lights in your home with LEDs will pay off quickly.

smart thermostat

2. Purchase smart thermostats

Smart thermostats, like other smart devices, allow you to remotely control your home’s temperature via mobile or internet-connected devices. Many smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature to change based on the time of day, and some can even learn your habits and automatically create energy-efficient heating and cooling schedules based on how you typically adjust your thermostat.

Installing smart thermostats in your home will allow you to keep a close eye on how much energy from your solar power system you’re using to heat and cool your house, as well as when you’re using it, so that you can easily make adjustments to conserve energy.

3. Check windows and doors

In many homes, a significant amount of heat and air conditioning is lost through windows, doors, and roofs because these are the areas that typically have small gaps where air can escape, as well as enter from the outside. You can combat this and reduce the strain on your solar energy system by installing double- or triple-paned windows, replacing old weather stripping, and/or applying caulk. You can also insulate and save energy by adding thick drapery to windows.

4. Invest in smart plugs

Even when appliances and electronics are turned off, they can still suck quite a bit energy from your solar power system if they are plugged in. According to The New York Times, a washing machine can use 4 watts per hour when plugged in and turned off, a cable box can use 26 watts per hour when turned off and not recording, and a laptop can use 48 watts per hour when closed and charging. If you do the math, those three devices alone can drain 1,848 watts per day, more than 55,000 watts per month, and over 674,000 watts per year just by being plugged in.

If you don’t want to worry about constantly plugging and unplugging electronics and appliances, you can purchase smart power strips or smart plugs, which allow you to control and cut power to devices remotely through a mobile app.

ceiling fan

5. Use ceiling fans

According to the Department of Energy, heating and air conditioning takes up about 48 percent of a home’s energy budget on average. This means that your HVAC system can easily use up most, if not all, of the energy produced by your solar panels. While ceiling fans won’t heat or cool the air in your home, they can circulate the air and make rooms more comfortable while using significantly less solar energy.

For the most noticeable results, set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise in summer, which will distribute cool air around the room, and switch the fans to rotate clockwise in winter, which will help push warm air down from the ceiling into the room.

6. Consider battery storage

The price of solar batteries has dropped significantly in recent years and is expected to continue to fall, making them increasingly attractive to homeowners. While solar battery storage is still a developing technology and may not be the best option for every solar system owner at this point in time, it can be a very beneficial option for those who frequently experience grid blackouts or are subject to time-of-use electricity rates from their utility company.

With a solar battery, your home will be able to run off of the clean solar energy stored up in the battery at night or during power outages.

7. Be conscious of energy use

When you leave a room, take care to turn out the lights. When you’re finished using an appliance or electronic, turn it off and unplug it. Simply being aware of the ways you consume electricity and making minor adjustments when you notice you’re using more than you need to is one of the best ways to make sure that the energy produced by your solar power system is being used as effectively as possible.

A proponent of renewable energy and green living, Sarah Hancock enjoys writing about sustainability and manages the solar blog on You can also find her work on Twitter.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Benefits of Personal Energy Independence

ground array 

The concept of energy independence first entered the national consciousness in the early 1970’s, when the unstable nature of reliance on foreign oil was made all too obvious by a series of embargoes and price hikes at the hands of politically opposed Arab nations. President Nixon promised that the United States would be independent of foreign energy sources within 10 years, and while that benchmark came and went, the idea has remained a political talking point ever since. It has been used as justification for environmentally disastrous practices like fracking and offshore drilling, and as a scare tactic to promote hawkish foreign policy agendas.

But it hasn’t been all bad! Just as the goal of self-reliance in our energy sector has been used to give grounds for destructive solutions, it has also been used to justify investments in more renewable, homegrown energy sources that not only wean us off of foreign power, but do so in an environmentally sustainable way. And unlike oil and natural gas, which are only feasible on a large scale, solar power can bring energy independence directly to the consumer in a more practical and immediate way. This “personal energy independence” addresses the same concerns about relying on foreign nations for our power, but on a personal scale.

The most obvious concern when relying on an outside source for power is security, and the extreme weather that much of the US faces keeps this concern front-of-mind. We are made aware of the fragility of our energy every time a strong storm knocks the power out, which can be quite often depending on your location and the age of your power grid. Power outages can quickly go from irritating to lethal, with sub-zero winters, and summers where the heat index regularly tops 100 degrees. Whether your system is tied in to the grid, or completely off-grid, your power can stay on no matter how many power lines are downed.

Energy independence also brings some stability to your budget. With regular variations in energy prices and usage, it can be difficult to predict your energy costs year-to-year, or even month-to-month. If you are running a completely off-grid system, it becomes incredibly easy to predict your power bill: It’s nothing! Aside from any outstanding costs from the purchase or installation of your system, which is just a regular monthly bill, there is no need to worry about fluctuating energy costs because you have none. Even with a grid tie-in system, you can rest assured that by producing most of your own energy, your power bill will stay below a predictable level that makes any fluctuations negligible. These fluctuations will typically be in your favor anyway. Depending on size and sunlight, grid tie-in systems often wind up producing more energy than they can use or store, meaning the power winds up getting sold to the power company.

One benefit of energy independence that can’t be so easily measured is the peace of mind it brings. Energy security and stability are not only beneficial for their own sake. Having fewer things to worry about, and thus less stress, improves mental and physical health in a myriad of ways. Not to mention the joy that comes from knowing that you are doing something every day to lessen your carbon footprint and make the world a better place!

Like any bold step towards more personal freedom, taking the plunge into energy independence can seem intimidating. You probably have a lot of questions, and may not even know where to start.

I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on my Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there.

Stay energized,


Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

10 Off-Grid Myths


I’ve been living without any connection to grid power since 1991. The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook can teach you the basics. In all these years I can say that there have only been a few power failures at my home that weren’t my fault. Well, not directly anyway.

After living with a trusty Trace inverter since day one, I decided to upgrade shortly after the turn of the century (I like saying that, it makes me feel “experienced”) from 24 to 48 volts and to a pure sine wave inverter. Three new inverters failed within a year and tech support was as helpful as they could be, but there were no answers. Ultimately, it became clear that modern inverters are far more sensitive than those robust tanks of yesteryear. Nothing like lots of old-school copper and iron to buffer you from distant lightning strikes. I now have no less than 6 ground rods (all tied together), and three surge protectors defending two PV arrays, a wind tower, and a diesel generator against errant electric fields.

When a customer tells me they want to go off-grid, the first thing I try to do is talk them out of it. You can enjoy the benefits of renewable energy with the convenience of grid power. There are many stories about people either wanting to go off-grid, or actually doing it and feeling pretty good about it. Everyone has their reasons and motivations, and there are many rewards, but if you’re looking for a realistic (though perhaps slightly curmudgeonly) perspective from a long time off-gridder, read on. I’ve attempted to support or debunk some of the mythology I’ve heard over the years. Despite advice to the contrary, I know there are some of you who can’t be stopped (insert applause here). Plan well!

Myth #1: No more electric bills! Wrong! You may not pay the local utility, but you will pay. You’ll pay for the cost of the system (PVs, mounting, grounding, metering, site resource assessment, backup generator, etc). Then you’ll pay for batteries, and then you’ll pay for them again, and again.


Myth #2: Solar costs less than grid power. See Myth #1. Add up those costs and add more to it. PV panels have indeed come way down in cost over time, but other system components have not. I bought my first PV panel in 1988 for $8/watt, and used it to charge a motorcycle battery that powered my off-grid room in an on-grid home. Last I looked, PVs were selling for around $.75/watt. Should I have waited? Absolutely not! The bane of an off-grid system is batteries. Despite the antiquated nature of lead acid batteries, they are still the go-to technology for large quantities of energy storage due to their low up-front cost. In my experience, lead acid batteries used in off-grid service will last seven years regardless of brand, type, or capacity. Treat them well and plan on replacement every seven years more or less. Purchase price of a battery bank depends on how much storage you need, and is currently around $125/kilowatt-hour for lead-acid. Utility power is actually pretty cheap for the amount of work it can do for you. You might also face costs related to permitting, insurance, and property tax. What PVs can buy you, on or off the grid, is a bit of buffer from volatile energy prices.

Myth #3: Off-grid means a simple life. Not so fast. Granted, off-grid living ties you more closely to reality in many ways, but managing a small electric utility requires time, skill, and savvy. All those systems will need maintenance. Failing to check for loose or corroded electrical connections can lead to minor bugs or catastrophic failure. The generator will need oil and fuel. If you have a wind tower, best to hire a pro for potentially dangerous maintenance duty! Batteries require periodic attention. You’ll need to check connections and water them every two months or so (assuming you choose lead-acid batteries). Battery maintenance also requires a bit of an intrepid spirit. You definitely don’t want to see sparks fly around loose battery connections! I’ve seen batteries explode and it is one of those experiences that keeps me careful in this work. Overall, off grid living will increase your workload.

Myth #4: Snow slides off the panels. Ummm – no, it doesn’t. I tilt my panels steeply to capture low-angle New England winter sunlight when I desperately need it to charge both my internal battery and the power storage batteries. Snow is sticky, heavy, sometimes icy, and it doesn’t slide off until I either sweep it off or the sun comes out and offers some warming.


Myth #5: Going off-grid will reduce carbon footprint. It very well might, but first look at your regional utility grid power mix. Many utilities have renewable energy portfolio standards that make them greener, and efficiency programs that make them cleaner. If you’re on-grid, get as efficient as you can to lower your carbon footprint and reduce energy costs. If you’re off-grid, you can’t take advantage of those programs (because you don’t pay into the system as ratepayers do). In addition, when your renewable resource is scarce, you’ll need to run your fossil fuel generator to keep the batteries charged.

Myth #6: Renewable energy is more efficient than grid power. Not so much. Efficiency is not really the point with renewables though; it’s about effectively capturing and utilizing an appropriate, local resource. Production grade PV panels are in the range of 15 to 20 percent efficient at converting photons into electrons. After sending those electrons through additional power components like controllers, inverters, and batteries, overall system efficiency drops to around ten percent. About 25 percent of the energy content of the resource being fed to the utility power plant lands at your meter. Best efficiency and cost-effectiveness scenario is to stay on grid and offset your use with renewables.


Myth #7: I can continue to do things the way I always have. Sorry. No electric heaters or other gluttonous habits that squander electrons allowed. You’ll start looking differently at the ways in which nature bestows its enormity upon you. It will become a challenge to see much can you capture and use with minimal effort and cost. When nature gives, you’ll want to be ready to take full advantage of the bounty. You won’t be able to help yourself! But when the resource is not available, you need to rely on energy storage or other generation systems. You won’t be able to do things the way you did before but more importantly, you won’t want to. Autonomy comes with both costs and benefits.

Myth #8: I can drive my EV on renewable energy. Trouble is that an EV battery holds as much (and probably much more) energy as your home’s battery bank. That means spreading your renewable resource pretty thin. Unless you have a very large PV array and live in a very sunny climate, off-grid PV charging will be inconsistent and sporadic at best. I’ve been thinking about how to modify an EV so that I can charge the batteries downtown, then drive home and plug it in to provide house power. This technology exists for some on-grid locations where the electric company supports it, but to my knowledge this is not an option for off-grid systems.

Myth #9: You don't need to go off the grid to get off the consumer treadmill. TRUE! Take off-grid as far as you can, any way you can. Grow your own food, pump your own water, build your own shelter, make your own renewable natural gas, manage your own woodlot, buy less stuff, manage your own health. Low-profile is a hugely beneficial lifestyle in so many ways, but you must enter into it with eyes wide open and plan well to clarify your goals, manage expectations, and control the outcomes.

Myth #10: Nikola Tesla knew something. True again! He was a genius. But anyone claiming to have figured it out and now wants to sell you a kit to make free energy at home is only trying to scam you! Don’t fall for it.

Paul Scheckel is an energy efficiency and renewable energy consultant, author, and hands-on/off-grid homesteader.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Canary Islands Move Towards Wave Power

wave powerIslands are one of the most expensive places in the world to produce electricity, due to their remoteness from mainland power sources. Many island nations rely on diesel fuels to power the islands, which is not only incredibly expensive, but also equally terrible for the environment. The Canary Islands off the coast of Northern Africa are no exception, but they have been looking for alternative ways to produce electricity.

Unlike other islands, the Canary Islands have not been looking towards typical renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, to build their electricity production. The Canary Islands have instead been looking at harnessing the energy from ocean waves to power newly built wave facilities and harness electricity for the island.

On the Canary Islands, most of the diesel fuel is used to run desalination plants for fresh drinking, cooking, and bathing water. Having fresh water is also vital to support the 15 million annual tourists that visit the Canary Islands. Without fresh water, tourism – one of the main sources of income on the islands – would drop off drastically and hurt the economy.

Seabased, a Swedish wave energy company, is working in the Canary Islands to produce their first wave-powered plant. This wave energy installation will be able to produce 5 megawatts of electricity, which would be enough to power all of the desalination plants on the islands. This would result in clean water at a much lower cost to the islands, and would also have enormous environmentally benefits, such as a huge cut back on the usage of diesel fuels.

Oscar Sanchez, one of the owners of the largest private companies on the island, trusts that this move toward wave-powered electricity will be good for his business and for the economy of the Canary Islands.

“We have slightly less than 3,000 square miles of land mass and it makes perfect sense to get our power from the waves. I see enormous potential of using wave energy not just for specific projects, like desalination, but ultimately to provide power for hotels and the grid itself, which should be less expensive than fossil fuels," says Sanchez.

The CEO of Seabased, Øivind Magnussen, believes that the success of this wave energy installation could be replicated and expanded for other islands and countries around the world.

Infocom Connect from the United Arab Emirates has already begun working with other island nations to discuss reproducing similar installations and make renewable energy sources widespread in the Caribbean. With more renewable energy projects spreading around the globe, there is hope that civilization can begin to depend on renewable energies more than fossil fuels for the first time in history.

This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.

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