•Batteries and Energy Storage Batteries are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. There are many types of batteries available, representing a multi-billion dollar industry. Among the battery types of much interest are standard lead acid batteries, Li-ion batteries, supercapacitor, and redox flow battery. Materials improvements are critical in making these energy systems more effective in the future.
Biomass is energy derived from organic plant and animal matter including wood, crops, manure, and municipal solid wastes. When burned, the energy in biomass is released as heat but it can also be converted to other forms of energy like methane gas, ethanol and biodiesel.
The Electric Grid is an interconnected network designed to deliver electricity from various energy sources, and involves controlling the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. The grid cannot store significant amounts of power, so electricity must be generated as it is needed, by millions of consumers at any moment in time. Therefore, an efficient and effective control system is essential to match electric generation with use. It is critical to improve the reliability, efficiency and security of this system.
Geothermal electricity is electricity generated from geothermal energy. Technologies in use include dry steam power plants, flash steam power plants and binary cycle power plants. Geothermal electricity generation is currently used in 24 countries, while geothermal heating is in use in 70 countries. The U.S. produces more geothermal electricity that any other country, but this still amounts to less than 1/2 of one percent of all energy generated. Most geothermal reservoirs are deep underground but can find their way to the surface as volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. California has almost three dozen geothermal power plants that produce the largest fraction of U.S. energy from this source.
Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic sources, including fossil fuels as well as from renewable resources and can be stored in gas, liquid or solid forms. There is considerable work in progress on development of materials and systems for effective hydrogen storage. This alternative is considered a promising energy concept of the future, but like many alternatives, there currently is no infrastructure in place to produce, store, transport or distribute hydrogen effectively.
Hydropower, hydraulic power, hydrokinetic power or water power is power that is derived from the force or energy of falling water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. Since ancient times, hydropower has been used for irrigation and the operation of various mechanical devices, such as watermills, sawmills, textile mills, dock cranes, and domestic lifts. In China and the rest of the Far East, hydraulically operated "pot wheel" pumps raised water into irrigation canals. Since the early 20th century, it is used almost exclusively in conjunction with the modern development of hydro-electric power. Worldwide, an installed capacity of 1,010 GW supplied hydroelectricity in 2010. Approximately 16% of the world's electricity is renewable, with hydroelectricity account for 21% of renewable sources and 3.4% of total energy sources. The hydroelectricity shares more than 50% of all renewable energy sources. China has the largest annual energy production, 652.05TWH, and installed capacity 196.79GW in the world.
•Materials Availability for Alternative Energy
Tying all of the alternative energy technologies together is the availability of the materials needed to solve the issues for creating, storage and distribution of energy. The supply chain for the materials and parts that are necessary to create new alternative energy scenario is crucial. Whether we find that materials are less available, or we find new uses for less expensive materials and materials systems, we will have to develop this supply chain to move forward. The theme of materials availability is, and will be, a major challenge as we develop our new and sustainable energy infrastructure.
Nuclear power extracts usable energy from atomic nuclei by controlled nuclear reactions and most often, through nuclear fission. On a global scale, there are more than 400 operating nuclear power plants in more than 30 countries, which generate about 30% of the energy produced in the European Union and almost 20% of the energy produced in the U.S. Among the advantages of nuclear energy are no greenhouse emissions.
Solar power is energy derived from sunlight and can be converted into various forms of energy such as heat and electricity. The conversion to electricity can take place by photovoltaic (PV) or solar cells, as well as by use of solar power plants. The 354 MW SEGS CSP installation is the largest solar power plant in the world, located in the Mojave Desert of California. Other large CSP plants include the Solnova Solar Power Station (150 MW) and the Andasol solar power station (150 MW), both in Spain. The 200 MW Golmud Solar Park in China, is the world’s largest photovoltaic plant.
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships.
Worldwide there are now many thousands of wind turbines operating, with a total nameplate capacity of 194,400 MW. World wind generation capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006, doubling about every three years. China rapidly expanded its wind installations in the late 2000s and passed the U.S. in 2010 to become the world leader. Again in 2011, China continues to dominate the world wind market, adding 8 GW in only 6 months, the highest number ever within the first half year. Within those 6 months, China accounted for 43 % of the world market for new wind turbines, compared with 50 % in the full year of 2010. By June 2011, China had an overall installed capacity of around 52 GW.
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