Feasibility of solar energy supplying the electrical energy needs of Sydney
Ideally, electrical energy has been on demand in most parts of the world, and the people of New South Wales in Australia are fortunate to implement the supply of power through the solar panels. The use of solar is very economical as compared to other forms of energy generation. Besides, the state capital need of Sydney finds it feasible to come up with this strategy of power generation and supply as renewable and most affordable by the residents. The adoption of this energy supply reduces and leads to an ultimate elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. South Australia and Denmark are lucky to have already installed and now operate on renewable electricity for a short period. Therefore, the feasibility of solar energy is vastly seen in many regions of Australia.
Explain the technical aspects of large-scale solar farms
The large-scale solar farms have thousands or even millions of solar panels working under one area. The cost of installing the large-scale solar farms has reduced especially the rooftop solar panels. The reduction has enabled economies of scale and technological advancement in most countries, thus, resulting in lower prices for the panels manufactured in China (Winter et al. 2012:78). The solar projects on large-scale accrue imminently leading to fewer soft costs when it comes to installing units as compared to the rooftop systems. Therefore, the cost of certain solar in large projects is half that of residential solar even when the cost of engineering and mounting structures is added. Large-scale solar farms lead to job growth in most of the area including but not limited to; manufacturing, operations, siting, maintenance, and construction. The solar projects are giving out more job opportunities as compared to fossil fuel plant since a more significant portion of the project or farms expenditure is used in labour-intensive activities like installation, manufacturing equipment, and maintenance rather than being wasted in extraction and transportation. Countries like the United States for instance employed over 160,000 workers in 2014, leading to the addition of workers in the plant at a rate of the overall economy and seemingly invested more than $15 billion in the economy of the United States annually (Elliston, Macgill, and Diesendorf 2013: 270). The technical aspect of the farms comes in the case of supply of enough energy to the population even when some panel are non-functioning. When powering like 20 homes with the solar panels, the highest recorded peak power capacity is 20 megawatts.
Modelling of the solar cells is helpful in identification of the features of the configuration under the uniform and non-uniform solar isolation. The circuit model of the PV voltage and the current equation are derived before the installation. The diode is nonlinear and is reflected in the characteristics of the system (Jacobson, and Delucchi 2011:1155). The output current from the solar panels and the power equation both in parallel and series connected cell modules are given as follows;
For this equation, the series resistance. Rs value is very low while the parallel resistance Rp value is very high for silicon in the idyllic state. These values can, therefore, be neglected. The power producers by the PV modules and the graphs can be represented as follows;
The type of the modules depends on the material used in this case and the accountability of the materials with high power output. For renewable and sustainable energy, the modules are laid with material like silicon. The installed capacity of the power from the solar over the past years in Australia is given in the graph below.
Unlike other fossil fuels that are still being relied on in most of the countries like the United States, solar panels usually generate energy with no carbon pollution or air, ash, waste products, and only input sunlight. So, the installation of the solar panels must be in a place where there is the availability of the sun to provide energy to be supplied. The plants do not generate carbon dioxide or other heat-trapping gasses that result in climate change and always avoids environmental risks brought by a natural gas including unnecessary water pollution during extraction. The policy environment under which large-scale solar farms have been adopted to help in proper installation and maintenance of the power supply. The renewable electricity standards are major drivers of large-scale renewable energy development like the solar in Australia, in that, there is legislation requiring utilities to acquire a specific amount of the electricity sales from the solar energy by certain dates (Kear, Shah, and Walsh 2012: 1105). In addition, the solar carve-outs which require a certain amount of utilities’ resignation with the renewable electricity standard to originate from solar or the multipliers to provide additional compliance credit for solar investments.
Critically examine and assess the environmental issues associated with the large-scale solar farm.
Despite the positive impacts that the large-scale farms have, it also depicts various issues to the environment that need to the mitigated and eradicated. According to the research, the environment is very critical, and any problem associated with it may also affect the living organisms including human beings. The issues may include the following;
Harm to wildlife
In order to supply a considerable amount of energy, the solar farms will require large tracts of land. Certain states like California have deserts with enough space and sunlight, but they are also habitats for wildlife. The desert grounds are usually a breeding ground for some organisms. For instance, the desert tortoise will be reduced in the California Mojave Desert if the Solar Generating System is installed in the region (Turney, and Fthenakis 2011: 3262). The solar farm also comes as scrutiny when there is an increase in the number of bird deaths and other land organisms. The heat from the solar farm’s mirror burn-off their wings. Therefore, the environment is deteriorated leading reduced wildlife and tourist attraction areas.
Land use and Thermal pollution
The solar panels have negative impacts on the natural ecosystem. These issues are related to certain factors such as the topography of land and area that would be covered, biodiversity, and sensitive ecosystem. The solar cells can cause possible harm to cultivated land leading to a reduction in productivity in the areas. Large-scale utilization of the farms affects the thermal balance through absorption of more energy by the earth’s surface which could have been reflected space (Rodrigues, Montañés, and Fueyo 2010: 240). Additional heat might interfere with the species in regards to the harsh environment. When the thermal balance of the area is altered, then the environment faces uncertain changes that may affect the entire ecosystem.
Discharge of Pollutants
During operations, the solar cells do not emit any pollutant; however, the solar cell modules have toxic substances, and there is a possible risk of letting out these chemicals to the environment. Thus, proper awareness and precautions should be upheld for a risky occurrence like a fire outbreak. When the chemical from the solar cell modules are released it might be accidental to the soil and groundwater hence poses a great threat to the environment. The people maintaining these facilities should be aware of the risk, and any tiny mistake of installation should not happen. The chemicals should only be in the solar cell modules. In other words, the panels cells should be made of a resistant material for the chemical like lead.
The solar panels may lead to visual effects depending on the surrounding and scheme of the solar cells. Regarding the applications on the buildings, the solar cells are used as cladding material that can be unified in the building during construction. The applications of solar cells after the construction phase may lead to negative visual impacts (Hernandez et al. 2014: 770). The utilization of the cell should be planned at the architecture phase and fitted to minimize visual pollution. The larger panel cell applications need proper sitting and design; thus, there should be an appropriate use of colour while assembling the solar cell panels.
The solar panels usually do not make noise during its operation, and however, during the construction phase, there is a little noise as usual when dealing with other construction activities. Since the solar panels are placed in a large area, there will intensive noise when fitting all the solar cells in the require farm (Espinosa et al. 2014: 855). Noise may disturb the people residing around the area and cause some implications to the body. The environment encompasses various people with different reactions; thus, caution should be taken when installing solar farms.
Effect on Natural resources
The solar cells have negative impacts on the environment mostly during its production just like other systems. The energy required during production of the solar energy s still produced in conservative methods today. There are some dangerous chemical substances used in production and escape as by-products (Varma, and Salama 2011: 4). For instance, the solar cell batteries have a risk on natural resources by enabling short lifespan and bearing heavy metal to the soil like the cadmium. The chemicals and metals are a threat to the soil and underground water and ultimately cause a reduction of natural resources.
Typically, the solar panels do not release substances into the air during their operation; however, some emissions are depicted during the transport and manufacturing stages. The emissions of certain gases are as a result of transport of modules which is insignificant when related to the emissions connected with their manufacture. The emissions lead to air pollution from the vehicles is involved in transportation and the chemical that may be emitted during the manufacturing phase.
Discuss and critically evaluate the economics of the large-scale solar farm.
The cost of the renewable energy has decreased drastically over the past years since the prices of solar dropped dramatically. The large-scale farms can be created now that the cost is low and there is investment looming. The economics driving large-scale solar farms are intensively covered, and the decarbonizing implication is seen in many parts of Australia. The following the economics for large-scale solar farms in Sydney;
The evaluation of the fixed and variable cost of a solar plant
The cost of a solar plant and the capital needed to create a solar farm is very important. When dealing with panels, there should be a proper calculation on the number of solar cells required in the farm and the corresponding power supply needed by the building around. The area under which the solar panels should be installed must be investigated first in regards to space and sunshine availability (Watson, and Hudson 2015: 20). The reduction in the cost of solar panels enables the state government to acquire more of them to start up a large-scale solar farm which can distribute electrical energy to many buildings in towns. The cost of the panels may be varied in some cases, so, the estimation of capital required must be of surety. The plant may require relocation of some homes to get the space needed. The displaced families need to be compensated first in order to continue with projects.
Tax credits and incentives.
This is one of the biggest drivers for the development of solar farms. The 30% investment tax credit in Australia at a federal level has led to the establishment of solar. However, the state tax credit is an essential part of selecting a specific development site. The report on the large-scale solar farms indicates that most of the projects in the population are situated where the solar energy and resources are most substantial, and the state-level policies encourage the large-scale solar farm development (Grassi, Chokani, and Abhari 2012: 75). The incentives include a local option for financing program for renewable energy and energy efficiency, Property Tax Abatement for the solar electric system, TVA-solar solutions initiative, clean, renewable energy bonds, renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard, and USDA-High Energy Cost Grant Program.
The facilities and manpower needed to monitor and operate the solar farm in little. There is only a specific technician dedicated for regular maintenance and operation of the solar farm. The one is supported by the staff who work on the projects of the farm or other locations. It depicts the way it is easy and economical to operate the power plant once it is set up and running. The solar farms are monitored form a control room at their headquarters (Hessami, and Bowly 2011: 2755). Once the panels are installed, they should be maintained after a specific period over their lifetime to ensure maximum power output. The maintenance measures include; managing spare parts, repairing and replacing damaged panels, predictive maintenance, preventive maintenance, and site maintenance.
Some devices require electricity to operate on the solar farm. Since the electricity generated is in the form of DC, it has to be converted to AC before being fed to the grid. The inverter is used to convert the current from DC to AC and first need to be supplied with electricity which has to be AC. The tracking device also relies on electric power to operate. Also, the computers used in monitoring the operation of the panels requires electricity to run, and all of the gadgets mentioned need AC current which cannot be supplied by solar farm electricity since it is DC (Elliston, Macgill, and Diesendorf 2013: 270). The installation of the solar panels will also need certain gadgets like the welding machine to join the metal so that it can be of great reliability. All these resources should be present when developing and operating a solar farm. In other words, the farms must be supplied with an outsource electricity during its development than later make use of its electricity to run the machines.
Critically assess the social, legal and political issues as they relate to renewable energy systems in Australia.
According to Energy Security Board Advice, the installation of the solar farms must meet the percentage of the load requirements with contracts that give dispatchable and flexible capacity. Also, the market customers need to meet the same load requirements at a particular average emission level (Skoglund et al. 2010: 1735). The National Energy guarantee has outlined some issue like the jurisdictions that do not have a licensing framework for their generation, and this would show how the mechanism is connected to the existing jurisdictional legislation. The potential continuation status quo in the growth of the renewable energy policies in the country from the government level depicts that the fossil fuels still benefit from the policy settings and this shows lack of vision for a new electricity regime. The government is in control of all the activities that are occurring in the country, so, the innovation like the renewable energy must pass through the federal government to be well established.
In regards to the legal system, the installation of the renewable energy systems requires constitutional laws before being developed, and the areas need to be surveyed to ensure proper operation of the systems. The legal body in some cases refuses to give credit on some of the projects concerning renewable energy (Byrnes et al. 2013: 713). The laws must be passed an amendment follows in the parliament for the implementation of the renewable energy systems to start. The policies are given in the courts and other legal bodies to govern such activities. The actions are made clear, and the necessary steps must be taken before the installation of the renewable energy systems like solar farm and biogas energy.
In the event of installation of the renewable energy systems, there may be social issues that may arise, and this may affect its continuation in one way or the other. The community demands the supply of electricity in their homes even when the power grid is low. The surrounding community may also refuse to give up their land o set up the renewable energy systems because there is an important social activity carried out in the region. Schools or religious institutions may come up with policies to uphold their land, thus, leading to a problem of increasing renewable energy systems in Australia.
Evaluate the current types of energy supply used in the generation of electricity within New South Wales.
The energy supply in the New South Wales is deployed by the alternative resources that require a great deal of new research and development effort. There are tested technologies which are being deployed in the NSW although they appear to be uneconomical when compared to coal electricity. The current types of energy supply use in generation of electricity in the NSW include the following;
In regards to the variable, wind turbines are receiving a considerable capacity factor of up to 50% in the New South Wales wind farms, and they need less than 6 months to recoup the energy used during manufacturing. The ongoing installation if the large wind turbines are now cheaper as compared to any other renewable energy source. Thus, according to the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, it is considered complete head-to-head with coal generation technique at the current cost (Esteban, and Leary 2012: 128). Since the fossil fuels are vastly incorporating their environmental costs, there are high chances of emission trading scheme within the area resulting into competitive position of the wind turbines that should continue to strengthen instead of the fossil fuels. The size of the wind farms determines the limit of the power supply of the wind turbines. Basically, the commercial turbines have a power output of 3MW and use blades that are 60 metres long. The main barrier for the use of the wind power in New South Wales are aesthetic, and there is an issue of the effect of wind farms on birdlife; however, it is that the latter is somewhat overrated.
The past solar thermal plants were parabolic bout the concentrators which indebted in solar energy on to air, oil, water, and any other heat exchanging fluid. The heated fluid was used in this case to power steam turbines to produce the electrical energy. Currently, the solar concentrators are in a position to overcome the problem of load factor by applying energy storage prior to steam generation. The troughs plant can heat up to 400 degrees which best in heating a reservoir of molten salt (Díaz-González et al. 2012: 2155). Pure graphite can be used as an alternative medium for heat storage since it increases in heat capacity with temperature enabling storage efficiency. In the NSW, the power conversion is based on the dissociation of ammonia by heat from solar, connected to the exothermic synthesis reactor. It allows high energy storage density and the energy is stored in chemical form before the power generation cycle.
The bioenergy relies on the biomass directly to generate electricity, and it has aided in a good deal of official interest in the field of energy. The main obstacles to the improvement of biomass energy in the NSW are the low cost of fossil fuels especially coal. Also, there is imperfect understanding of the bioenergy among the policy-makers and public as a whole resulting in complexity and variety of the bioenergy production technique. The main conversion routes include direct combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, biochemical, fermentation, and biomass integrated gasification combined cycle (Twidell, and Weir 2015: 109). The Australian government need to employ this electricity generation since it is more efficient and affordable as compared to others.
This type of electricity generation is not strictly renewable energy resource though considered effective. The heat and power technology are integrated into which the fuel cells are of one type may be a good energy supply currently and, in the future, given the large resources of natural gas. It is best when used both as domestic and grid scales and saves up to 10 to 16 tonnes of carbon emissions. The advantage is that there is a very high efficiency of conversion to electric power, excellent load-following capability, low carbon dioxide emissions and noise, and suitable for co-generation (Dicks, and Rand 2018: 367). The fuel technology has a possibility of overcoming the issue of limited load cycles with the trusted renewable energy resources like solar and wind turbines. The grid systems provide a generator controller to respond to variations in load that would lead to a substantial contribution to grid stability.
The development of the geothermal energy in New South Wales is growing unanimously since the energy supply can last for more than 25 years. The utilization of the geothermal energy will require a proper long-distance power transmission network. The feasibility of the energy production is currently in the exploitation phase with 32 companies ready to deliver power to the grid (Zhou et al. 2010: 380). In Australia, the geothermal energy receives support from the federal government’s renewable energy fund to improve the supply of the sustainable energy in the country. The state is utilizing the geothermal energy in most parts especially the companies that need electricity for production and other activities. The efficiency of the energy depends on the proper installation of the grid to supply energy as required.
Proposal of a large-scale solar farm next to mount piper power station in Lithgow NSW Australia
Regarding the concerns with supply of Energy within NSW creating a solar farm next to Mt. Piper power station near Lithgow in New South Wales. The development of the solar farm will require the vacant space next to the station with adequate sunshine. The solar panels to be installed must be effective because the Piper power station already has the grid system; thus, the supply of energy from the solar farm will be an added advantage. I will support the idea of developing the solar farms since it is a renewable energy source with less harm to the environment. The project should be aimed at supplying a large population, so, there must be enough solar panels that can distribute over 1400MW generation capacity of the energy.
In conclusion, the renewable energy systems need to be adopted in Australia to reduce the dominance of fossil fuels. The environment must be conserved since there are important activities like agriculture and wildlife that is also beneficial to the country. The solar farms are most efficient and more reliable energy generation technique in the New South Wales, thus, require adequate support from the government and the general public.
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