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2014 U.S. Renewable Energy Breakdown

June 24th, 2014

Statistics reveal that nearly 82 percent of energy in the United States still comes from fossil fuels. While a move towards renewable energy exists — wind is the fastest growing renewable source — more development of alternative energy sources is needed. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the progress of American renewable energy in 2014.

Wind Energy continues to slowly grow in Capacity

As of 2012, the United States boasted installed wind turbines that provide 60 Gigawatts of electricity generating capacity. This country’s wind resources have the potential to generate over 10,000 GW of electricity. Even with that promise, the estimates for installed wind capacity only reach 500 GW by 2050.

Considering that one wind turbine providing a megawatt of electricity displaces nearly 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, additional investment in wind power bodes well for the environment. A wind power capacity of 300 GW keeps 825 million metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere on an annual basis.

Reducing the Cost of Solar Energy is Key

Solar panels covering only 0.6 percent of the United States provide enough energy for the entire country. Unfortunately, the price of solar energy equipment is what’s holding back faster adoption. The Department of Energy developed the SunShot Initiative with the hopes of reducing the costs of solar energy by 75 percent before the end of this decade.

If SunShot is successful, the expectation is that 27 percent of U.S. electricity demand will be met by solar sources by 2050. This will result in a 28 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over that same period.

Geothermal and Hydrothermal Sources offer Promise

Geothermal power sources in the United States currently keep 22 million metric tons of CO2 from polluting the atmosphere. These sources are primarily available in the Western U.S. along with Alaska and Hawaii. The amount of geothermal electricity from power plants is expected to increase from 17 billion kWh in 2011 to 56 billion kWh by 2040, making this energy source beneficial for the environment.

If the promise of renewable energy inspires you to take you engineering career to the next level, make it a point to talk to The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing agencies in Washington State, they are a great source for Seattle engineering jobs. Give them a call today!

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

July 30th, 2012

Alternative fuel vehicle research and creation has been on the rise. Fuel prices will only continue to go up as supply decreases and demand increases. More citizens are also interested in living greener lives, securing a stable, environmentally sound planet for future generations.

What makes a vehicle alternative fuel?

Any vehicle that uses another method than petroleum to power the engine. This also includes hybrid vehicles which are using methods other than gasoline, including electric or combustible materials.

What are some natural alternatives for typical fossil fuels?

The most common alternatives being researched and used are ethanol, methanol and butanol. These can be derived from renewable resources, although they provide very different by-products.

Ethanol is a renewable resource, derived from sugar starches in certain crops and produce, such as corn, grains, sugarcane and even lactose. Ethanol by-products are tolerated by most organisms.

Methanol is derived mostly from wood, but produces toxic by-products. Menthol was considered for fuel because of its hydrogenic properties.

Butanol has not been researched as much, but is derived through the fermentation of plants.

How do hybrid vehicles work?

Hybrid vehicles use two or more systems to propel the vehicle. Most on the market today use a half gasoline, half electric mix. A hybrid car has a gasoline engine; however, the engine on a hybrid is smaller. The car also has an electric motor, which acts as a motor as well as a generator. When the car needs to, it will use its electric batteries to accelerate the car. And because it acts as a generator, it can slow the car down, returning energy to the battery. The engine and electric motor turn the transmission, and then the transmission turns the wheels. The car’s cylinders also do not use fuel when the car is not moving.

How do hydrogen fuel-cell models work?

There are only a handful of these on the roads at this time, mostly because; there are very few hydrogen stations for vehicles.

The hydrogen engine can burn the substance through combustion, similarly to a traditional gas-powered vehicle.

In fuel-cell models, the hydrogen is turned into electricity through fuel cells which power an electric motor.

In both methods the only by-product is water, which is extremely environmentally friendly.

Many large car companies are successfully creating alternative fuel vehicles, the most popular being the Toyota Prius. Honda, GM, Nissan and many other companies are also offering hybrid vehicles and continue to research new ways to make our cars more environmentally friendly.

Contact The Talley Group for more information on automotive and mechanical engineering positions.

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