The use of alternative, renewable energy is becoming increasingly important given rising energy costs and need to slow the effects of climate change on our earth. These solutions may seem far off from everyday use by homeowners but the truth is that they are in our reach now. There are many options that require a very reasonable financial investment. Further savings can be achieved by taking advantage of state tax, federal tax, and utility incentives and rebates. Many renewable energy technologies are old processes made new. We all know about the significant increase in solar power and Wind Turbine production, but what of gasification technology ? This is a very old process that is evolving into a major consideration in the renewable energy debate.
So what is gasification?
It is a set of chemical reactions that uses limited oxygen to convert a carbon-containing feedstock into a synthetic gas, or syngas. It sounds like combustion, but it’s not. Combustion uses an abundance of oxygen to produce heat and light by burning. Gasification uses only a tiny amount of oxygen, which is combined with steam and cooked under intense pressure. This initiates a series of reactions that produces a gaseous mixture composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This syngas can be burned directly or used as a starting point to manufacture fertilizers, pure hydrogen, methane or liquid transportation fuels. From a direct home use point of view – this technology may not seem as important to the individual homeowner but think again!
New Horizon Corporation distributes gasification systems that can be installed in a home environment. These biomass gasification boilers can heat houses, garages and other buildings and can use a variety of fuels, including seasoned wood, corn cobs, sawdust, wood chips and any kind of pellet. Gasification will likely emerge as one of the most important energy alternatives in the coming decades. It’s the cleanest way to use coal, but also works efficiently with renewable energy sources, such as biomass. And, because one of the primary products of gasification is hydrogen, the process offers a stepping stone to producing large quantities of hydrogen for fuel cells and cleaner fuels.
Below are 6 additional options to power and heat homes through renewable energy systems.
1. Solar Panels – Are usually installed on the roof of a home or in a large backyard area. Costs range from $10,000 to $20,000. Solar Panels are eligible for most state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives and can help to reduce the total cost up to 50%. This is a good option because of the flexibility involved. Buyers have the option of storing electricity produced in batteries or selling it back to the Utility Company. While still connected to the grid your home always has a backup for days of high energy use and vise versa for when the power from the electric company is cut such as in heavy winter storms or rolling blackouts. Most come with at least a 10 year warranty since it can sometimes take that long to recoup your initial investment from utility bill savings.
2. Wind Turbines – Can reduce your bills by 15% or more. Smaller Wind Turbines cost from $1,000 to $5,000 and are usually eligible for most state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives. It is important to determine if your home is a good fit based on wind conditions, location, and the flexibility of your Home Owners Association.
3. Solar Hot Water System – These systems provide radiant heat into your house. The typical system costs between $7,000 and $15,000 and saves about 60% a year on hot water heating costs. Up to 50% of the total cost can be reduced by state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives. Pools, spas, heating for the home, and hot water heaters can be fueled with solar energy in this way.
4. Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems – These types of systems work with a liquid tube that draws heat or cooling from four hundred feet underground and pumps that heat or cooling back into the house to maintain the temperature. Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems reduce heating and cooling costs by about 50% and typically cost between $10,000 and $20,000. Geothermal Heating & Cooling Systems are usually eligible for most state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives.
5. Hydrogen Gas Fuel Cells – Hydrogen Gas can be extracted from the natural gas that comes into your home through a gas line. This hydrogen can then be used to power hydrogen fuel cells and create electricity, oxygen, and water. It is an added bonus that Oxygen, Water, and Heat are produced from this method of making electricity. The heat can be used for your home along with the electricity. Your home is required to have a natural gas line. Hydrogen Gas Fuel Cell Systems typically start at $20,000 and are usually eligible for most state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives.
6. Micro Hydro Energy Systems – Micro Hydro Energy uses an impulse or reaction turbine generator and a steady supply of water to generate electricity. This is really only an option from those who live by streams, rivers, or in areas of steady rainfall where water can be funneled consistently. Otherwise it makes a great backup to the electric grid if the water utility will continue to supply water and you build a piping system. Costs range from $1,000 to $15,000. You will need to find out if your installation is eligible for state, federal, and utility tax credits and incentives.
Whatever your choices it is clear that the future will be dominated by renewable energies and understanding what is up and coming in this emerging field of technology will be crucial to us all.