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For fun, you can purchase an electric bicycle (Figure 8-11) that you can ride until you get tired, and then power your way all the way home. Electric scooters, cars, and carts are also available, and you can purchase portable flexible solar panels (Figure 8-12) to recharge your vehicle s batteries anywhere the sun is shining. Almost any device that uses electric-
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FIGURE 8-9 Fiber-optic collector
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FIGURE 8-10 Fiber-optic light fixture
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FIGURE 8-11 Electric bicycle
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FIGURE 8-12 Flexible solar
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ity or batteries can use portable solar. You can take it with you, roll it out, and have the comforts of home anywhere, any time the sun is shining. You can place thin-film solar on a window sill and use it to recharge batteries. This type of solar is inexpensive, with many applications costing less than $100. Some universal 3-, 6-, 9-, 12-, and 24-volt chargers with multiple small applications can be purchased for less than $10.
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Solar Oven
You can even cook your food with solar energy (Figure 8-13). Solar ovens are being used successfully by households in economically disadvantaged countries such as Africa (Figure 8-14), where other alternatives are limited or do not exist. Solar ovens can be purchased at a reasonable price, or you can make your own from cardboard and reflective material. Try it yourself using cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil. You will be surprised how effective the stove will be.
FIGURE 8-13 Solar oven
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FIGURE 8-14 Solar oven in Africa
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RenewableEnergy/Images/senegal _solar_oven.jpg
Eight
Electric Lawnmower
A traditional lawnmower requires gasoline, oil, a spark plug, and an air filter. Electric lawnmowers are a better, cleaner option (Figure 8-15), and they can be charged by solar cells. Electric-powered lawnmowers have always been available, but older electric motors required that a cord be plugged into an outlet, which was cumbersome and difficult to use. Today, electric lawnmowers are battery powered. The latest mowers come with two large and powerful batteries, so you don t need to plug your mower into an electric outlet. To charge the batteries, you can place a small solar charger on your shed and connect the batteries into the charger. The average homeowner mows the lawn once a week. During the week, the batteries can be continuously charged by the solar charger. The cost of the average solar-charged electric mower is comparable to a quality gas mower. You can also find battery-powered lawn tools such as hedge trimmers, chainsaws, edgers, and more.
FIGURE 8-15 Electric lawnmower
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml02/02254b.jpg
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Solar Carport
If you need a carport, you can build it with solar (Figure 8-16) on top. The solar carport can be used to power your home, outdoor projects, or your electric car. If funding is an issue, buy a single panel at first and continue to add panels over the years.
FIGURE 8-16 Solar carport
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CHAPTER
The Real Costs of Energy Consumption
Most people who seek a photovoltaic (PV) solar system do not ask how much carbon dioxide (CO2) their system will reduce over other energyproducing systems; instead, most ask how much money the PV system will save over conventional systems. According to Energy Information Agency (EIA) data from 2007, in most households, the following is true: The average monthly electric bill was approximately $100. The average kilowatt hours (kWh) used was 936 kWh. The average price paid per kWh was 11 cents. Households in high population density areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Tokyo pay significantly higher prices for electricity than households in smaller communities. During the next 30 years, with average inflation and very moderate increases in fuel costs, you will spend a minimum of $50,000 for electricity.
Global Warming
Another huge price we pay for consuming energy comes in the form of global warming, which isn t measured in dollars and cents, but in common sense. That is, if we cannot control global warming, we will all pay globally and in ways that are far more important than money. Back in 1938, British amateur meteorologist Guy Stewart Callendar theorized that rising amounts of CO2 in the Earth s atmosphere would contribute to an increase in global temperatures. This eventually became known as the Callendar effect.
Nine In the 1950s, the U.S. government produced several educational films about the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and its effect on the Earth s temperatures. The film s producers actually proposed that global warming would be a good thing, allowing the Earth s permanent frozen areas to thaw and become suitable land for agriculture. Since then, the issue has crept into public consciousness; today, global warming is viewed as a seriously growing crisis (Figure 9-1). We cannot afford to ignore this problem. We must address the issue because it will cause radical changes to the Earth s environment and every living creature inhabiting the Earth.
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