Earth Day: Standards and renewable energy sources

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management

Environmental awareness and activism took root with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Nearly 40 years later, Earth Day continues to inspire millions of people around the globe to elevate their environmental consciousness and to inspire responsibility for a healthier planet.

 

This year, as debates over climate change and energy prices heat up, arguments behind renewable energy sources support a new focus on the technologies that can harness them. The voluntary standardization community is an essential part of the world-wide environmental protection campaign, and is actively involved in efforts to accelerate the commercialization of emerging sustainable technologies.

 

Wind energy
Wind power is recognized as an important potential alternative energy source, as it generates energy without using fuel, requires no mining or drilling, and produces zero toxic waste. Worldwide, wind represents the world’s fastest-growing energy resource. Between 2000 and 2006, wind power generation more than quadrupled worldwide, although it accounts for only 1 percent of total global electricity production.

 

In the international arena, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) TC-88 subcommittee leads the development of standards that help this renewable energy to sail. The IEC 61400 family of standards covers all aspects of wind turbines, from safety and design to noise measurement and structural testing. Working closely with the IEC in this endeavor is the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), an American National Standards Institute member and accredited standards developer. According to AWEA, the wind energy facilities now in place in the U.S. can provide enough electricity to support three million American households, while displacing more than 15 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

 

Solar power
Both industry and government are exploring ways to catch rays from the sun to power everything from cars to skyscrapers. One of the most common solar technologies is photovoltaic: the conversion of sunlight into electricity via semiconductors such as crystalline silicon or various thin-film materials. Groups of PV cells are electrically configured into modules, which can be used to charge batteries, operate motors, and power any number of electrical loads.

 

More and more, solar panels are being incorporated into the roofs and facades of new buildings as a principal or auxiliary source of electric power. Alternatively, panels can be retrofitted onto existing buildings, installed on top of the existing roof structure or remotely connected to the building by a power-supplying cable. UL 1703-2004, Standard for Safety for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels, is the American National Standard that details requirements for flat-plate photovoltaic modules and panels either intended for integral or freestanding installation. Published by Underwriters Laboratories, the standard also covers electrical and mounting components for PV modules and panels. UL 1703 works in accordance with the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70, and Model Building Codes.

 

Hydroelectric power
Hydropower — harnessing the kinetic energy of moving water to generate electricity — has been used for centuries to turn wooden water wheels for milling grain. Today, hydroelectric power supplies nearly 20 percent of the world’s electricity.

 

The Hydroelectric Power Subcommittee of IEEE’s (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Energy Development and Power Generation Committee is actively engaged in the development of standards, recommended practices, and guides to support this industry. The scope of the committee covers the engineering and design aspects of hydroelectric generating station systems and equipment. Standards published by this group address design features and control systems of hydro stations, reservoir management, and computer-based control of hydroelectric plant automation.

 

Biofuels
Produced from organic matter such as wood by-products and agricultural crops, biofuels represent a viable alternative to fossil fuels. In fact, current estimates indicate that biofuels have the potential to contribute up to 30 percent of the world’s energy mix. Because of the significant improvements they offer to climate protection, energy and economic security, the commercialization of biofuels has become a focal point of international trade discussions.

 

To assist in accelerating the commoditization of these renewable energy products, The American National Standards Institute has announced the formation of a standards panel to address the full spectrum of issues related to biodiesel and bioethanol standardization. Chief among the panel’s initiatives will be efforts to promote the development and compatibility of voluntary consensus standards necessary to support the large-scale commoditization of biofuels. The first meeting of the ANSI Biofuels Standards Panel (ANSI-BSP) will convene on May 9 in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.


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