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Green Energy Education, the basics

In 2013, 67% of the electricity generated in the U.S. was from fossil fuel (coal, natural gas,
and petroleum)
natural gas energy icon.png
coal energy icon.png

  • Biomass

  • Geothermal

  • Solar

  • Wind





Grid-tied Solar System


In this system, your house is still "hooked" up to the Utilities Company's main power supply.  While the sun is down/low in the sky or obstructed by thick clouds, the Utilities furnishes you power & you pay them.  During the day, your solar panels provide "the grid"/Utilities Company & they pay you!  In some places in Alabama, they pay you, per KW, more than you pay them.

Solar Panels (Photovoltaics / PV)

Uses the fact that sunlight, traveling as photons, "excites" electrons of a charged Silicone wafer.

As these electrons "flow", they produce a current
of electricity.

Off-Grid Solar System


In this system, your house is not "hooked" up to the Utilities Company's main power supply.  This is necessary in rural areas.  Your house is completely powered by your panels while the sun is out.  Also your panels charge batteries.  These batteries power your house at night and on very overcast days.  There is more expense when buying batteries & they only last around 10 years.  The battery technology is not quite as advanced as that of panels.

Geothermal Heating & Cooling

Uses the fact that the ground temperature is a consistent temperature regardless of the season.

10 feet below the surface, it is a constant temperature of about 65 degrees F.  The actual soil acts as a heat exchanger.  Pipe, filled with a 'treated' water, is used to exchange the air temperature in your house for the temperature in the ground.

Summer / Cooling


In the summer time the ground temperature is cooler than the air / house temperature. 
The warmer

temperature in your house is exchanged for the cooler temp. in the ground.


Bonus :  The excess hot temperature can cheaply heat your water for the house.

Winter / Heating


In the winter time the ground temperature is warmer than the air / house temperature.  The cooler

temperature in your house is exchanged for the warmer temp. in the ground.

100 feet of pipe is required for each ton of your system.

This pipe can go straight down by drilling or run horizontal as a loop in a 6 feet deep trench.

A Geothermal Heat Pump is about 5 times more efficient than a standard heat pump

Solar Hot Water System

Uses the fact that the roof temperature, due to sunlight/passive solar radiation, is usually hotter than tap water.

Collectors on the roof coil around to get the maximum sunlight/heat.  The temperature of this hotter fluid/water is exchanged to the cooler temperature of your tap water within the hot water tank. 

Wind Energy

Modern day wind turbines work using the same principle as Hydro-power. 

The motion of the blades by wind is transferred into

electricity by a generator.

  Instead of one dam using one big generator, many wind turbines, each with a generator, work in series


 In the U.S., we use less than 1% Wind of the total power generated:  we could be generating up to 20%

The vast majority of Alabama does not even have marginally useful winds. 

The wind is not consistent enough.

Other Renewable Energies are


  • Biomass (like burning wood) Recently-living natural materials (plants & trees) are converted into energy. It is the largest source world-wide of renewable energy

  • Hydropower (like hydroelectric plants)  The Earth's water cycle is used to generated power.

  • Biofuels (like biogasoline (e.g. ethanol) and biodiesel)  Renewable organic materials (plants & treees) are transformed into fuel.

  • Ocean Power (like tidal generators) The ocean can produce two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun's heat, and mechanical energy from the tides and waves.

Most Green Energy Investment Qualifies for a 30% Tax Credit

Federal IRS Form 5695,

Residential Energy Credits


For certain green energy improvement costs to your house, you get a 30% tax credit on your federal tax return.

It's referred to as the Energy Tax Credit.

That  30% is only for the rest of 2019. 

In 2020 the credit goes down to 26%

In 2021 it goes down to 22%

Then it will not exist unless US Congress extends it by law.


This includes 

  • PV/solar panels,

  • solar Hot water heating,

  • fuel cells  &

  • wind generators

  • geothermal heat pumps

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