We live in a world of depleting fossil fuel resources and the intelligent among us are eagerly joining the transition to alternate energy power supplies – Solar electric panels, wind turbines etc. Currently, household consumers of solar energy or wind energy are either living in remote areas where grid power is not available or they are environment enthusiasts who are changing over to alternate power supplies because of their concerns for environment. The household electricity supply systems based on solar energy and wind energy have the following configurations:
• Installation of Solar panel coupled with battery pack (storage) and inverter
• Installation of Wind Turbine coupled with battery pack (storage) and inverter
These smaller solar panels or wind turbines usually supply 12-48 VDC charging current to battery pack which is then converted to 110 / 220 VAC supplies through inverter. Some part of the supply current is consumed during the time it is available (from the solar panel or wind turbine) and remaining is stored in the battery pack for use when primary supply is not available. Very efficient gadgets are in the markets and the installers often design tailor made systems for specified locations. Most of the time, these systems provide seamless operation and may achieve “Grid Parity” in areas with abundant sun. Grid parity is the point at which the price of alternate electricity is equal to or cheaper than grid power. Experts believe that grid parity is achievable without subsidies in sunny parts of the United States by around 2015.
As we know, solar energy is only available during day time, necessitating energy storage in order to provide the continuous availability of energy during night. Both wind power and solar power are intermittent energy sources, meaning that all available output should either be utilized when it is available or stored for the time when it can be used. Wind power and solar power are somewhat complementary, as there tends to be more wind in the winter and more sun in the summer, but on days with no sun and no wind the difference needs to be made up in some manner. Various industrial researchers are testing facilities called “Combined Power Plant” linking solar, wind, biogas and hydro-storage to provide load-following power around the clock.
However, for household user of solar panel or wind turbine, the intermittent nature of power supplies can, at times, become a cause of inconvenience. Further, one may not have a house at a location which receives sufficient sunshine or wind power to cater for required electric power – the load requires installation of large solar panel or wind turbine which is not physically possible. Additionally there may be downtimes like storms, foggy conditions or clouds when the solar panel or wind turbine will not be producing sufficient electricity to charge the batteries. In such instances the household electricity consumption soon drains the batteries, and the users will be facing a blackout situation. Shall our love for environment lead us to distress and problems? Shall we make a mistake by opting for alternate energy? Should we ignore alternate energy? Certainly Not!
The situations described above are commonly experienced by consumers producing electricity independent of utility grid. For the described situations, they may change over to grid power, if available. However, a better alternative is to have one or two portable generators handy to deal these emergencies. This is analogous to the idea of Combined Power Plant where the researchers are combining various power supplies together, supplementing through one when other is not available. We cannot possibly convert our homes into combined power plants, but we can use this idea to our benefit. Some excellent portable generators are available in the market in the 2000W / 110VAC output category, with standard 12VDC leads for battery charging. Use of these portable generators is very helpful in the following ways:
• Batteries can be conveniently charged with DC current output from generator in case of any emergency situation which cuts off supply from solar panel or wind turbine for extended period of time. A 2000W portable generator can fully charge a 150 amp-hr battery in one hour. A pack of 12 such batteries can be charged in 12 hours.
• The availability of these generators help in routine make-up of battery charge thus increasing battery health and life.
• Availability of these generators makes your transition to green energy peaceful and reliable, without intermittent hassles.
• Use of these generators as backup is a better option than relying on grid power. The issues and gadgets related to synchronization of your green energy system (AC voltage) with grid power are avoided.
• Very quiet portable generators are available for the purpose.
For households, the transition from energy produced from fossil fuels (grid power) to green energy has to be a pleasant experience. As we move forward to cleaner environment we should not stumble and repent a blackout caused by long spell of cloudy weather. We should plan ahead for the rainy day and start our generators when it does come. The intermittent nature of solar and wind power should not make us shy away from such an abundant and clean source of energy. The world community at large believes that the future power source is destined to have renewable energy as the major contributor. Don’t miss your share.

Author's Bio: 

Syed Kamran Ali is a mechanical engineer with 20 years’ experience in energy sector (including alternate energy), currently engaged in developing ideas for maximizing comfort and reliability in sustainable living through intermittent use of Portable Generators http://yamahageneratoref2000is.com/yamaha-ef2000is-vs-honda-eu2000i