Preface

Behind the public eye a quiet revolution is taking place, one that will permanently alter our relationship with energy — the building block of our industrial, digital society. Most people today have heard about deregulation of the electric utility industry. A smaller but significant portion of people have joined the stock-buying frenzy surrounding fuel cell developers and other darlings of the energy IPO world. But there's much more at stake here, and this book is a first step in understanding the myriad issues facing both homeowners and businesses.

Distributed generation is not a new concept. Originally, all energy was produced and consumed at or near the process that required it. A fireplace, wood stove, and candle are all forms of "distributed" — small scale, demand-sited — energy. So is a pocket watch, alarm clock, or car battery. The key to today's energy revolution, however, involves turning the resource clock backwards (from large power plants hundreds or thousands of miles away to a "heat engine" in the building) by riding the rapidly accelerating technology wave forward.

For that reason, this book describes not only the technologies being developed today — fuel cells, microturbines, Stirling engines, photovoltaics — but also the communications and control systems that will populate the new energy landscape. The new energy world has as many questions attendant upon its birth as answers. What regulatory issues are at stake? What are the financial and economic implications? How do the installation and operation affect the building owner? What fuels can be used, and what does this all mean for the existing electric distribution system? All these questions are addressed here as well. And, finally, the profound resource and air-quality implications of combined heat and power, an old idea also given new life by a suite of technical advances, are discussed.

The editors invited the developers to represent their respective technologies, with regulatory personnel, research scientists, economists, and financial advisors all providing their unique perspectives. The final product is intended to give the engineer or energy business developer a broad understanding of the distributed generation world as it is emerging today.

The editors wish to thank several individuals, in addition to the expert chapter authors, whose contributions were critical to this book. Christian Yoder contributed to the financial sections, sharing his experience with electricity and gas trading. Craig Moorhead shared his wisdom on the future of natural gas markets. Lois Arena and Peter Curtiss undertook critical readings of the final manuscript. William Reinert first stimulated the interest of both editors in the new energy paradigm for the 21st century.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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