Dr. Shirley Thompson -Natural Resources Institute
204‑474‑7170  |  s_thompson@umanitoba.ca

Alternative Energies and Energy Efficiency

With increasing concerns about climate change, peak oil and rising energy costs, oil dependent communities should explore renewable energies and energy efficiency. This requires that we not only look at the supply side but also the demand side to reduce the need for energy by finding ways to use less. Since the early 1990’s there have been significant developments in various Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) for commercial, industrial and residential sectors, which make them competitive with fossil fuels. RETs have advantages over non-renewables that include low energy-cost, oil independence and pollution free generation, but also have disadvantages, which include reduced reliability and high initial cost.

Energy sources, such as wind and solar require back-up by a stable source, if there is no grid connection (due to their intermittent nature) to guarantee reliable power supply. A reserve capacity is necessary to act as a back up to overcome fluctuations and reliability issues with wind and solar intermittent sources that don’t generate energy when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. Although RETs do not burn fossil fuels, they often require back-up systems that do. All renewable energies require that resource availability be compared to the loads to determine if the site-specific production meets the local need. RETs combined with energy storage systems provide a reliable energy supply, which is the highest priority in the design of an isolated power system. Natural energy flows vary and make the techno-economic performance of renewable energy conversion highly site specific. There are a host of renewable energies, including wind power, solar PV, biomass, etc, but are any feasible at your specific location?