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Caribbean has potential for renewable energies

By VERDEL BISHOP Thursday, June 16 2011

The Caribbean harbours great potential for renewable energies. At present, over 90 percent of energy used in the Caribbean is fuelled by oil. Speaking at the Caribbean investment Forum at the Trinidad Hilton on Monday, presenter, Johan Sydow, Director, Sitek Ltd, said the Caribbean is poised to take advantage of a number of alternative forms of energy. He said solar water heaters, wind turbines, solar PV and geothermal energy are all within the realm of possibility for energy production in the Caribbean.

Sydow noted that in the Caribbean, the trade winds and abundant sunshine provide ideal conditions for green energy.

On use for solar energy is the solar water heater, which Sydow said has proven to be a highly efficient and reliable form of renewable energy. Apart from being cost effective, solar energy is also pollution free and provides an environment friendly option of energy generation. The widespread use of renewable energy in the form of solar heating will reduce the need for oil and gas consumption and this will reduce the emission of green house gases. Solar heating, solar air conditioning, and solar cooking systems are some of the most popular applications of solar power.

Solar water heaters make use of the solar energy to heat water. They are composed of solar thermal collectors and a fluid system that helps in the transfer of heat from the collector to the point of use. Solar water heating systems are good for both home as well as business use. They are used to heat water that can be used for sanitary purposes or for generating electricity. To heat water in a solar water heater, a collector is fixed on the roof of a building or a wall that faces the sun. It is generally made of a glass-topped insulated box with a solar absorber, which is made of sheet metal painted black with copper pipes attached to it.

Today, around 1.5 million households and businesses across the United States have solar water heaters. In Trinidad and Tobago persons wishing to install solar water heaters are provided with an incentive by the government. According to Solaris Energy, local distributers of solar water heaters, solar water heaters, also called solar domestic hot water systems, can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for the home or commercial use. Marcia Ramkissoon, Sales Representative at Solaris Energy said there is a high demand for solar water heaters. “Solar water systems are gaining popularity. Customers are encouraged to convert to solar water heaters through government incentives which is a 25 percent tax allowance for households and 150 percent wear and tear allowance for commercial enterprises,” Ramkissoon said.

History of Solar Energy

People have harnessed solar energy for centuries. As early as the seventh century BC, people used simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire. More than 100 years ago in France, a scientist used heat from a solar

collector to make steam to drive a steam engine. In the beginning of this century, scientists and engineers began researching ways to use solar energy in earnest. One important development was a remarkably efficient solar boiler invented by Charles Greeley Abbott, an American astrophysicist, in 1936. The solar water heater gained popularity at this time in Florida, California, and the South-west. The industry started in the early 1920s and was in full swing just before World War II. This growth lasted until the mid-1950s when low-cost natural gas became the primary fuel for heating American homes. The public and world governments remained largely indifferent to the possibilities of solar energy until the oil shortages of the 1970s. Today, people use solar energy to heat buildings and water and to generate electricity. Solar Collectors Heating with solar energy is not as easy as you might think. Capturing sunlight and putting it to work is difficult because the solar energy that reaches the earth is spread out over such a large area. The sun does not deliver that much energy to any one place at any one time. How much solar energy a place receives depends on several conditions. These include the time of day, the season of the year, the latitude of the area, and the clearness or cloudiness of the sky.

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