alternative energy technologies an introduction with computer simulations pdf

Alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly important in a world striving for energy independence, clean air, and a reprieve from global warming. Solar cells, wind power, and biofuels are some of the competing alternative energy sources hoping to gain a foothold in our future energy mix, and the economic advantages of these technologies are continually increasing as costs
are reduced and efficiencies increased. This book introduces the basic science behind a wide range of alternative energy technologies, albeit in a unique way.

Alternative sources of energy are introduced through some simple computer models which can be used to capture their behavior. Computers have permeated throughout our entire way of life, and revolutionized scientific research,opening up a whole new way in which we do science and engineering. This book not only introduces the science behind alternative energy sources (as well as some of the environmental needs for alternative energy sources), but also the role of computer simulations in elucidating the science of these systems.

In particular, simple models implemented within spreadsheet environments are discussed which makes the simulations straightforward and accessible to students with no prior programming experience. The computer models introduced in this book could be taught as part of a regular class, used as a spring board for student research, or used by researchers not familiar with computer
modeling to explore the power and versatility of simple computer simulations.

We owe much of our modern standard of living, our prosperity and comfort, to the industrial revolution and the subsequent accelerated growth of industry and technology. This is predicated, or built, upon the unsustainable extraction and consumption of fossil fuels to supply our society with the necessary energy to power such industrial growth. However, time is running out. Dwindling supplies and environmental concerns mean it is imperative that we find future energy sources which are both clean and sustainable. In other words, alternative energy sources.

How much time we have before we need to switch to alternative energy sources is open to debate, with opinion often swayed by financial interests and political pretense and misinformation. Why, if the situation is so dire, would people try to hinder our transition to a more sustainable and cleaner future?
Partly because the severity of the situation is still debatable, and also because the industrial status quo still have profits to make (and politicians to bribe via lobbying and campaign funds). But the tide is changing and alternative energy sources are becoming increasingly more economically viable and more widely adopted.

First, let’s look at why alternative energy technologies are so important
to our future (and that of the planet), before turning our attention to the
different forms of alternative energy sources which are coming together to
hopefully meet our energy needs.