Personal Energy Systems Calculations: Part I
It has not been since the Carter presidency in the United States (1980) that energy has been the general concern it is now. The occasion of peak oil has not been an unexpected surprise. It had been predicted with some accuracy decades ago, and those predictions have held up fairly well. The need for new energy sources, or ways of living with much less energy, is emerging as a new emphasis for engineering. Power electronics appears to have a hopeful future.
The problem of alternative energy, especially when addressed at the small-scale (personal or family) level, where it is capable of solution by an engineer, can motivate some creative problem-solving. Some of the more obvious ideas for energy generation, or storage, can be analyzed at lunch doing math on napkins. Let's do some here. (Run off a copy of this article and take it to lunch with some other technologists.)
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