Reviewing The Development Of Alternative Energy Systems Construction Essay

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The rationale for developing a renewable energy system is that there is significant interest in renewable energy systems in the current climate due to the declining supplies of fossil fuels and due to the dramatic effect on the environment of fossil fuels. In order to reduce emissions of green house gases the Kyoto protocol was set up in 1995 by a number of countries and was implemented in 1997 and the protocol set binding targets for every country to reduce green house gas emissions by at least 5% below the emission levels of 1990 by 2012. The need for alternative energy systems is also emphasised by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) targets of having 20% of Europe's energy coming from renewable sources by 2020 and 50% from renewable sources by 2040. Other benefits of implementing renewable energy systems is that it will have a positive impact on regional development and employment and it will also reduce dependence on energy imports, ensuring sustainable security of energy supply. The European renewable energy industry has already achieved a turnover of €10 billion a year and it also employs 200,000. The EU has started to promote renewable energy technologies due to these reasons; this also highlights the need for alternative energy systems (EREC 2004 a, b).

A definition given for renewable energy by the International Energy Agency on their website is as follows "Renewable Energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly or indirectly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth. Included in the definition is energy generated from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower and ocean resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources".


There are issues to overcome when using renewable energy sources, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) there are a number of principal factors that can affect the likelihood of successful implementation of renewable energy projects (EEA 2001). These include the following types of barriers political, legislative, financial, fiscal, administrative, technological, information, education and training. An explanation of these types of barriers can be seen in the table at the end of the paper.

The aim of this research project is to develop a system for contributing to daily electricity requirements and to create awareness of the benefit of renewable energy systems. It was discovered from research that there are many systems are being developed in all types of renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass. There are continuous new developments in many sources of renewable energy system. There were a number of renewable energy systems researched for this research project and three alternative energy systems were chosen. This research project is investigating the potential contribution of a bike generating system. This system would be beneficial to health aswell as generating electricity as people would get exercise while generating electricity to charge battery or light a bulb.

Previous developers have used exercise bikes and road bikes for generating electricity. In these systems the different systems used and assessed chain and sprockets, friction drives and belt and pulley systems for energy conversion, while the generators that were used in these systems were dc motors and alternators (Strzelecki et al 2007), (Rounsevell et al 2009). The design of the system involved analysis of this previous work. It was concluded from analysing a number of these systems that the most suitable system uses a belt drive and alternator and the bike was chosen as most people have a bike in their house and could set it up to generate electricity.

There were three alternative energy systems reviewed and analysed as part of a literature review and these included a bike for generating electricity, a Beresford Pump speed ramp for generating electricity and a solar power traffic light. The bike converts the mechanical energy of the person pedalling into electrical energy. The speed ramp generates electricity from the kinetic energy of a vehicle driving over a speed ramp which compresses fluid that is driven through a channel to drive a generator to create electrical energy. The solar power traffic light harnesses solar energy from the sun which charges a battery and this power is used to power the traffic light when required.

After analysing these three alternative energy systems the bike was selected for developing and analysing using computer software. The bike system was chosen as it is an item that most people have and people could use their bike for generating electricity. This system could be incorporated into people's houses or a bike could be adapted in a gym to assist in generating electricity for people's daily needs. An appropriate selection of apparatus was chosen for generating and storing the electricity which is generated from the bike generator. The system will incorporate the following items in the development of the system: a bike, a stand to mount the bike on, a belt, a 35amp car alternator, a 12v lead acid battery, an inverter to convert the voltage from 12v to 220v and a 25 watt bulb, a laptop, and computer programs these apparatus will be utilised to show what can be powered from creating electricity with a bike. The system would also be a relatively low cost system as alternators and batteries can be easily acquired in scrap yards and garages. The method of operation of the bike generating system is as follows: the back wheel of the bike will have the tyre removed. The back wheel would act as a big pulley wheel which would have a belt around the wheel and the belt would then be attached to a pulley on the alternator. As the person would pedal the back wheel of the bike would rotate which would turn the alternator via the belt. The alternator would create electrical energy which would be converted from AC current to DC current by the bridge rectifier and would be regulated at 13.5v by the regulator to charge the battery. The battery would then store the electrical energy until required or else the electrical energy could be used directly to power light bulbs. The inverter would convert the electrical energy from 12v to 220v for use in electrical appliances. In order to carry out the analysis of the system as the system operates all parts of the bike generating system will be linked to a Lab VIEW program for monitoring the electricity generated from the person cycling the bike and then this information will be put into another program for assessing and analysing the systems performance. The Lab VIEW system will enable the operator to see the energy that they are creating while pedalling. After gathering the required information this system will enable the analysis of the output and efficiency of the system to show the bike electricity generating systems capability.


It is expected that an individual pedalling a bike at an average pace can generate approximately 100 watts of electricity (Rounsevell et al 2009). The expected results from building and analysing the project are that a bike generating system will be developed for generating electricity to supply some of people's daily requirements of energy. A program for monitoring the systems output will be created and integrated with the electricity generating system in order to monitor and record the systems power generation capabilities.

Discussions and conclusions

It can be concluded from the research undertaken that the bike electricity generator can be a useful addition to households, gyms etc. for contributing to the power requirements. If a series of these bike generating systems were connected they could assist in powering such appliances as lights in a gym, household etc. The most suitable application of the bike electricity generating system would be for supplying a battery powered system or alternatively the system could be used as an addition in supplying energy for a household.

The list of principal factors affecting the implementation of renewable energy systems can be seen in the table below:




Lack of political motivation to support the market initiatives needed for the development of renewables


Lack of an appropriate legal framework and legislation at EU and national levels that support the development of renewable. Difficulties with linking electricity or heat from renewables into the existing electricity and heat networks


Lack of appropriate financing for long-term financial benefits


Renewable energy technologies suffer from distorted competition from conventional energy sources (e.g. coal, nuclear) in terms of final end-user prices


Lack of practical support at the regional and local level to stimulate development of renewable energy projects


Technological obstacles related to research, development and demonstration

Information, education and training

Lack of awareness of the potential and possibilities for renewables

Table 1: (European Environment Agency (EEA) 2001)