ASEE Zone 2 Conference 2017

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Alternative Energy Pros and Cons and How to Teach

Final Paper
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Wind and solar energies are becoming viable alternatives for electrical energy production. Teaching such new subjects require sound technical and extensive practical background. There are many books and resources available for providing basic principles, formulas and overall understanding of the subject. However, in real world applications, basic understanding and limited technical background would not convince skeptical customers to spend revenue and financially support such activities. The initial cost of solar or wind power systems is high and prohibits an average customer to procure such systems. The impact of the high cost can be substantially reduced if proper incentives and tax breaks are implemented. The electric utilities are required to produce certain amount of their electricity from alternative renewable sources such as wind or solar. Majority of the utilities purchase electric power generated from wind or solar under the title of “Green Energy” to satisfy the quota mandated by the federal government. On the other hand, there are private entities interested in competing with utility companies in purchasing the “Green Energy” and provide fixed contract or competitive pricing per kWh of produced energy to the suppliers. A residence or a business with installed wind or solar system not only can benefit from producing its required energy but also can produce extra power and sell it either to utilities or third parties.
A balance between power rating, site selection and incentive calculation must be maintained to provide an optimum design for an alternative energy system.
This paper presents step-by-step calculation, code and ethical consideration, cost and incentive analysis to find the optimum design for a site. The students’ participation in the installation and final commissioning of the project will be presented. This type of teaching prepares students for a complete project design, cost analysis, procurement, installation, codes and ethics, and commissioning of a project with a real world experience.


Masoud Fathizadeh    
Engineering Technology
Purdue University Northwest
United States


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