Mother Nature has arranged for human energy supplies through fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, nuts and the like. These are all concentrated energy resources which are used by human beings to get various required supplies of energy. Further, nature has also arranged for energy supplies necessary for functioning of human societies and ecosystems through sunlight, water, wind, geothermal energy, fossil fuels, biodegradation, oceans, gravity, fire, lightening and many more. A bit of rational thinking would make us realize that nature desires diversity in supply of energy and we should learn to follow. Mother Nature has demonstrated a well balanced hybrid system of energies and matters in the form of this universe and presented it to us for our benefit.
Interestingly there are companies following the nature’s example, and one is referred here for general awareness. Solar Botanic is a Netherland based company developing electricity generating trees harnessing energy from wind and solar radiations. Based on nature’s design – biomimicry – the leaves (called Nanoleaves) of these trees are designed to exploit movement due to wind and their surface Nantennas (tiny electromagnetic collectors on the surface of nanoleaves) capture solar radiations, converting both to electric watts. This is a very good example of Hybrid Energy Systems closely imitating nature, although a bit technology intensive and may not be possible for everyone to follow at this point in time.
Simple hybrid systems are those that combine various types of energy or power inputs to serve the requirements of household or industry. A very common example is the natural gas and grid electricity distribution hybrid system catering for power requirements of homes and industries; however such systems combine various energy inputs which are usually harnessed from fossil fuels and negatively affect the environment. The hybrid systems that are gaining attention these days are those which combine various forms of Green Energy Supplies or those in which Green Energy Supplies are supplemented by Conventional Energy Supplies and vice versa. There can be different hybrid combinations based on the diagram shown.
The best thing about such hybrid systems is that they are economically retrofitted with existing energy supplies to improve overall delivery. Based on the location of individual domestic, commercial or industrial consumers these can be implemented to right combination to overcome the short comings of existing power supply systems and to improve the consumer’s energy efficiency. The other embedded benefits of hybrid systems are the energy security and reliability. With systems developed by companies like Solar Botanic, at one end, and natural gas-grid electricity hybrids on the other, we should explore our options to deploy the best suited hybrid system to ensure our optimized and economic lifestyle in the sustainable world.
by Syed Kamran Ali