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        9-12

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        Running on Renewables

        Utilizing HOMER: Modeling Software for Hybrid Electric Power Systems

        Lesson Summary

        Overview

        Students utilize software developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (and maintained by HOMER Energy) called HOMER to find out what costs and benefits are associated with converting or combining sustainable technology to their school's power production portfolio. Their mission will be to best utilize a "Clean Energy Grant" to assist the school in the purchase of renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays (solar panels). Two separate courses or tracks of study based on experience are presented. In Track 1 students use a pre-existing data file and in Track 2 students create a data file to make decisions about what renewable energy sources are best utilized and most cost-effective in their region.

        Please note: the HOMER software works only on PCs. You will need extra time to download and learn how to use the software, prior to implementing this lesson. If you would like to learn more about HOMER and how it works, visit these sites:

        http://www.homerenergy.com
        http://homerusersgroup.ning.com

        Content Objectives

        Students will know that

        • Renewable and nonrenewable resources supply energy and materials.
        • Examples of alternative sources of renewable energy are solar photo voltaic (PV) cells, wind turbines, biomass and fuel cells.
        • The sun is a major source of energy that emits wavelengths of visible light, infrared and ultraviolet radiation. Light is captured by solar photo voltaic (PV) cells and converted into electricity.
        • A wind turbine uses the wind which turns the propeller like blades. The blades turn a shaft that spins a generator to make electricity.
        • Alternative sources of renewable energy can supply supplemental energy or can be utilized as an independent energy source.

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • Devise and carry out a procedure in HOMER to make decisions about what renewable energy sources are best utilized, and most cost-effective, in their region using a regionally-specific sample data set.
        • Evaluate and analyze design options for different micropower systems that model an on-grid power source to determine if the renewable resources are an adequate power source.
        • Change the renewable energy parameters within HOMER - including PV, wind turbines, fuel cells, etc.
        • Analyze factors affecting the availability of renewable and nonrenewable resources.
        • Evaluate the advantages of reusing our natural resources and renewable energy sources.
        • Describe how technology has changed the use of natural resources and how newer technologies are allowing us to create renewable energy sources.

        Assessment Strategies

        • Evaluation of completed student handout utilizing HOMER to assess the best renewable energy sources for their school.
        • Group discussion of key ideas about renewable energy sources.
        • Evaluation of the inquiry based worksheet, which evaluates how HOMER was utilized to solve an individually devised sustainable problem, and what results were interpreted from HOMER's analysis data.

        Grade Level: 9-12

        Suggested Time

        Three (3) 50 minute class periods.

        Materials

        (Per student)

        Track 1:

        Track 2:

        Multimedia Resources

        The Lesson

        Part I: Review on Renewable Energy Sources (30 minutes)

        1. Facilitate a small discussion about the importance of renewable energy sources. Provide an overview of the activities that the class is going to embark upon.

        2. As a class have the students watch the Wind QuickTime Video and go through the Wind Story Flash Interactive.

        3. Have the students also watch a movie clip on solar panels calledPhotovoltaics (pv4) QuickTime Video.

        4. Follow with a look at the Power Systems QuickTime Video.

        5. If time permits, also watch the movie clip called PA Energy's Energy from the Sun QuickTime Video.

        6. Review and discuss how wind and solar energy are renewable resources.

        Part II: Introduction to HOMER (1 50 minute Class Period)

        Track 1

        7. Introduce the basis of the HOMER lesson.

        8. Have students complete the "Running on Renewables"Student Worksheet Tracks 1 and 2 PDF Document.

        9. Allow students to work alone or in pairs at the computer to become familiar with HOMER.

        10. Allow the students to follow the instructions on using HOMER using the Student Handout Track 1 PDF Document :A Guide to Using the PA Energy File and HOMER. They will input data from the PA Energy File.hmr into the HOMER program.

        11. After students have gone through the exercise allow them to discuss their results and thoughts on renewable energy.

        Track 2

        12. Introduce the basis of the HOMER lesson.

        13. Have students complete the "Running on Renewables" Student Worksheet Tracks 1 and 2 PDF Document.

        14. Allow students to work alone or in pairs at the computer to become familiar with HOMER.

        15. Allow the students to follow the instructions on using HOMER using the Student Handout Track 2 PDF Document. They will input data from the Student Worksheet Tracks 1 and 2 PDF Document into the computer program.

        16. After students have gone through the exercise allow them to discuss their results and thoughts on renewable energy.

        Extension

        Part III: Inquiry Based Investigation Using HOMER (1 50 minute Class Period)

        17. Give students "Running on Renewables" Extension Worksheet Tracks 1 and 2 PDF Document.

        18. Explain that they want to come up with a scheme that allows HOMER to simulate their school running solely on renewable energy.

        19. Have the students work at the computer following the instructions on the Extension Worksheet Tracks 1 and 2 PDF Document.

        20. Students will first remove the Diesel generator.

        21. Students will need to adjust specific parameters and add a battery to the system. (Hint: Students may need to use an excessive amount of batteries (300 or more), about 300 or more wind turbines and at least a 25kW PV array.)

        22. Students can alter as many parameters as needed so that HOMER will be able to calculate the data.

        23. Discuss with the class if their renewable sources were effective and feasible to run a school.

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