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Chapter 1: General Introduction

1.1. Introduction
The need for energy and fuels is one of the common threads throughout history
and is related to almost everything that man does or wishes to do (advances in
agriculture, industry, transportation). Energy, in its many useful forms, is a
basic element that influences and limits our standard of living and technological
progress. It is clearly an essential support system for all of us. In the twentieth
century, the subject did not receive much attention until well into the middle of
the century, that is, the fossil fuel era, and then usually only in crisis situations
of one kind or another. Until we were confronted with energy and fuel
shortages that affected our daily lives, most of us assumed that the petroleum,
natural gas, and electric power industries would exist forever. The petroleum
age began about 150 years ago, Now world petroleum and natural gas supplies
have peaked and their supplies will slowly decline over the next 4050 years
until depleted. Although small amounts of petroleum and natural gas will remain
underground, it will be energetically and economically impossible to extract.
Moreover, they are not environmental friendly due to greenhouse gas emissions
and other pollutants. Increasing demand for energy, decreasing conventional
fossil-fuel energy sources, and environmental concerns are driving forces toward
renewable energy sources.
Energy harvesting, also called energy scavenging, is a concept by which energy
is captured, stored, and utilized using various sources by employing interfaces,
storage devices, and other units. There are many sources for harvesting energy.
Solar, wind, ocean, hydro, electromagnetic, electrostatic, thermal, vibration,
biomass and human body motion are renewable sources of energy.
Consequently, advanced technical methods should be developed to increase the
efficiency of devices in harvesting energy from various environmentally friendly
resources and converting them into electrical energy. These developments have
sparked interest in many communities such as science, engineering, and
education to develop more energy harvesting applications and new curriculums
for renewable energy and energy harvesting topics. This course describes
various energy harvesting technologies such as solar, wind, ocean and biomass
energy harvesting along with many different topologies of energy harvesting

1.2. Definitions
1.2.1. Forms of energy
In general, energy is the ability of a system to cause exterior impacts, for
instance a force across a distance. Input or output of work changes the energy
content of a body. Energy exists in many different forms such as:
mechanical energy: mechanical energy is the sum of potential energy and
kinetic energy. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an
object. The law of conservation of mechanical energy states that in an isolated
system that is only subject to conservative forces the mechanical energy is
potential energy ( is energy stored in a system of forcefully interacting physical
entities. The SI unit for measuring work and energy is the joule (symbol J).
kinetic energy (the kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses
due to its motion).
thermal energy (Thermal energy is the part of the total potential energy and
kinetic energy of an object or sample of matter that results in the system
magnetic energy
electrical energy
radiation energy (form of radiant energy, propagating through space via
electromagnetic waves and/or particles called photons)
nuclear energy (Nuclear power, or nuclear energy, is the use of exothermic
nuclear processes,[1] to generate useful heat and electricity. The term includes
nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion)
chemical energy.
According to the definition above, a litre or gallon of petrol is a potential source
of energy. Petrol burned in an internal combustion engine moves a car of a given
mass. The motion of the car is a type of work. Heat is another form of energy.
Wind contains energy that is able to move the blades of a rotor. Similarly,
sunlight can be converted to heat, thus light is another form of energy.

1.2.2. Overview of Renewable energy

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources
which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such
as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and geothermal heat. Renewable
energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity
generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy
As shown in figure1, about 16% of global final energy consumption presently
comes from renewable resources, with 10% of all energy from traditional
biomass, mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New
renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and
biofuels) account for another 3% and are growing rapidly. At the national level,
at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing
more than 20% of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are
projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond. Wind
power, for example, is growing at the rate of 30% annually, with a worldwide
installed capacity of 282,482 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2012.

Figure 1: World energy consumption (2010)

Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to

other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries.
Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in
significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. In
international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting
renewable sources such as solar power and wind power.