This glossary is an original copyrighted work created by Caribbean Energy Opportunities, LLC to assist those seeking to understand the basics of renewable and efficient energy generation and management. It is a work in progress and suggestions for additional definitions are invited.

Alternating Current – As opposed to direct current , is the principal means of transmitting electricity across wires to the devices that will use the power to operate lights and other devices. Electricity using devices can operate on either AC or DC, but not both. AC cannot be stored in batteries but rather must be Inverted to DC and then Inverted back when needed to operate an AC device. Appliances using DC are available, but rare.

AMPS – A measure of the amount of electricity passing a specific point at a specific time. Certain devices, such as microwave ovens, demand substantial electricity over a short amount of time and thus demand higher AMPs.

Back-up Generators – Usually diesel fueled privately owned mechanical devices which can provide all or part of a home or business electricity requirements when the primary source of electricity fails.

Balance of Systems
(“BOS”) – Shorthand for the essential but individually less expensive many components of an energy production facility.

Base Load – Has two related meanings. For a Grid of any size the Base Load represents the average minimum energy requirement over the course of a measured period such as an hour, day, week, month or year. This sets the minimum required energy production at all times. It is this minimum energy production at all times that also sets the requirement for a reliable and steady minimum energy plant or source.

Bio-Fuels – Liquids or gases which are created from organic waste or cultivated plants and which perform as a substitute for petroleum based fuels.

Completion Guarantee – A promise by an Independent Energy Developer that they will complete a new energy production facility and bring it on line, in accordance with a construction contract or Power Purchasing Agreement by a certain date. This is usually secured through a surety bond.

Demand Shifting – The process of capturing and storing excess power from when it is available, but not needed, to a time when it is required. A common example would be where Wind Turbines are generating excess and unneeded electricity in the middle of the night. Through an Energy Storage technology that otherwise wasted electricity can be saved and then made available later in the day when demand is higher.

Diesel Generator – Mechanical electricity generators which operate by combustion of diesel fuel or an equivalent such as bio-diesel. Diesel Generators are the technology of choice for commercial scale Back-Up Generators. The cost is relatively modest but the all-in price of the electricity produced includes the cost of the fuel and on-going maintenance.

Direct Current (“DC”) – As opposed to alternating current (“AC”) represents the type of electricity principally used in battery based systems such as motor vehicles and boats. Photovoltaic and wind devices generate DC which must be Inverted to AC to operate AC devices. Electricity using devices can operate on either AC or DC, but not both. DC can be stored in batteries and Inverted when needed to AC.

EPC – Refers to engineering, procurement and construction. Typically this abbreviation is used to refer the rolled up sleeves and boots on the ground players who actually design, source, and build power plants.

Energy Developer – See Independent Energy Developer.

Energy Storage – Refers to the ability to take excess electricity or power and save it for a time when it is actually needed. Energy Storage is the key to successful transition to solar and wind electricity production.

Flow Batteries – A somewhat nonspecific term that usually refers to Energy Storage devices that use liquid chemicals and membranes to store and transfer electricity.

Flywheel – A mechanical energy storage device whereby electricity is used to spin a heavy, but exquisitely balanced, weight to tens of thousands of revolutions per minute. Once the energy is needed the process is reversed and the heavy weight uses its spinning energy to turn a generator which creates immediately available electricity.

Fuel Cell – A device which can generate electricity through a chemical reaction rather than through combustion. Typical fuels used are hydrogen, propane, and methane/natural gas. Emissions are distilled water and heat.

Geo-Thermal – Refers to technology which taps into the heat of earth to convert water to steam to run electrical generators. Or, smaller installations which use the cooler surface layers of the earth as a means to cool hot fluids and thus exchange the heat of a building, for example, for the coolness of the ground.

Grid – A system of electricity generating plants and the transmission lines and Feeders which carry the electricity throughout the area served.

Ground Mount – Refers to a photovoltaic system that is attached directly to the ground through a series of posts.

Horizontal Axis Wind Generator – This is the typical propeller design with the principal variations being size, number of blades, and whether the blades point downwind or upwind. If upwind then a tail is required to keep the blades pointed into the wind. If downwind oriented then no tail is required.

Hybrid Grid – A grid with different sources of generated electricity. For example, a Hybrid Grid could use any combination of photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, diesel, stored energy all with or without being connected to the Utility Grid.

Hydrogen – The most abundant element in the universe. As a fuel it can be combusted to turn a motor or to heat water, or it can be used in a Fuel Cell to create electricity, water and heat.

Independent Energy Developer – A privately owned and managed business entity which organizes the financing, engineering, procurement and construction of a power generating facility for the purpose of selling that production to an Off Taker at a price per kWh sufficient to cover debt service, operating expenses, and profit.

Intermittency – In the context of energy development, refers to natural tendency of wind and solar resources to vary from moment to moment depending upon weather and time of day. This Intermittency is the principal impediment to the wide scale integration of such technology into the Utility Grid or as a standalone technology for residential and commercial applications.

Inverted or Inverters – Inverters are devices which can change AC to DC or DC to AC. To say that the energy has been “Inverted” means that the current has been changed from one form to the other. As most photovoltaic and wind generators create DC, that energy must be Inverted to AC in order to operate most devices.

Investment Tax Credit – Owners of eligible power systems placed into service by the end of 2016 are provided with a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of the project.

KW – See Kilowatt.

kWh – See Kilowatt Hour.

Kilowatt (“KW”) – A unit of energy representing one thousand watts. Energy production facilities are measured by the peak KW capability. Very large installations are measured in megawatts (“MW”) which are units of one thousand KW, or one million watts. A small residential photovoltaic or wind system might be rated at 5 KWDC, which translates to a peak capability under standard test conditions (“STC”) of direct current (“DC”). Such a facility would provide most or all of the electricity required for a small residence.

Kilowatt Hour (“kWh”) – A measurement of consumption of electricity in units of 1000 watts, over a one hour increment of time. A 100 watt light bulb consuming 100 watts of electricity will thus consume one tenth (0.1) kWh, over a one hour period. If the utility rate for a kWh is 40 cents, the cost to the consumer to run that 100 watt light bulb for one continuous hour is 4 cents.

LLC – See Limited Liability Company.

Lead Acid Batteries – The common form of energy storage device used in motor vehicles and also used in relatively small alternative energy installations as a means to store DC electricity for use when sun and wind resources are insufficient. This technology has been used in essentially its original form for over a century as the principal method of storing and transporting readily dispatchable electricity. It is unsuitable as a future large scale Energy Storage technology due to environmental, cost, and longevity issues.

Liability Insurance – Insurance to cover the amount owed to others who suffer personal injury or harm to their property as a result of negligent acts or omissions. Such insurance usually covers the cost of defending such claims in court.

Load – The amount of electricity demanded by a device, home, business or power Grid. Depending upon the size of the demand it is rated in either watts, KW, or MW.

Production (or Performance) Guarantee – The promise by an Independent Energy Developer to a system purchaser or Off Taker that a particular energy generating system will deliver a specified quality and quantity of electricity.

Production (or Performance) Guarantee Insurance – Insurance purchased by an Independent Energy Developer as a mean to assure that funds will be available to pay claims that a Production Guarantee has not been satisfied.

MW – See Megawatt.

MWh – See Megawatt Hour.

Megawatt (“MW”) – A unit of energy for very large power plants and representing 1000 KW or one million watts.

Megawatt Hour (“MWh”) – A measurement of consumption of very large quantities of electricity. Specifically 1000 kWh. Utilities typically describe their production in terms of MWh.

Micro-Inverters – A new and developing technology that allows each individual PV Module to have its own dedicated inverter (about the size of a paperback book) to covert its DC production to AC. This allows each PV Module to perform individually and therefore the overall performance of the Array improves.

O&M – See Operation and Maintenance.

Off Taker – A utility or business which has contractually committed to purchase all of the electricity production of an Independent Energy Developer pursuant to a Power Purchasing Agreement.

Operation & Maintenance (“O&M”) – Refers to the on-going requirement to manage an energy plant. The obligations of a company taking on the operating and maintenance duties are defined in detail in an O&M Agreement with the plant owner.

PPA Insurance – A customized bundle of insurance products appropriate to the risks of an Energy Developer.

Peak Load – The point in the day, and amount in kWh or MWh, when the Load is at its maximum. For utilities in the Caribbean the Peak Load is at Noon or Six O’clock PM. At that time the utilities must generate more electricity to meet consumer demand or the Utility Grid will fail due to demand exceeding supply.

PV – See Photovoltaic.

PPA – See Power Purchasing Agreement.

Photovoltaic (“PV”) – Refers to the ability to convert sunlight directly into DC electricity.

Plant – A specific power generating installation.

Property Insurance – Typically refers to insurance which covers physical possessions and improvements to real estate from risk of loss or damage due to weather, theft, vandalism or other sudden events.

Power Purchasing Agreement (“PPA”) – A long term, usually 10 to 20 years, contractual arrangement between a generator of electricity and one or more Off Takers.

Public Utility – In most locations the government controls the predominate energy provider as either a government owned, or government licensed and regulated, business. This entity owns and operated the Utility Grid and bills consumers individually and directly for the cost of the energy consumed.

PV Module – Typically a window sized framed unit with photovoltaic material applied against a substrate and then covered with a thin sheet of tempered glass. PV Modules also come in laminated forms and with or without glass.

Racks – The usually metal mounting systems onto which PV Modules are attached.

Roof Mount – Refers to Photovoltaic systems that are mounted on a roof of a structure.

Single Phase – Typically residential and light commercial electricity is single phase.

Solar Thermal – Refers to the use of sunlight to heat a liquid (usually water) to be used directly by the consumer or to be used as part of a steam based electricity generating plant. Not to be confused with photovoltaic (“PV”) which converts sunlight directly into electricity.

Tilt-Down Pole – A Pole for a wind turbine which can be readily lowered and raised as needed for maintenance of the wind turbine or for safety in the event of approaching extreme weather.

Three Phase – The standard commercial level electricity delivered which allows larger machinery and coolers to perform.

Transformers – Devices which take electricity from one voltage level to a higher or lower level. These also can change electricity from single phase to multiple phase.

Wind Turbine – A device which takes the energy of wind and uses it to spin an electric generator to produce DC electricity. These devices can be very small and are frequently seen on sail boats where they are used to charge batteries. Or they can range in size to several hundred feet into the air where they can capture enough wind energy to produce megawatts (“MW”) of electricity.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine – Also referred to as an “egg beater”. This is a Wind Turbine of various designs which captures the wind on multiple vertical or helical blades projecting from or attached to a vertical axis which transfers the captured wind energy into a generator. The principal advantage of this technology is that it performs more efficiently than conventional Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines in areas where wind tends to swirl or rapidly changes direction.

Voltage – A measure of the speed at which electricity can pass through a given point at a given time.

Voltage Regulation – Depending upon the country, standard Utility Grid voltage is 50 or 60 Hz. A well regulated Utility Grid maintains that voltage and does not allow it to spike above or drop below as this will cause electricity using devices, especially those with microchips, to fail.

Undersea Cable – A large cable run on the sea or ocean floor used to carry electricity.

Utility Grid – A Grid owned or operated by a government owned or licensed electricity producer as the predominate, perhaps exclusive, provider of electricity for a given geographic area. Typically the power generation and the transmission and distribution lines are owned by the same entity.

W2E – See Waste to Energy.

Waste to Energy (“W2E”) – This technology allows garbage to be efficiently incinerated or converted in such a fashion as to heat water to run a steam electricity generator and/or produce synthetic liquid or gas fuels which can be used in transportation or as standby generator fuels.

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