Alternative energy is coming to Dennis - very soon. Recently, the Selectmen organized an Alternative Energy Committee to meet with the Historic Committee for the purpose of building a game plan to bring modern energy-saving ideas to life. Because it is new, everyone is concerned that the ideas and the implementation of ideas will be cumbersome, costly and slow. In other words, a big hassle.
Not so! The Historic Committee has the ability to create very simple-to-use and easy to implement exemption forms to help home owners expedite the process of installing alternative energy technologies. Before we get to the easy application forms, let's first review the types of technologies that will fit well in the historic areas of Cape Cod.
Cape Cod brings the elements of nature together across many settings of spectacular beauty. The sun, water and wind are all part of the beauty and natural producers of alternative energy. Did you know that wind power has successfully produced energy for over 5,000 years - to power sail boats and sailing ships? Think what Christopher Columbus would have done if he had lights on the Santa Maria! Anyway, solar energy comes in two formats - photovoltaic panels which use sunlight and the thermodynamic panels which use sun heat. Interestingly, the thermal panels are all black and much harder to see.
Further developments have produced thin film solar cells which have the advantage of collecting light from all angles and are even able to collect diffuse light. These solar cells are cylinders that can be used on the back side of roofs which are not South facing. Ultimately, the best location for solar panels is flat and not visible from any public way or place. Camouflaging solar panels and placing them in locations invisible to the public is the most important step in developing a hassle free installation system. Apparently, the thin film solar cells are also half the installation cost and take a third less time to install. I can hear you outside breaking down my door already! You aren't alone, Toyota is putting solar panels on the roof of their new Prius. So there.
Wind energy is the next alternative energy concept for discussion. The 3 blade wind turbines have the ability to capture the almost year-round wind energy coming from the Bay and from Nantucket Sound. Clearly, the issue with wind energy is the visibility. More than likely these wind turbines are headed for more wooded settings and applications. Water front homes and properties can probably achieve success with wind energy on the rear of their lots in places not visible from the road or the ocean. They will require a formal, or more appropriately a certified plot plan to assure the location of the "wind mill" is not visible. Another consideration may be the more historic wind mill look of the old water pumping wind mills that were famous throughout New England in the 1800's.
Wave and Tidal energy are also highly valuable sources of alternative energy here on the Cape and in Dennis. Tidal Energy is a far more predictable source of energy than either wind or solar and can be more reliable. The application and usefulness of these two forms of Cape Cod energy would be more beneficial at a larger scale Town usage in conjunction with water front properties and locations.
As in all cases, residents and home owners have many choices. Which alternative energy works best is an individual decision and should be reviewed in that context. Making it hassle free is coming soon!