Ecology And Environment

Finding Alternate Power Sources



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In today's world, energy resources have become an extremely vital issue to learn about, discuss and most importantly, to find new sources to tap in to. This paper will cover renewable energy sources. I believe if we develop the technology that allows us to tap into these resources; we will solve the world's energy crisis and be able to sustain future generations of the earth's peoples. What is renewable energy? Webster defines it as "resources that constantly renew themselves or that are regarded as practically inexhaustible." These include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and wave. Renewable resources also include some experimental or less-developed sources such as tidal power, sea currents, and ocean thermal gradients.

Secure a clean renewable energy for the future of our nation and the world is not about reducing energy usage. Moving the energy from point A to point B, or storing it at the site where it will be used, is related to using our energy most effectively and wisely. As a homeowner, choosing an electrical provider that uses renewable energy in order to provide the power the town or state requires. Sometimes it comes down to simple economics let us look at the impact of using renewable energy.

Energy resources are becoming a bigger deal as the level of fossil fuels on earth are depleted. Eventually we will not be able to use gas and oil in our cars they will run solely on alternative energy. Things like Hydroelectric power have been around for many years, just not with such magnitude. There are many kinds of alternative energy sources, they are:

1.) Solar Energy
2.) Wind Energy
3.) Hydro Energy
4.) Wave Energy
5.) Geothermal Energy

Let's discuss solar energy, we used the sun to dry our cloths and food thousands of years before why did we stop using the power of the sun. The sun is so powerful that a small percentage of the sun's power to meet our needs without any problem. Solar power is FREE to produce and gives off no waste or pollution. The solar power station can be installed in remote locations where it is difficult to run power lines. The downside of solar power is the cost to install the panels and station in order to produce electricity. Unless you are in a sunny climate, it would not be feasible to use solar power and does not work at night. Homeowners can use solar power for heating and cooling and for electricity usage, possible selling back their unused electricity to the utilities. Whereas instead of storing the electricity that is generated during the daytime in order to be used at night. Many architects are working on a process called day lighting to make homes and commercial buildings operate more efficiently. The utility companies are discovering how to concentrate the power generated from the sun in a large scale so that many homeowners do not have to make the large investment in personal solar systems. Utilizing the personal and large-scale concentrating systems has the capacity to meet rising demand for electricity in society and grow at a rapid pace.

What is concentrated solar power; many power plants use fossil fuels to boil water in order to create steam to turn the turbines. Well concentrating solar power is the same concept very large U shaped mirrors are aimed at the sun to collect the rays. Through the power of the sunlight, there is a pipe with oil in the middle of these mirrors that is heated in order to boil the water to create the steam to turn the turbine. This is called a parabolic trough system. Another system that is used to generate electricity from solar is, the power tower, which uses a large field of mirrors collect the sunlight directing it back to a tower in the middle of the field. At the tower, the sunlight heats molten salt to begin flowing toward a conventional steam generator. This is a very efficient method for the simple fact the energy can be stored for days before being converted into electricity. So even on cloudy days, electricity can be generated. The molten salt retains hit very efficiently.

The home uses of solar generation are through the photovoltaic's a created with many modules of semiconducting material. On an average 10 to 20 PV units are required to generate enough power for an entire household. With the newer research and increasing efficiencies of the PV solar cells to capture the suns power and convert it to electricity, we now have solar shingles instead of panels to mount to our roof tops. These solar shingles offer the same durability and protection as its asphalt counterparts. With one added benefit, it can generate electricity for the household.

The second renewable energy source that has been around for years is wind energy, the Babylonians and Chinese used wind to irrigate farms 4,000 years ago to pump water. In addition, before that use of wind the wind was used for sailing. The benefits of wind power were that they require no fuel and do not omit any greenhouse gases. Great methods to provide energy to remote locations where costly to run electricity lines and are a great tourist attraction. Unfortunately, wind is not always predictable and sometimes nonexistent. Two places that the wind farms are installed are on the coast where the land usually is expensive and due to migratory paths of birds, the turbines disrupt bird's flights. Wind turbines can be used as stand alone, connected to a utility grid, or combined with PV systems. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity today; the United States can generate 10,000 megawatts of electricity. Which is enough energy to power 2.5 million average American homes and with more development, wind energy will be able to provide 20% of the United States energy needs.

The third renewable energy source is Hydro electric power providing 20% of our electricity today, the Greeks called water hydro and in 1878 the first house was powered by hydroelectric. Once the Hydro dam was built, the energy is virtually free. This source of power is much more reliable then Wind, Solar, and Wave. The water is stored above the dam in a holding area to handle the supply and consistently provide uninterruptable power. How does this process work you; Water constantly moves through a vast global cycle, evaporating from lakes and oceans, forming clouds, precipitating as rain or snow, and then flowing back down to the ocean. The energy of this water cycle, which is driven by the sun, can be tapped to produce electricity. Hydropower uses fuel water not used up in the process. The water cycle is an endless, constantly recharging system; hydropower is considered a renewable energy. This process of flowing water captured for electricity is hydropower and kinetic energy is the technical name. An impoundment facility is the most common hydroelectric power plant and uses a reservoir to store river water to control electricity or reservoir levels. This one of the most reliable renewable energy producing option we have to date and can provide enough electricity for the United States.

A fourth renewable energy that uses hydro for producing electricity is Wave energy. Wave energy cannot be implemented on every shoreline. It depends on the wave power and intensity because it converts the power from surface waves and pressure flucertation below the surface. On the western shoreline of the United States, the waves could generate 40 to 70 kilowatts per meter of shoreline. The wave technology can be used on onshore and offshore generating stations. Offshore stations are situated in water 131 feet deep using the bobbing motion of the waves to power the electrical pump. With the rise and fall of the float stretches and relaxes the hoses in turn pressurizing the water to turn the turbine. The onshore stations generate power by the breaking waves hitting the shoreline. There are 3 types of stations in use to produce electricity from waves; Oscillating water column, Tapchan, and Pendulor device.

The oscillating water column consists of a partially submerged concrete or steel structure that has an opening to the sea below the waterline. It encloses a column of air above a column of water. As waves enter the air column, they cause the water column to rise and fall. This alternately compresses and depressurizes the air column. As the wave retreats, the air is drawn back through the turbine because of the reduced air pressure on the ocean side of the turbine.

The Tapchan or tapered channel system consists of a tapered channel, which feeds into a reservoir constructed on cliffs above sea level. The narrowing of the channel causes the waves to increase in height as they move toward the cliff face. The waves spill over the walls of the channel into the reservoir and the stored water is then fed through a turbine.

The Pendulor wave-power device consists of a rectangular box, which is open to the sea at one end. A flap is hinged over the opening and the action of the waves causes the flap to swing back and forth. The motion powers a hydraulic pump and a generator.

The environmental impact of a wave generator has to be planned out and considered to preserve scenic shorefront. In addition, the fact of the sediment on the ocean floor can be altered changing the shoreline in the future. The cost of wave generators can be very large but the cost of maintence and fuel because seawater is free. The overall value of the wave generator outweighs the cost of building.

Finally, the fifth renewable energy production is Geo Thermal, comes from the earth's heat, which travels out from its core. There is a direct use of geothermal energy to heat buildings commercial and residential replacing 18 million barrels of oil per year. A savings of over 80% by using geothermal energy then fossil fuels omitting less or no air pollutants. Low temperature geothermal resources exist throughout the western United States, and there is tremendous potential for new direct use applications. The direct use system includes a production facility, mechanical system, and disposal system. A production facility is well to bring the hot water to the surface. The mechanical system is the piping and heat exchanger controls to deliver the heat or be processed. Finally, the disposal system is an injection system or storage pond to receive the cooled geothermal fluid. According to the EPA, geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and corresponding emissions up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment. Geothermal systems provide power to greenhouse, agriculture, industrial, and commercial facilities.

In conclusion, out of all 5 renewable resources to generate electricity and heat in my opinion that coupled with wind solar is a very dependable source of energy. Plus without hydro power plants we couldn't supply the entire country power. It will take all 5 renewable energies working at 20% capacity to supply the entire United States without burning one single fossil fuel or oil product. With these renewable energies it will cost us 40% to 70% less to run our cars and homes.

Works Cited
Websters Online Dictionary
http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/renewable+energy
Arizona Central
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/0208biz-renewable0208.html
U.S. Department of Energy
http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_biomass.html

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