Ecology And Environment

The Alternative Energy Source with the most Potential



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The alternative energy source with the most potential would be the source that requires as little energy and as little damage to habitat as possible in order to produce energy. Also, that source would have to be protected from catastrophic damage and have conditioning to make it a well regulated energy source. But it would be better if that source also could send excess energy to storage where it can be used on an as needed basis.

Biofuels made from grains, for example, require a lot of energy to produce. They are mostly grown in the more arid chaparral where it takes power to draw water from wells or to redirect water. Grains are food for humans and for the animals that supply protein to humans. There is now competition for grains, drastically rising prices and in some cases, denial of seeds to starving populations.

Other bio fuels can be made from food wastes in countries that produce huge amounts of food waste, such as coffee grounds, used cooking oils and decomposing garbage, which vents off gases that may be of use. But the costs of fermenting, managing, storing and producing machines that use bio fuels may preclude any usefulness.

Hydroelectric power is one of the most effective natural power sources, but new dams require the flooding of massive amounts of land. Few want to think of the loss of historical value when the Aswan Dam was built, or the loss of beautiful land when the Oroville Dam in California, USA was built. When placed on rivers that are migrating routes for salmon and other fish that work their way inland to spawn, there is a loss of habitat. Also, the cold water that is released is harmful to eggs and fish.

Wind power simply captures the wind while knocking out the odd migrating bird, offering the best options for generating power while requiring as little power as possible. 

Solar power simply harnesses the power of the sun to produce electricity, but huge arrays of solar panels might be too delicate for areas where there are wild variations in the weather, especially when tornadoes, extreme temperatures and extreme winds are considered.

For storage, hydroelectric dams offer the most viable options. Water is stored until it is needed and offers added benefits of flood control and water diversion to where it is needed. When water diversion and flood control needs are balanced properly, dams are a first choice.

The only other storage option lies in batteries. The current battery technology might or might not be able to provide a regulated power supply that can be tapped into when needed, stored when not needed, and properly routed to regions and areas where power needs are great. The problem with routing power in the US lies in the incredibly complicated and bad hodgepodge of minor districts and regional power agencies that have created the poorest system of national energy coordination possible.

In summary, hydroelectric, wind and solar power offer the most potential for meeting the energy needs of the future. But, sturdiness, storage and ability to use as needed should also be given attention and consideration, which makes hydroelectric power the winner. 

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