Alternative Energy Research Paper

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Prof. C
Comp. 1-Research Paper
7 Nov. 2008
Within the next few years, one can expect to see a vast change in the way that mankind harnesses energy. Alternative fuels will play a colossal role in what has become one of our generation’s largest challenges, limited supplies of fossil fuels. Scientists have been working for years to develop alternative methods to power the globe given that materials such as coal and oil are not renewable resources. Once they are used up, they are gone forever. New forms of energy have to be developed but what other sources are there and where will each work best? With fuel prices increasing every year and the theory that CO2 emissions from coal and petroleum products are heating up the globe, other resources of energy are being developed and put into use around the world. One of the new resources that is being put to use is wind energy. This particular type of energy is based on the old concept of windmills that used to be used on farms. When the wind blows it causes the blades on the windmill to spin. This spinning in turn, spins a turbine inside of a small generator. That action creates electricity. Although windmills are fantastic, they are not practical everywhere. Wind turbines need to have at least a 14 mph wind speed in order to do any good( Wind Power). Unfortunately this is not found everywhere. So wind turbines must be put only in places that remain consistently windy. The wind farms are also built in areas that are wide open with flat terrain. Iowa is now home to over 600 wind turbines (Wind Power). This number of wind turbines produces enough electricity to power about 140,000 homes. Minnesota and Wisconsin are also putting the technology to use in there windy locations. Some schools in Iowa are even using these wind turbines to power their schools (Wind Power). And when it comes to size on these, bigger is most definitely better. The higher that the turbine is, the more wind that it reaches, thus, creating more electricity. At the flying Cloud wind plant in northeast Iowa the wind turbines are about 240 feet tall. The largest wind turbine in the world is located in Hawaii, it stands 20 stories tall and has blades the length of a football field. The tower which holds the blades of the turbine high in the air is hollow and made of steel. The blades are made of a lighter material called fiberglass and polyester (Wind Power). So in all, a wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. A fan uses electricity to create wind. But a wind turbine uses wind to create electricity. The key is making sure that we put them in the correct locations where there is a substantial enough breeze for the wind turbines to operate. Water power or hydroelectric power has been yet another alternative resource of energy that has proven to be very efficient. Hydroelectricity is generated by the force of falling water. This method has been proven to be one of the cleanest and safest ways to produce energy. It is also extremely reliable and cost the least out of all energy resources. This means that the customers who are operating under this source of power pay very little compared to some other resources. Hydroelectric power is very similar in concept to that of the wind turbine. But instead of the wind spinning the blades, with this, it’s the force of the water. Water is held behind a dam forming an artificial lake. The enormous force of the water from the reservoir through the dam is what spins the blades on the giant turbine (Hydroelectric Power). The turbine is connected to a generator that will create electricity as it spins. Once the water has passed through the turbine spinning the blades to create electricity the water then flows back into the river on the other side of the dam (Hydroelectric Power). Energy resources like this one have proven to be very productive in the past couple of years, creating power for millions of homes every year. Things like this are a huge step in the...
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