Why Renewable Energy Sources?

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ENG 102
Boris Marinov
Spring 2012
Professor Sean Homer
Research Paper

Why renewable power sources are better than nuclear power?

Nuclear power is the most productive power source. However, there are several ongoing debates around the efficiency and the usage of nuclear power. Several factors such as the catastrophes in Chernobyl and Fukushima and the depleting of coal and gas reserves have led to the idea behind the renewable power sources. The renewable power sources are the future of the energy production in the world. Renewable energy is the energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind and hydro sources. Those sources are naturally replenished and harmless for the environment. Around 19% of world’s electricity generation comes from renewables.

Nuclear energy is the most effective and debatable power source. From the opponent’s point of view, Greenpeace International stated that the Chernobyl catastrophe has been the greatest technological tragedy in the history to the present days. The World Health Organization estimated that the radioactivity released because of the crash was 200 times more than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, the radioactive waste remains hazardous and no acceptable solution has been found by the countries that have nuclear power plants. Also, a significant number of cancer deaths has been recorded. Moreover, it is mentioned by Greenpeace the cesium 137 which has been emitted affected 15 European countries. However, the other side of the coin refers to the studies around the safety and efficiency of the nuclear power stations. Nuclear power plants, compared to other power sources such as gas-fired power plants, are cheap in a long time despite their expensive construction. Moreover, nuclear power plants have proven to be resilient and safe. The best evidence can be found at the Fukushima catastrophe. “Not at Fukushima Daiichi, the power station where the meltdowns and explosions took place, but at Fukushima Daiini, the plant next door. It was run by the same slovenly company. It was hit by the same earthquake and the same tsunami. But it survived. Like every other nuclear plant struck by the wave, it went into automatic cold shutdown. With the exception of a nuclear missile attack, it withstood the sternest of all possible tests” (Monbiot). He argues that there is a great difference between the 70s and 80s safety measures. The technology nowadays is even safer. Modern reactors, still tested in China, have the automatic shutdown function in case of overheating.

Solar energy, consisting of light and heat derived from the sun, has been harnessed using many developing technologies. Solar power is naturally replenished and can cater for the needs of the energy supplies. By the end of 2011 the total photociltaic energy capacity is 67 000 MW. Active solar energy applications include space heating and cooling through the means of solar architecture, solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaics. The technologies for using solar power as a renewable energy source are categorized into active and passive. The main difference between the two is the way they capture, convert and distribute the energy. The active type of solar technologies uses solar thermal collectors to exploit the energy. Passive applications include the selection of materials with light dispersing properties, solar-oriented architecture and designing of spaces that naturally circulate air. The main difference between the two is that the active solar technologies are considered as the supply side and they increase the energy provisions while the passive solar technologies represent the demand side and reduce the need of other resources. The applications of solar energy consist of designing solar packages such as including solar lightning, heating and ventilation. Sufficient improvements of system performance are for example fans and pumps which are part of...
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