Alternative Energy Sources

Topics: Energy development, Fossil fuel, Nuclear power Pages: 6 (1761 words) Published: October 6, 2013

Alternative Energy Sources
Fossil fuels will not last forever. If the human race wishes to continue to live the way we do, then we have to look at alternative energy sources such as: geothermal, nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy. Alternative energy sources are not without faults, but along with faults, there are benefits and solutions to the issues.

Geothermal energy is a well-proven energy resource that can be used to provide both heat and electricity. Geothermal energy is very predictable and producers power 24 hours a day, 7 days as week. Ground based geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling can be used almost anywhere. Geothermal energy resources exist in many areas of the world for both high and low temperature applications. Geothermal energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of energy. Once the geothermal power stations are built they cost very little to operate making geothermal generated electricity cheap. Using geothermal energy directly for heating applications can be up to 70% more efficient. The steam used for electricity production is turned into water and recycled back into the Earth.

Geothermal energy is a total package, so there are disadvantages. Geothermal energy may not be considered as a renewable resource only a sustainable one. A significant investment is often required prior to building a geothermal power station. The availability of geothermal energy that is capable of feeding geothermal power stations is limited since they run on the heat generated by the earth. Geothermal power stations have the potential to cool the rocks beneath them buried deep under the ground. Geothermal power stations, as with many other power station designs can be unsightly and provide visual pollution. Building a geothermal station requires large areas of excavation for horizontal trenches and drilling bore holes deep into the ground for vertical wells. After a few years it may require the drilling of new wells.

Nuclear energy is already the No. 2 source of electricity in the United States. Unlike fossil fuels such as: coal, oil, and natural gases; nuclear power does not produce any greenhouse gases, which are considered to be the main cause of global warming. By using nuclear power instead of fossil fuel-based plants, the U.S. nuclear energy industry prevented 681 million metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in 2006. At a global level, 439 nuclear plants produce sixteen percent of the world’s electricity while avoiding the emission of 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. The Office of Nuclear Energy reports that one ton of uranium produces more than forty million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which can replace the equivalent of burning 16,000 tons of coal or using eighty thousand barrels of oil. Nuclear power plants improve air quality by reducing smog.

Many people already know the disadvantages of nuclear energy. Nuclear and radioactive accidents are worst than in conventional fossil fuel power stations releasing radioactive pollutants and water into the surrounding environment, which can have a significant impact on the planet in general. Nuclear waste is extremely toxic and takes thousands of years to decompose. The waste products and spent fuel rods used in the generation of electricity last for many thousands of years which is why nuclear waste is stored in sealed containers and buried in controlled locations and not just dumped but the more nuclear energy that is generated the more hazardous wastes get accumulated. Nuclear fuels are physically more rare than fossil fuels. Nuclear and radioactive accidents are worst than in conventional fossil fuel power stations releasing radioactive pollutants and water into the surrounding environment, which can have a significant impact on the planet in general. Eutrophication is another result of radioactive wastes or the process of pollution depleting the oxygen supply in a lake or pond.

Solar energy is probably the...

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