Evaluating alternative sources of energy of the US The energy situation of the United States is currently worse, an unimaginable situation for the country. This is because of the increasingly large demand for these resources in the daily lives of Americans. As the country reaches its peaks in development and technology, it is suffering from a deficit in the energy division, wherein the demands for it are not met, and the supply isn’t enough. The demand for resources like oil has stably increased in the past years, and the country depends much on imported oil so that they could reach the increasing demand.
This also increases the price of these resources. According to Kouchi, “Since 2003, the unregulated price of natural gas has been very high and volatile – sometimes doubling in a matter of months (Kouchi). ” With the continuously increasing needs of the people, even the importation of these resources will not be able to provide for the demands. Our needs continuously increase but the supply doesn’t. Even though we turn towards exporting these important energy resources, the costs greatly hurt the pockets of the people. According to Walker, “Residential energy use in the United States will increase 25 percent by the year 2025, according to U.
S. Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts (Walker). ” Because of energy source problem we are experiencing, we are turning towards various alternative sources of energy. Our natural source is slowly getting depleted so we must find another source of the energy we need so much in life. These alternative sources of energy would provide us of the power we need to run business, fuel our transportation, and cook our meals, everything that are essential for us to live. The environment is abundant of these possible resources; it just depends on the people on how we would be able to put it into more useful forms.
These alternative resources include renewable and nonrenewable resources. The renewable resources are wood/biomass, hydropower, solar power, wind energy, wave energy, tidal power and fusion, while the nonrenewable includes oil sands, coal, shale oil, gas hydrates, nuclear fission and geothermal energy. These resources all have the potential to provide us of our needs but there are limitations for every one of them and that they pose underlying effects when they are used, so proper evaluation should be done in order to do so. The most feasible of these resources would be the solar power and that of nuclear energy.
Since sunlight is a free source for the people, and for a certain time of the day it is available, we will all be experiencing abundance in its supply here on earth. It will depend on how the person would convert the raw solar energy to become a useful form of energy. The other one would be the Nuclear energy, wherein it could really provide a lot of energy but the drawbacks are very dangerous, thus adopting this technique would really mean taking a lot of risk for the consumer. Nuclear energy is proven to generate a lot of energy for the country but risks are still there in doing so.
It has been tried and tested, and we have even paid the price of failure, and it was really big. A closer look on solar power Solar energy is derived from the light of the Sun and has already been proven useful in energy forms in a lot of traditional technologies and techniques. It has seen widespread use especially in the places which doesn’t have any means of energy available, since sunlight is readily available, even in remote places. It is also a big energy source in the outer space, wherein the sun gives off its rawest form of solar energy, wherein it gives off high intensity power that you need to process it to make it usable.
The solar energy that reaches us here on earth has undergone various activities as it passes through the atmosphere. It actually starts as a very powerful solar radiation upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, wherein it boasts more than a thousand watts per square meter of pure energy, solar power at its rawest form. As the solar radiation enters the atmosphere, some of it gets reflected backwards and only a portion proceeds and gets absorbed by the Earth. The atmosphere acts as a buffer and a barrier, filtering energy until what gets left is the usable energy for the people.
Clouds, dusts particles, and certain pollutants contribute to the rate of reflection and absorption of the atmosphere, thus regulating the amount of solar energy that reaches the surface of the Earth. Considering the rate of conversion of this energy, the photovoltaic panels, the ones used to capture and convert useful solar energy, could distinctively convert and transform some 15% of the incoming sunlight to electricity, wherein the average delivery of a solar panel in the United States would turn out to be around 19 to 56 watts per square meter or about 0. 45 to 1.
35 kilowatt-hour per square meter on each day. Solar energy could provide sufficient energy for the United States, but the turnout would still depend on the local conditions of a potential specific site, that is why it is hard to speak in a generalized manner. It is dependent on the areas where you would want to setup a solar power collection plant. Setting up a solar energy collection and conversion plant would be possible in some strategic areas. This includes most of the United States dry lands, the desert areas where there is the abundance of sunlight and has a predictable weather.
These are mostly effective in states which have enough sunlight all throughout the year. However, it is difficult to acquire solar energy on some parts of the year, especially during winter, where there is scarcely any appearance of the sun. You could not depend on the solar energy as a source all throughout the year. You would need to have another alternate source, especially when it comes to the wet seasons where there is no sufficient supply of sunlight to fuel our needs. Practical uses and applications of Solar Energy There are a lot of possible uses and applications of solar energy.
It depends on the nature of the demand for energy, since solar energy can be stored in solar cells. It could be modified to suit the situation. The main uses of solar energy would include heating, electricity generation, and desalination of seawater. The different applications include solar heating systems, solar cooking, solar lighting and photovoltaics. A solar heating system uses solar energy to heat various materials. There are some solar heating systems for heating water, wherein solar heaters may heat domestic water, or for heating swimming pools.
This is essential for people living in the United States because they are used to warm baths during the cold season. It would be the main function of solar thermal collectors, to make sure that there is warm water in case it is really needed. Solar cooking could also be done with the use of a solar box cooker, but it is not necessary and practical in the United States. Another important concept is solar lighting or daylighting, wherein it utilizes the natural light in order to illuminate a certain area or place. It literally saves natural light so that you could save on minimal usage of electric lighting systems.
Photovoltaics uses photovoltaic or solar cells in order to generate electrical currents directly from sunlight, and the generated electricity will be stored in power cells for future usage. Photovoltaic cells are also the ones that power those solar powered calculators with LCD’s, because it only uses low power. In its early years of introduction, the cost of manufacturing was high, so there were fewer experiments that explores its possible uses. But when the cost of production lessened, it became more cost-effective to the users, thus making it a practical tool for the power savers. Pros and Cons of Solar energy Pros.
According to Youngquist, “This is a favorite source of future energy for many people, comforted by the thought that it is unlimited (Youngquist). ” Classifying solar power, it is a renewable source, meaning we will not seize to enjoying its benefits as long as the sun continues to shine and reaches Earth. It doesn’t emit any kind of pollution, like air or water pollutants, because there is no combustion that is happening, so there are no by products that causes pollution. It provides electricity to far flung places, which are too far to be reached by cables and lines from a certain power plant or generator. Cons.
It is not stable and predictable because it requires or depends on a certain amount of sunlight that needs to reach Earth. The amounts vary at certain lengths of the day, and at some instances, when the weather is cloudy or rainy, sunlight may be too weak to provide solar energy. Also, photovoltaic power stations are very cost-ineffective, wherein it is only about 10% efficient, not really practical to establish one in order to provide energy for a certain area. Nuclear energy as an alternative source Nuclear energy is created or is the energy which is emitted from atomic nucleus, wherein it requires various processes in order to do so.
There are various processes involved in order to release nuclear energy from atomic nucleus. This includes radioactive decay, endothermic nuclear reactions, fusion or the combining of two atomic nuclei, and fission, or separating of the nucleus into two separate, equal parts. The United States are open into using and adopting Nuclear means in order to provide energy sources, especially when there is a great need arising from American states. Because of that increasing necessity, the natural resources could not provide all the energy requirements of the people.
Since nuclear energy is an almost limitless resource, it is a good candidate as an alternative source of energy. Nuclear power in its most useful form, really promises a lot as a source of energy. The process of attaining and extracting the energy itself does not produce any carbon dioxide, which we know that if there is excess of it, will be harmful to the environment. The nuclear power that the US is using today comes from the fission or splitting of the nucleus of uranium, plutonium or thorium, or the fusion of hydrogen into helium, wherein these processes emit a certain amount of energy.
The most common means of acquiring nuclear power is through the fission of uranium. The ratio of the energy outputs of nuclear fission of uranium is great, wherein the fission process of its atom produces roughly about ten million times the energy output of combusting the atom of carbon from coal. Talking about the duration of a nuclear power plant, the present Uranium-235 reactors are projected to last for more than a hundred years time, providing enough energy for the needs of the world.
These power plants generates roughly more or less than one million kilowatts of electricity, far greater than that of other power generating plants. But the underlying issue would be about the nuclear waste that these power plants produce. Surely, it is unavoidable not to have any waste byproducts produced. The fuel rods which is the core of these power plants, when already became spent, poses a great environmental risk, a problem being addressed by many, yet still has no concrete solution. These fuel rods are highly radioactive and dealing with this is very costly.
Fuel rods lasts about two years, until when enough of the Uranium-235 has been changed into fission products, and when these builds up, the fuel rods should already be replaced. The problem would then be about properly disposing these nuclear wastes. When the fuel rods are used to produce heat to which raises or creates steam to generate or produce electricity, it also produces the unnecessary wastes from spent fuel items. They maybe reused for a number of times, but eventually, they would be useless and the need to dispose it will arise.
If they don’t dispose it, it will decay in the environment, and since it is radioactive, it is highly hazardous to the health of living organisms. Possible solution. According to Fleming, “Various ideas about how to deal with them finally are current, but there is no standard, routinely-implemented practice. One option is to pack them, using remotely-controlled robots, into very secure containers lined with lead, steel and pure electrolytic copper, in which they must lie buried for millions of years in secure geological depositaries (Fleming).
” A solution to this problem would be sealing these radioactive materials in a container with various elements that serves as its linings, like lead, steel and electrolytic copper. After that it would be buried in geologically secure places around the world so that it will not be disturbed while it undergoes the decaying process. But doing so is very impractical, especially now that we lack resources for energy. It is not practical because the energy costs of making the containers made up of various metals is very great, wherein the energy usage will be equal to the same amount of energy required to build the nuclear reactor itself.
For America, it is very impractical, and the problem would be where to burry those potentially dangerous containers, wherein most places in the country are inhabited by people, and they would surely disagree with the idea of doing so. The people would fear for their health the most. Pros and Cons Pros. Nuclear fission promises tremendous energy outputs, producing large amounts of energy with only a small amount of fuel. Comparing coal and uranium, it is said that one kilogram of uranium would be equal to that of about 3. 5 million kilograms of coal; the discrepancy between the two is very big.
In terms of the cost in creating energy, nuclear power is as cheap as using and making coal power. Also, air pollution is not produced during the production, likewise with carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, thus contributing to the worsening case of global pollution. According to McCarthy, “A major advantage of nuclear energy (and also of solar energy) is that it doesn’t put carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere (McCarthy). ” So we could clearly say that they’re not responsible for global warming or acid rain. Cons.
Along with the usefulness of nuclear energy, underlying disastrous effects would come about. Nuclear fission of Uranium would create a lot of toxic substance that are very risky for living things. It creates poisonous wastes which are highly radioactive. Disposing of these wastes would require efficient planning and monitoring, and a hefty amount of budget. The Chernobyl accident, wherein a nuclear reactor have reached melt down was just a picture of the devastating effects of establishing nuclear reactors, especially those who are uncontained, near human settlements and establishments.
It is a safety hazard for the people living near it. Establishing a nuclear reactor or power plant would require a lot of budget, even though it promises of cheaper energy, the costs of maintaining it and taking care of it until it is useless is very big. This is also prone to exploitation from those who seek power, since nuclear power is really scary and equally devastating, it could be an easy target for wrong doers and terrorists (Fleming). Summary and Integration The United States is undeniably running out of energy resources.
We are being forced to import fuel for our machineries and technologies, which is why venturing on other possible sources of energy could be a move that could turn around the tables. Both Solar and Nuclear power promises and abundance of energies acquired from various means. But we shouldn’t take each other separately, since we could use both of them hand and hand. Having a lot of sources of energy could mean stability for the coming years. Applying both solar and nuclear power to the country could mean diversification in the use of resources, thus help in preserving our natural resources.
We people are the ones who will benefit everything that these resources offer, provided that we use them properly. References: “Energy Situation”. 1996. March 12 2007. <http://www. aps. org/policy/reports/popa-reports/energy/situation. cfm>. “Solar Not Nuclear”. 2004. March 12 2007. <http://www. sea-us. org. au/alt-energy. html>. “The U. S. Press: Top Ten Nuclear Lies “. 2004. March 12 2007. <http://www. culturechange. org/n_power. htm>. Fleming, David. “Why Nuclear Power Cannot Be a Major Energy Source”. 2006. March 12 2007. <http://www. feasta. org/documents/energy/nuclear_power. htm>. Kouchi, Roger.
“Fact Sheet on Energy Situation”. 2006. March 12 2007. <http://www. wutc. wa. gov/webimage. nsf/071d50fefd435186882567ad00778646/514a2aabbe635f5b882569ba0082e42f! OpenDocument>. McCarthy, John. “Frequently Asked Questions About Nuclear Energy”. 1995. March 12 2007. <http://www-formal. stanford. edu/jmc/progress/nuclear-faq. html>. Walker, Cameron. “The Future of Alternative Energy”. 2004. March 12 2007. <http://news. nationalgeographic. com/news/2004/10/1028_041028_alternative_energy. html>. Youngquist, Walter. “Alternative Energy Sources – Myths and Realities”. 1998. March 12 2007. <http://egj. lib. uidaho. edu/egj09/youngqu1. html>.
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