It is a fact that, throughout the world, renewable energy technology is moving out of the trial phases and becoming a reality as a means of supporting our energy needs. If you’re someone who cares about the world, then renewable energy is an important issue that should be addressed. You should be aware of the difference it can make if you support and use renewable energy in your life. What exactly is renewable energy, you ask? And why do we need it? And how can you help? First, let’s address the use of general energy.
As you know energy is used to support human life all over the world. It is the stuff that runs our computers, charges our mp players and cell phones, runs our TV’s, and drives our cars. Those are the most important usages of energy I know. Every thing we use uses energy in some way.
Energy is derived from resources with the ability to generate power or turn out work.
Currently the world’s energy supply is derived from a variety of resources that we refer to as fuel. 90 percent of the world’s energy is from fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are considered non-renewable fuels. Only about 1 percent of renewable energy supports the world’s energy supply, but is clearly growing quickly due to the obvious damaging affect non-renewable energy sources are proving to have on our environment. It is believed that the use of non-renewable energy as our main source of power will not last another century.
- Petroleum, coal, and natural gas are non-renewable energy sources.
- Petroleum, coal and natural gas are fossil fuels that formed far beneath the earth millions of years ago.
- Fossil fuels create electricity and are readily available and low-cost, but our damaging our environment.
DOWNFALL OF NON-RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
The drilling and mining of non-renewable energy resources actually change the infrastructure of the earth and harmful to the habitat in the areas drilling or mining take place.
When burned, these non-renewable energy sources such as gas, oil, and coal release toxic gases into our atmosphere.
CO2-carbon dioxides are the gases that cause the greenhouse effect. These gases are released trapping heat in our lower atmosphere. Called “global warming” the changes in our atmosphere are threatening ecosystems across the world.
SO2-sulfar dioxides are a major factor for smog, the thick grey smoke over the city, and acid rain. These contribute to our immune system dysfunctions that cause lung and eye irritations that can develop to serious problems for some people.
NOx-nitrogen oxide, which also adds to the problem of smog and acid rain, this gas causes the same harmful effect to our immune systems.
Renewable energy comes from fuels that burn “clean.” This clean energy produces little or no harmful effects in our environment and limits the impact on our delicate ecosystems. Clean energy is often referred to as “green power,’ as it allows us to produce energy without draining our natural resources. “Green power” is clearly beneficial to our environment but can also prove to achieve major economic advantages. That means that “green power” can make “green bills.” Dollar bills, y’all. Cost of imported oils from foreign lands will decrease and stabilize the cost at home. Emission control costs will also lower. The new field of renewable energy sources will create new jobs on many levels. It’s a win, wind deal. Here are a few renewable energy technologies that are in development today:
- Hydro power is using the energy of moving water such as in rivers or oceans.
- Solar energy is using the energy from the sun.
- Wind power is using the energy of the wind or air currents.
- Geothermal energy is using energy from hot water deposits below the earth’s surface.
- Biomass energy is energy derived from biological sources. Such as, wood, crop residues, and fertilizers.
RENWEWABLE ENERGY FUN FACTS
Only about 7.5% of the United States energy came from renewable power sources, in 1998, although 250 times for renewable power was available over their consumption.
In the 1940’s, one of the first modern turbines was built in Vermont.
Electricity for 600,000 families within the U.S. can be produced by the current turbine power industries.
Hawaii is home to the largest wind turbine in the world. It stands 20 stories high! And its blades expand the length of a football field.
By using renewable energy sources to provide your daily energy needs we can decease CO2 emissions with 20,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide each year, including 50 pounds of nitrogen oxide less, and 70 pounds of less sulfur dioxide omitted into our atmosphere.
Did you know 28.3 million consumers meet their energy needs through means of water as a renewable energy source?
One ton of silicon found in sand, used in photovoltaic cells, can create the equivalent amount of energy as burning 500,000 tons of coal.
Compared to a fossil fuel plant, a geothermal plant omits no nitrogen oxides, extremely little sulfur dioxide, and 1,000 – 2,000 times less carbon dioxide gases.
2,700 megawatts of electricity produced by geothermal energy sources is equivalent to the power produced by 3 nuclear power plants. This is enough energy to provide power to 3.5 million homes.
During 1982, in California, U.S.A, the first large solar energy plant opened.
Every hour enough sunlight reaches the earth’s surface that could potentially provide the world with power for one year.
John Herschel, a British astronomer, converted solar power by using a solar collector box to cook food while on an African expedition, in 1830.
In, 1931, Albert Einstein, collected a Nobel Prize for is work in solar and photovoltaic experimentation.
The first examples of geothermal power are the volcanoes and geysers.
In 1948, at Ohio State University in the U.S., a professor created the first geothermal heating method.
For 2,000 years water power has been grinding grains in throughout the world.
One turbine powered by wind can meet the electrical needs of 300 homes.
During 200 B.C., the Middle-East and China circulated water and grinded grains using windmills.
Bio-fuels are a major source of power in developing counties such as Brazil and China. Brazil uses sugarcane converted into ethanol. China’s Sichuan Province derives gases from animal dung.
Since, 1984, two large tidal power instillations are currently in service in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin. This project that is owned by Tidal Power Corporation is run by the tremendous amount of water in the Bay of Fundy.
The Geysers in northern California hold the largest complex of geothermal energy and its capacity can produce more than 1200 megawatts.
Iceland is mounted directly above a massive volcanic system, which provides most of its homes with heat from geothermal energy.
The technology that has the most potential to reshape the world energy economy in the future may be the fuel cell.
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that combine hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyte fluid (a solution of ions that conducts an electric current.
THE PROS AND CONS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
Hydro power relies on the natural resources of water that contain a sufficient volume of water flow. Although a clean source of energy that emits very little greenhouse gases, its cost is large scale. However, dams that are created to generate hydro power can cause adverse affects to the environment.
Solar power derived from the sun arrives to earth through discrete pockets of energy called protons. A completely natural source that feeds every living thing on earth, yet only half its power reaches the earth’s surface. This energy when in excess needs to be stored in insulated tanks that store hot water and batteries. Due to the intermittent nature of this energy source it could only be used as a supplemental source of energy for the time being.
Wind power is a very promising source of energy and is clean energy. Although, it only operates 60% of the year, the rest of the energy is stored in batteries or connected to another electric source. Wind turbines function and produce to the equivalent of a traditional power station. They are known for their longevity and show great potential when combined with other green power sources.
Geothermal power resources lie beneath the earth’s surface. These reservoirs of hot water and steam are pulled up and used to generate turbines to produce electricity. The drilling cost is of course high and limits the project. But a natural process continuously produces this source of power and thus is limitless for use. It is of course a clean burning energy with limited affects on the environment. However, Hydrogen Sulfide gas, which is very toxic, is often found in these reservoirs, the gas can be removed with anti-pollution “scrubbing” apparatus.
Biomass power is derived from organic matter. Bio-fuel is made from plants or natural waste, through a fermentation process that produces methane gas, along with other types of gas fuels. There are many projects geared towards developing bio-fuels, but the cost compared to petroleum has not allowed bio-fuel development to reach its full potential.
WHY USE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES AND HOW IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
As you should have realized by now is that non-renewable energy sources are polluting our atmosphere and creating dangerous changes to our climate and overall the environment. Renewable energy sources are natural to our environment causing the least amount of damage to our earth. Although, the current use of these resources are not in full development and are intermittent, with newer technologies these resources can be changed into a new kind of power system to meet our power needs. Renewable energy resources can be used and can recover in shorts periods of time. This sustainable energy regenerates on its own and does not deplete as non-renewable energy sources does.
By being attentive the energy sources you use for your daily needs, you can limit the amount of dangerous emissions that go into our atmosphere and preserve the environment. Also, by addressing your communities and local utility station to offer alternative pricing and possible investment programs in renewable energy sources will engage the issue with the public. Look to save your money by finding ways to create “direct use” of natural energy savers such as, geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, and the passive solar daylight.
THE RENEWABLE ENERGY REVOLUTION
As the computer industry has swept our way of life with its many technologies, entrepreneurs of the up and coming renewable energy businesses are booming encouraging major corporations to jump in on this growing industry. British Petroleum Company PLC, General Electric Company, and Royal Dutch/Shell Group are some of the few major corporations to step up with large investments in renewable energy technologies. There are still other factors that will determine the pace and extent to how fast this industry will grow. This is still the argument of many economists. The cost and difficulty of developing the first cars and computers where in the same category but made their triumph into the marketplace. These are an example of important and revolutionary inventions that proved to their value in the end.
A great insight by Albert Einstein was that he realized energy and matter are just different forms of the same thing. Matter is able to be turned into energy and energy into matter. Einstein discovered the strong connection between energy and mass, which he expressed in his famous equation E=mc2. The E represents energy, m represents mass, and the c2 is a very large number, the square speed of light. Read more on this subject at: http://interestingenergyfacts.blogspot.com/2008/09/general-energy-facts.html
“Conservation.” Microsoft@ student 2007 [DVD]. Richmond, WA; Microsoft Corporation, 2006
“Water Power.” Microsoft@ student 2007 [DVD]. Richmond, WA; Microsoft Corporation, 2006
“Geothermal Energy.” Microsoft@ student 2007 [DVD]. Richmond, WA; Microsoft Corporation, 2006
“Solar Energy.” Microsoft@ student 2007 [DVD]. Richmond, WA; Microsoft Corporation, 2006
“Wind Energy.” Microsoft @ student 2007 [DVD]. Richmond, WA; Microsoft Corporation, 2006
Flavin, Christopher and Dunn, Seth. “Will Renewable Energy Come of Age in the 21st Century?” Encarta Yearbook, October 1998.
Links for Parents and Teachers:
Energy Conservation Plans
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