Examine the changing importance of three energy alternatives to oil [15 Marks].
This essay is going to examine the importance of three different alternative energies. Alternative energies are energies that can be used more than once. Some of them include solar, wind, and nuclear power.
Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy in order to make it usable. Since the energy comes from the sun, it is renewable, and abundant. The amount of energy received by the earth in 30 minutes is the equivalent to all the power used by humans in one year. Solar panels are used in order to generate electricity once the sunlight hits them. Solar energy involves less environmental damage. It also doesn’t create any atmospheric pollution, and is suitable for small-scale production. This energy is renewable, meaning that there are no fuel costs. It can be used in remote areas where it is too expensive to extend the electricity power grid. However, this energy also has its disadvantages. The high costs of solar power make it difficult for the industry to achieve full potential. Moreover, solar panels can be affected by cloud cover, and different types of seasons, and when demand arises it is not always possible. The panels are expensive and inefficient.
Another common alternative energy is wind energy. It is the use of air flow through wind turbines in order to power generators for electricity. It is an alternative to burning fossil fuels. This type of energy is really useful for a small-scale production. In order to work, it needs an exposed area, for instance, a hillside, flat land, or an off-shore location. Wind power requires strong, steady winds. These powerful winds can be found in different locations such as California and Altamont Pass. Convenient locations for wind farms are usually quite distant from centers of demand. Wind turbines don’t cause any type of pollution, and no finite resources are involved. Furthermore, this type of alternative energy reduces environmental energy damage in other places. On the other hand, wind turbines are a visual impact which can sometimes be unpleasant, and they can also be noisy. Winds may also be unreliable and have an impact on wild life like for example migrating birds.
Nuclear power is the energy released during nuclear fission while generating electricity. Most of this energy is not a renewable form of energy, but it is put into this category since the amount of raw material needed to produce a large amount of energy is very small. This power is generated by Uranium, which is mined in different parts of the world. Many countries use this energy, for instance, the United States is the country that produces most nuclear energy, providing 19% of the electricity it consumes. This energy has various advantages, one of them being its cost. Those in favor of this energy claim it is cheap, but this can result as the opposite when costs of construction and costs of accidents are taken into account. Another advantage is the security of supply. There is enough uranium for it to be considered an alternative energy, whereas with coal and oil, reserves are estimated to last around 300 years. Additionally, the European Union is in favor of nuclear power and estimates that it will need to provide 40% of its electricity. However, this energy also has its disadvantages. Uranium is a radioactive material, so this industry faces problems of decommissioning old plants and reactors. Furthermore, there are environmental fears concerning the safety of nuclear power due to the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
In conclusion, all of these alternative energies are essential since they provide the electricity needed to sustain and develop infrastructure and technology. However, they also have their disadvantages. In the future, alternative energies may play a greater role than they do today.