The situation of energy production in the UK and around the globe is getting desperate. Nearly all of our energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Producing energy from these resources takes a severe toll on our environment, polluting our air, land and water with the emissions of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. However there are alternatives, they just haven’t been accepted as ways of creating vast amounts of energy. Some of these include:
* Solar Power
* Hydro-Electric Power
* Wind Power
Wind turbines use the wind to turn its blades. This spins a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.
Solar power uses Photovoltaic (or PV) systems to directly convert sunlight into electricity using solid-state technology. All solar power generated will feed directly into FPL’s grid and then into your home. During operation, PV creates no noise because it has no movable parts, and no pollution or hazardous wastes because no fuel is burned.
Biomass is plant matter such as trees, grasses, agricultural crops or other biological material. It can be used as a solid fuel, or converted into liquid or gaseous forms, for the production of electric power, heat, or chemicals or for use in vehicles.
Hydro-Electric power uses falling water. A dam is built to trap water, usually in a valley where there is an existing lake.
Water is allowed to flow through tunnels in the dam, to turn turbines and thus drive generators.
These are all called renewable energy resources because they can be used again and again and will never run out because we have unlimited sources of them. These are a great alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear sources because they cause virtually no pollution, they are more reliable, and there is a smaller chance of disastrous nuclear accidents like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island.
There are many advantages for wind power and these make it a practical and major power source for the UK. These advantages include;
* Wind is free, wind farms need no fuel.
* Produces no waste or greenhouse gases.
* The land beneath can usually still be used for farming.
* Wind farms can be tourist attractions.
* A good method of supplying energy to remote areas.
The best places for wind farms are in coastal areas, at the tops of rounded hills, open plains and gaps in mountains – places where the wind is strong and reliable. To be worthwhile, you need an average wind speed of around 25 km/h. Most wind farms in the UK are in Cornwall or Wales.
Even though wind farming is a good new concept, people are still against it for the following reasons;
* The wind is not always predictable – some days have no wind.
* Suitable areas for wind farms are often near the coast, where land is expensive.
* Some people feel that covering the landscape with these towers is unsightly.
* Can kill birds – migrating flocks tend to like strong winds.
* Can affect television reception if you live nearby.
* Noisy. A wind generator makes a constant, low, “swooshing” noise day and night, which can drive you nuts. An entire wind farm makes quite a racket! Then again, the small modern wind generators used on boats and caravans make hardly any noise.
I think that harnessing the great potential power that wind energy possesses would be a fantastic thing to do but I don’t think it will become a major source of energy for the world until all of the fossil fuels have completely run out and there is no other alternative power source.
– Hydro-Electric Power
This is a very controversial way of creating energy because it involves the relocation of villagers, large areas of land get flooded, water cannot flow as normal and the environment around the dam is affected by the lack of constantly flowing water. These are some of the main reasons why people are against mega-dams such as the Aswan dam in Egypt and the three gorges dam in China. However the dams are effective in other ways such as the great power of the water travelling through the dam and the immense amount of electricity that they can provide. Also, the unpredictability is removed from an area as the dam floods periodically and is controlled so there is enough water for the crops in the dry season.