Investment and Efficiency of Solar and Wind Energy
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Environmental Studies|
|✅ Wordcount: 1645 words||✅ Published: 8th Feb 2020|
Are renewable energies the best option to dealwith the issue of the massive fossil fuels usage?
The more a society evolves, more energy it consumes. In the last five decades, situations such as the excessive use of fossil fuels, the weakening of the ozone layer, and deforestation, have caused an increase in the Earth’s temperature, generating great changes in the global climate. Society should start using more favorable energy sources. This essay will compare two types of renewable energies, solar and wind energy, which are endless and eco-friendly. Topics such as investment, efficiency, and location will be discussed. Additionally, some projects and research carried out throughout the world will be presented as solutions to this issue.
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Non-renewable energy is seemingly the most used today. When utilised sources such as coal, oil and natural gas are burned, carbon dioxide is released into the environment. CO2 is a useful gas that keeps the temperature on the planet in a condition called greenhouse effect based on balanced coal levels, favoring the normal evolution of life (Morse, 2013, par.2),. However, with widespread industrialisation, these levels have reached unsuspected limits, endangering the whole world, due mainly to excessive emissions. Alternatively, communities nowadays funded on the desire for economic growth and environmental sustainability, need to adopt new methods for power generation. Renewable energy is a valuable concept and can be defined as those energies generated from infinite sources. It can come from nature, sun and wind for example. It has many benefits such as reduced carbon emissions, secure energy supply, thus economic stability can be achieved , and environmental and human damage is minimized (Mason, 2016,p.1).
People can start using the wind to generate energy, because it is unlimited and clean. But, wind is not constant because weather changes everyday, therefore, other power sources plants could be needed. There are two types of turbines, with vertical or horizontal axes. Verticals are used for residential supply, they are only five meters high, the commercial value is very affordable for homeowners, and they are easy to maintain. Horizontals are eighty-meter towers, with upper blades capturing the wind. Although the initial investment could still be expensive, long-term wind energy is feasible. An efficiency example is Samso, Denmark where 100% of electricity is generated for residents. “In 2015 this country broke its own world record by producing more than 40% of its national power from wind energy” (Mason, 2016, par.12).
In the United States, large wind-farms tend to be located in agricultural areas. A lease could be paid to landowners for use of their land, but they could still work on their agricultural farms. Furthermore, some scientists suggest that wind turbines could even improve the flow of CO2 to surrounding crops (Morse, Turgeon, 2012, par.5). An example of a large onshore wind farm is in Jaisalmer, India. In April 2012, it produced 1064 megawatts of electricity (Morse , Turgeon , 2012, par.4). Even if the placement has been well studied, people complain that turbines are very loud and unsightly in the landscape. An optimal installation would be on large expansive plains or in the sea, far from the cities, however, the location on sea represent a risk for ships during violent storms. Moreover, this would imply an investment to transport energy from the generation site to the places of consumption. Nevertheless, in wind energy is very popular, and many facilities are extended into the sea. Walney Wind is the largest offshore wind-farm in the world, with 102 turbines in the Irish Sea, generating 367 megawatts of energy(Morse & Turgeon, 2012, par.5).
On the other hand, the sun is one of the best-known sources of renewable energy, it is also free. Stated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “More energy from the sun falls on the earth in an hour than is used by everyone in the world in a year” (Shinn, 2018, par.6). Solar energy does not produce pollution in the air or greenhouse gases. It can be used for domestic uses such as heating the water directly, for crops, and as a source of light. Even though their efficiency depends on climate and power decreases during the cloudiest days, solar energy systems are free of noise, can continue working at all times, and they are easy to maintain. In addition, for residential uses connected to the network, the excess of energy generated can be added back to the grid, and receive payment from power companies. According to Dr. Jennifer Baxter of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers , for industrial purposes, this excess could be used to generate hydrogen, which is obtained using electricity to divide the water. This hydrogen will function as an energy storage, consequently, the balance between the electric supply and demand could be achieved. This hydrogen could also be used to recharge electric cars (Vaughan, 2018, par.4).
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Special siting should be considered to achieve good performance and also be advantageous. The Sahara research is an example of this situation. This project proved that installing large-scale wind and solar power could green the desert, improving agriculture, vegetation, and as a consequence increase livestock members, which would be very auspicious for people who live in the area; stated by Dr. Safa Motesharrei (McGrath, 2018, par.3). For the excess of generated energy, there are storage batteries to avoid waste, but they are still expensive. Nonetheless, with constantly updated technology, there will always be an improvement in these appliances. Stanford researchers, for instance, manufactured a water-based battery; the manganese-hydrogen prototype, which is small, cheap, could be charged up to 10,000 times, and last more than ten years (Abate, 2018).
Concluding, renewable energies can be implemented often only with a great investment at the beginning. However, this can be recovered as time progresses, and with minimal maintenance costs. Both solar and wind energy can be used residentially, even with an economic benefit. Moreover, the positive consequences, such as the reduction of air pollution and climate change generate a more purified environment that benefits all living beings. Therefore, our priority as a society is to keep trying to promote the use of renewable energies all over the world.
- Abate T., (May 01, 2018). Researchers build a water-based battery to store solar and wind energy. Stanford Engineering Magazine. Retrieved from: https://engineering.stanford.edu/magazine/article/researchers-build-water-based-battery-store-solar-and-wind-energy
Mason M., (February, 2016). Renewable Energy: All you need to know. Retrieved from: https://www.environmentalscience.org/renewable-energy
- McGrath M., (September 07, 2018). Large-scale wind and solar power “Could green the Sahara”. BBC News. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45435593
Morse E., (February 21, 2013). Non-renewable energy. Encyclopedia.Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/non-renewable-energy/
- Morse E., Turgeon A., (November 16, 2012). Wind Energy. Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/wind-energy/
Shinn L., (June 15, 2018). Renewable Energy: The Clean Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/renewable-energy-clean-facts
- U.S. Department of Energy, (September 09, 2017).Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/advantages-and-challenges-wind-energy
- Vaughan A., (May 09, 2018). Use excess wind and solar power to produce hydrogen.The Guardian News. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/09/use-excess-wind-and-solar-power-to-produce-hydrogen-report
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