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Alternative Energy Sources Essay

2279 words - 10 pages

Alternative Energy Sources

Many people believe that we must depend on fossil fuels for energy, where as the reality of it is the earth provides an abundance of renewable energy sources. These energy sources can produce enough energy that we would never have to use fossil fuels again. Alternative energy is the use of other energy sources instead of the use of fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Solar power can be used to operate cars and provide electricity to homes and businesses. Hydropower can be used to provide electric power to small towns and cities. Geothermal power can heat up buildings or water to power turbines to make energy. Wind power can be used to pump water and ...view middle of the document...

Although this varies depending on the technology and climate used, the energy balance is generally favorable to the solar power plants in ways where they are cost effective, and it is improving with each generation of technology. Materials used in some solar power plants can create health and safety hazards for workers and anyone else coming into contact with them. In particular, manufacturing of PV cells often requires hazardous materials such as arsenic and cadmium. Even relatively insert silicon, a major material used in solar cells, can be hazardous to workers if it is breathed in as dust. Workers involved in manufacturing PV modules and components must consequently be protected from exposure to these materials. There is an additional very small danger that fumes released from these PV modules attached to burning homes or buildings could injure fire fighters. None of these hazards is much different then the hazards people face in the industrial society we have today. Through effective regulation, the dangers can very likely be kept at a very low level. The large amount of land required for utility-scale power plants- about 1 square kilometer for every 20-60 megawatts generated-poses an additional problem, especially where wildlife protection is a concern, but this problem is not unique to solar power plants. Generating electricity from coal actually requires much more land per unit of energy delivered if the land used in strip mining is taken into account. Large central power plants are not the only option for generating solar power; in fact they are the least promising. Because sunlight is dispersed, small-scale technology is a much better match to the resource. It can take advantage of unused space on the roofs of homes and buildings and in industrial lots. And, in solar building designs, the structure itself acts as a collector, so there is no need for any additional space at all. (Power Solutions) So all in all solar power has vase potential that can be used to produce electricity and if combined with the next energy source it would be great for society and the earth.
Next, geothermal power is heat contained below the earth’s surface that can be used directly as hot water or steam, or can be used to produce electricity. Geothermal energy is contained in underground reservoirs, hot dry rocks, and hot spots. Geothermal hot spots have volcanic features and are found all over the world. Basically they are areas of reduced thickness in the earth’s mantle, which transmits excess heat from the core to the outer crust of the earth. Hot spots are well known for their unique effects on the surface of the earth, such as the volcanic islands of Hawaii, the mineral deposits and geysers in Yellowstone National Park, or the hot springs in Iceland just to name a few. These geothermal hot spots can easily be used to generate electricity. (Alternative Energy Sources) The only type of geothermal power that has been widely developed is hydrothermal...

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