Renewable vs. Coal or Nuclear-Generated Energy

Subject: Environment
Pages: 4
Words: 1088
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Master

Introduction

The paper discusses the importance of using renewable energy rather than using the conventional methods of power generation. Currently the amount of energy used on average by the house holds constitutes to a very big amount of green house gas emissions. The use of renewable energy can greatly reduce these emissions thus creating a better environment for the humans and the universe at large (Australian Greenhouse Office, 2005). This paper will focus on the viability of renewable energy and how it is being used in some countries such as Brazil. The use of hydroelectricity is more efficient since it does not use hydrocarbons such as oil to generate electricity, this will be discussed in details later in the paper. This paper will justify the use of renewable energy as a better option of producing electricity rather than using coal or nuclear generated electricity.

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Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the energy that is generated from natural resources for example rain, geothermal heat, sun, wind and tides. Such energy is very friendly to the environment since no green house gases are emitted through the process of power generation and if there are any the gases they are very minimal. Furthermore, the utilization of natural resources is very cost effective since the resources are readily available. Renewable energy is sourced from natural resources which are replenished from time to time. The use of renewable energy as a source of electricity and power replaces the use of conventional fuels.

There are various forms of renewable energy such as wind power, which uses air-flow to run turbines which then produce electricity. The power produced by the wind turbine is dependent on the speed on the wind. Wind power generation stations are more suitable in places where there is high altitude and constant winds for better production. The other form of renewable energy is solar energy. It is derived from solar radiations. This type of power generation is normally reliant on heat engines and photovoltaics; while hydropower is power generated from a flowing mass of water i.e. water is used to turn very big turbines which then produce electricity. Power generated through water flow is preferred because even a slow flowing river or stream can produce substantial amounts of electricity compared to wind where the turbines require high speeds of wind to turn and finally, geothermal power is the power produced by tapping steam from the ground and then using the steam and heat to turn power turbines. Although this type of energy production is expensive many countries are now embracing it, since it is environmental friendly.

Viability of renewable energy

Renewable energy is a noble way of generating electricity. The current changes in the environment have caused by the amounts of green house gases that have been emitted in the recent years. The hurricanes and sporadic draughts and floods that have occurred globally have been caused by the sudden and negative environmental changes and global warming. These effects of global warming can be reduced if the countries globally start rehabilitating the world by using alternative energy and that is the use of renewable energy (Macedo et al, 2004).

For example in Brazil, people use ethanol which is made from sugarcane to power their vehicles; this is a tremendous achievement in the positive direction. The use of sugar cane ethanol greatly reduces the reliability on fossil fuels to power vehicles and other machines (Williams et al, 2006). Citizens of Brazil term the use of ethanol as cost effective compared to other fuels, thus making renewable energy a better way of generating energy rather than the use of coal or fossil fuels which are hazardous to the environment. Although ethanol is a better form of energy production it has its demerits such as causing soil erosions and reacting with oxygen to form nitrous oxide. These demerits have made many critics in Brazil to demonize it but in a broader view it is better compared to coal. The use of such forms of renewable energy makes electricity generation to be environmental friendly, therefore renewable energy is very viable in respect to the environment (Sovacool, 2010).

Technology has played a big role in boosting the use of renewable energy. With new technologies which are emerging, the use of renewable energy has been made more extensive and efficient thus making it more preferable to the people around the globe. Technology has seen the advancement of geothermal power since it is no longer dependent on hydrothermal resources. This process has been enabled by the use of hydraulic stimulation which is one of the recent technologies. The introduction of new technology in power generation has increased the viability of renewable energy.

The use of some of the types of renewable energies is hampered by the cost implications. Geothermal energy generation requires highly skilled manpower and technology thus making it very difficult for some countries to embrace it even though it is important. Such hindrances have made many countries to use the conventional power generating methods which impact negatively to the environment and the universe at large. Finally to reduce the bills and ensure a healthy environment one is supposed to use electricity efficiently and effectively.

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The use of nuclear energy as a way of producing electricity is very risky to human beings and also to the environment. This is because the power stations emit harmful radiations which may cause diseases such as cancer to the user. Furthermore when the nuclear rods have reacted they can no longer be used again for fuel production (Sovacool, 2010). Nuclear plants require very large quantities of water to cool down the machines and equipments because the process generates high amounts of thermal heat, these leads to water wastage hence making the use of renewable energy a far better alternative. These disadvantages make the use of renewable energy more viable compared to nuclear energy. Nuclear energy production emits no or minimal amounts of carbon dioxide but the other processes of generating nuclear power require fossil fuels.

Conclusion

In conclusion, many companies that produce diesel and petrol have engaged in research activities so as to come up with better methods of purifying fossil fuels but with no success. A company such as Fischer-Tropsch produces very fine diesel but there are still impurities which are not thoroughly cleaned hence making the fuel undesirable to the environment (Macedo et al, 2004). But none of these efforts solves the problem of carbon dioxide thus making renewable energy such as biomass as the only environmental friendly form of energy.

References

Australian Greenhouse Office, (2005) National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Australia.

Macedo, I. et al. (2004) Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Production and Use of Fuel Ethanol in Brazil: prepared for the Government of the State of São Paulo. São Paulo.

Sovacool, B. K. (2010) A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, p. 393.

Williams, R. H. et al. (2006) 8th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies: Trondheim, Norway.