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Transcript of Science project
How Solar Panels and Biomass Energy Benefit the Environment and How we can Use Them in our City
Biomass is organic renewable energy created by burning dead things and waste to create steam which spins turbines and makes electricity.
One pro for using this type of energy is that energy generated by biomass is inexpensive compared to coal and oil.
Typically biomass costs about 2/3 as much as fossil fuels doing the same job.
This means you can spend 2/3 as much every year on on electricity, and after 10 or 15 years that adds up to a considerable saving.
There is already a biomass power plant in Alexandria, the Covanta Power Plant. that burns waste to produce electricity.
This power plant produces lots of electricity, but we still use more coal than we use renewable resources, and the Covanta Power Plant is smaller than other power plants run by the same company in other states.
If everybody in Alexandria donates $0.01 to Covanta per month, Covanta would have $5,555.28 per year to help them do more research into cleaner energy and expand their power plant.
This isn't very much money at all, but over time it would add up and could really help the company to produce more clean energy for our city.
Why we did not use Hydroelectric Dams or Green Roofs and Instead chose Biomass and Solar Power
Energy in Alexandria, VA
The average Household in Alexandria, VA, uses about 1,200 kWh per month. Most of this energy is generated by burning fossil fuels, like coal. With over 146,294 people living in Alexandria, we burn lots of coal. Burning coal is bad because it causes pollution and uses up nonrenewable resources. In addition to being bad for the environment, getting energy from a coal power plant can be expensive. An average citizen of Alexandria pays $130 monthly to energy providers. The cost of investing in clean energy is large, but solar panels can help you pay less to energy providers and investing in improving our biomass energy could reduce pollution. Alexandria has a $624.8 million dollar budget and it would cost over $2.5 billion to put solar panels on everybody in Alexandria's home. Therefore, it would not be practical for the city to just go around handing out solar panels to whoever wants them. Panels should be purchased by the people that are going to use them, not be provided by the city. Any money donated to support Alexandria's biomass should also be either payed directly by the citizens or be a tax payed to the city that Alexandria then uses to fund biomass research and power plant expansion. If we want clean energy it should be purchased by us because the city doesn't have enough money to throw around to afford clean energy for everybody.
Solar panels are a source of clean, inexhaustible energy. They collect energy from the sun to convert it into electricity.
Solar panels cost
approximately $35,000 to purchase, mount, and maintain, but prices do vary.
Even though solar panels are expensive, there are great rewards for purchasing them.
The average Virginian pays $130 per month to an energy company for electricity.
You don't have to pay this if you go solar, so you could save $1,560 per year.
You also can get up to $3,000 per year for selling electricity back to the grid.
That means that each year if it weren't for the cost of solar panels you could have $4,560 more than if you continued to purchase electricity.
If you used this extra $4,560 to purchase the solar panels and payed all of it to the solar panel provider annually, your panels would be payed for in about eight years. Also, the cost of solar panels is decreasing, as shown by the graphs in our graphs slide that you will see later.
fter eight years, your solar panels will start to make you money if you continue to sell power back to the grid. A solar panel can last as long as 25 years, so your solar panels could save and earn you about $43,132 by the end of their life span.
We chose to find ways to use solar power and biomass because they are efficient and work in an environmentally friendly way. We considered researching hydroelectric dams and green roofs, but green roofs only save energy and don't produce it, and hydroelectric dams cost too much money for them to be practical.
They would also effect the Potomac River by damaging habitats for the animals that live there and not be vey efficient.
This is because for a dam to be efficient it has to have fast moving water, which would usually be caused by water coming from a high altitude down steep terrain.
Unfortunately, our section of the Potomac River is relatively flat and not extremely fast.
Because of the nature of hydroelectric dams, the water that flows through them often takes on a higher temperature, loses oxygen content, experiences siltation, and gains in phosphorus and nitrogen content.
Therefore, hydroelectric dams are not worth the high price.
By Leah Nickelsburg, Thomas Haymes, and Luke Heilman
Charts and Graphs