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8.04 Energy and Society

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Summer Turner

on 14 January 2013

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Transcript of 8.04 Energy and Society

Air pollution is a major cause of environmental degradation, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide leading to increased global warming. Sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides are released into the atmosphere causing acid rain and lung problems in humans and animals. Smaller amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead are also created and these heavy metals have very serious health implications for all living organisms. Waste is also a big impact because it can easily enter the water supply of the surrounding area. Environmental Impact & Hazards The main concern is the land that is taken from animals when solar panels are placed in an area, especially wildlife protection areas. One solar panel producer in China was found to be lessening costs by dumping toxic chemicals on nearby farmland. The dirt was analyzed and found to have high concentrations of many harsh chemicals. Materials used in some solar systems can create health and safety hazards for workers and anyone else coming into contact with them. The manufacturing of photovoltaic cells often requires hazardous materials such as arsenic and cadmium. There is also hazardous fumes released from photovoltaic modules attached to burning homes or buildings that could injure fire fighters. Environmental Impact & Hazards The expenses in beginning to use solar power panels is huge. It is an investment or around ten thousand dollars that takes a while until the panels begin to create "free" energy. After five to seven years the average homeowner begins to earn savings from the alternative electricity source. The average loan begins at around eighty five dollars a month until the equipment is entirely leased out. It also depends on if the equipment is has higher efficiency or not. Expenses Resource Solar power cells convert sunlight into electricity, using the energy of speeding photons to create an electrical current within a solar panel. Photons are created in the center of the sun by the fusion of atoms. It takes a photon about a million years to work its way to the surface of the sun, but once free it is hurled through space so fast that it reaches earth in just eight minutes after traveling 93 million miles. The tremendous energy from the sun is abundant and has been harnessed to create an alternative form of energy that largely power our civilization today. 8.04 Energy and Society By: Summer Turner Coal Solar Power Nonrenewable Renewable Resource Steam coal, also known as thermal coal, is used to generate electricity. The coal is milled to a fine powder, which increases the surface area and allows it to burn more quickly. Then the hot gases and heat energy produced converts water into steam which is passed into a turbine containing thousands of propeller-like blades causing the turbine shaft to rotate at high speed. A generator is mounted at one end of the turbine shaft and consists of carefully wound wire coils to generate electricity when they are rapidly rotated in a strong magnetic field. The electricity generated is then transformed into higher voltages (up to 400,000 volts) used for economic, efficient transmission through power line grids. When it nears the point of consumption, such as our homes, the electricity is transformed to the safer voltage (100-250) systems used in the domestic market. Transportation Coal accounts for 40% of all electricity worldwide. Sixty four percent of the coal delivered to U.S. consumers is transported by railroads and trucks transport twelve percent. In the early 1980s railroad transportation was beneficial but recently railroads have been raising base transportation rates and implementing fuel surcharge programs. The projection of AEO2007 reference case shows that coal will remain the primary fuel for electricity generation through 2030. The Rocky Mountain, Central West, and East North Central regions are projected to show the largest increases in coal demand, by about 100 million tons each. Conclusion Both energy sources are efficient in creating electricity but have there own costs and externalities. Coal is the highest used a forty percent while solar power is a lot lower. Solar power costs in production more that a coal plant. Overall between these two choices coal is the better resource because coal is well understood, whereas those associated with wind and solar are new, unknown, and multiple. The negatives that come with using coal have been researched to find better routes with less hazards. I think a better resource out of both these can be found to help both people and the planet.
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