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SOURCES OF ENERGY

METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY

This writing will investigate several sources of energy and the pros and cons of each.

Fossil Fuels- These include oil, natural gas and coal.

Pros- Can provide an enormous amount of energy per unit harvested. Much of developed world has the infrastructure in place to harvest and use these fuels.

Cons- They are a non-renewable resource which means they can not be replaced once they are used. There is a limited supply of fossil fuels that can be harvested from Earth.


Nuclear Power- This is accomplished by fission which is the splitting of an atom. An element such as Uranium gives off heat when it breaks down to lighter elements. This heat can be used to warm water and heated water can turn a turbine which produces energy.

Pros- Can provide a large amount of energy per unit harvested. It could be the go to energy source once fossil fuels run out since it can supply a large amount of energy needs.

Cons- There can be waste storage issues and issues with keeping the power plant safe.


Solar Power- This involves turning energy from the sun into stored energy or heat energy. Along with biofuels, this could be the go to energy source after nuclear power once fossil fuels run out.

Pros- The energy generated is fairly clean. Many places have abundant sunlight.

Cons- It is expensive and horribly inefficient. Only a small fraction of the sunís energy is harvested and the cost of setting up the solar panel is expensive. Once costs come down and efficiency increases then look for solar energy to be a more dominate player.


Bio-Fuels- These are plant products such as plant oils, corn, algae, sugarcane that are used as fuels when energy is extracted from them. Unlike fossil fuels, they are renewable since crops can be planted every year.

Pros- They are renewable. They can reduce need for fossil fuels. They are cleaner burning as compared to fossil fuels.

Cons- Large amounts of land are needed to grow the crops for these fuels.


Wind Energy- This consists of the movement of wind turbines to produce energy.

Pros- It is a fairly clean source of energy.

Cons- The wind turbine costs are expensive. Energy is only available when wind is blowing. Large expanses of land is needed for the turbines. Amount of energy produced is relatively small compared to the building costs.

Water/Tidal- Anytime water flows downhill, that motion can be used to turn turbines. These energy generators are located along dams and regions where tidal flow causes ocean water flow that can turn turbines.

Pros- It is a fairly clean source of energy.

Cons- The locations it can be used is very limited thus this energy source can only supply a small fraction of the needed energy. Dams can promote environmental problems.


Geothermal- This is the use of underground heat to turn turbines. This energy source can be tapped near hot spots where magma rises to near the Earthís surface.

Pros- There is enormous amount of heat below Earthís surface

Cons- Only in limited locations does the heat rise up high enough to currently tap into it.


Future Fuels?.. possible future sources of fuel including hydrogen power and fusion