Ever since Edison and Tesla made electricity commercialized, mankind have been dependent on its almost unlimited power. But can it run out? Which is better, renewable or nonrenewable? And, well, you might be surprised by the outcome.
Electricity, the cornerstone of technology, without it we wouldn’t be able to have most of our daily comforts or run our most vital machines. Unlike water or food waste, electricity cannot reenter the environment after it has been used, leaving the question can it run out.
Well the answer is no, since electricity is energy which cannot be broken or destroyed, that’s is just not gonna happen. But the process of generating electricity can stop on a large scale. For the most part, the way we create electricity from generators is from magnetic induction, which is when you excite electrons by moving them between the opposite poles of a magnet. However, to start this process, we need turbines to start this process and start the power generation. And what fuels the turbines? Mainly finite resources such as fossil fuels and natural gases (nonrenewable). While other turbines depend on wind, solar power, geothermal, or falling water (renewable).
We all know that going green and using renewable energy is great in the long run, but renewable energies still have downsides to them.
Wind Energy, one of the cleanest ways to harvest energy. They don’t require any fueling, just the wind to turn it’s turbine. But for wind turbines to fully function properly there is one thing needed, land. Since wind turbines work better with larger fans, it requires more and more space.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “they use between 30 and 141 acres permegawatt of power output capacity (a typical new utility-scale wind turbine is about 2 megawatts). However, less than 1 acre per megawatt is disturbed permanently and less than 3.5 acres per megawatt are disturbed temporarily during construction”.
Compared to coal’s 12 acres per megawatt, wind requires a lot more space. Now wind farms are moving to the shores, but again these require a lot of space and can affect fishing, aquaculture, and recitation activities. They also affect ship’s navigation causing them to divert their courses. Overall, wind turbines require a lot of space to work, and some think of them a ‘sight pollution’, but that might be the price we pay for clean energy.
Unlike wind turbines, solar power plants require less space to operate, creating 3.5 to 16.5 acers per megawatt depending on the type of solar system used. However, unlike wind, you cannot use the land underneath it productively.
For the most part, solar facilities requires a lot of water to cool the panels. Usually cooling towers use between 600 to 650 gallons of water for every megawatt-hour. And since many ideal areas for solar plants are in dry climates, water usage becomes increasingly more important. There are some dry-cooling (not using water) methods, but these are less efficient and redly work at temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
PV solar cells, which are commonly used for homes or commercial buildings, are manufactured using hazardous materials. These materials are used to make the semiconducting face which captures the energy from the sun. The chemicals used can pose dangers to the health of the environment and to the people making the solar cells. However, many manufactures recycle these materials, so the usage of the materials are cutdown.
I firmly believe that we need to do what we can to help save the planet we live on. If we keep treating the way it, sooner or later it will fight back. And the idea that since renewable energies are coming out doesn’t necessary mean all is saved. As I’ve showed above, a lot of these technologies can cause other problems within the environment. It takes commitment to solve this global problem, not technology. Even some of the most promising energy harvesting methods have drawbacks, it is just our job as a nation to determine whether or not we can make things more efficient, both socially and environmentally, or to live with the best we got, and from looking at all of the methods in place now, we can do better.