Essay on fossil fuels

7 July 2016

Throughout history it is a known fact that humans depend on energy to satisfy basic needs. In order to meet these needs humans have gone to the extent of putting the environment at risk. Air pollution is currently one of the five leading causes of death worldwide and the usage of fossil fuels is a major factor contributing to this. (Future talk: clean renewable energy September 2013). Fossil fuels are finite sources of energy; while the demand for energy will continue to increase, there will still be a decrease in amount of fossil fuels available, which means humans will need to find other sources of energy.

There are numerous sources of alternative energy; however the safest, cleanest and reliable source is the renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy, if expanded and explored, have great potential to replace fossil fuels. This essay will evaluate the different types of renewable energy resources in terms of its ability to replace fossil fuel without lowering the quantity or quality of energy produced. Wind energy is one source of renewable energy that may have a chance of replacing fossil fuels.

Essay on fossil fuels Essay Example

Wind energy is plainly the exploitation of the kinetic energy in the wind to produce electricity. Over time, the power capacity of wind has evolved as humans through research have found new and better ways to harness its energy and turn it into energy Figure 1 shows the time evolution of the global wind power capacity over the years along with a prediction for the future years. The principle behind harnessing wind energy is that when the force of the wind is passed through turbines, the movements of these turbines converts energy into electricity.

The most commercial method of harnessing wind energy is though “wind farms” where hundreds of wind turbines (windmills) are spread over large plots of land. In comparison to fossil fuels, wind energy is better in a number of ways. It is more plentiful, widely distributed and also renewable which means there will never be a worry of it running out. Wind energy is also cleaner in terms of its affect on the environment. In comparison to fossil fuels wind energy releases no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. Also, in comparison to other sources of renewable energy, wind energy uses comparatively less land to operate.

The overall cost per unit of energy produced is similar to the cost for new coal and natural gas installations. (Top 5 alternative power sources to replace fossil fuels, September 25th 2013). However, the problem with this source of energy is that the installing of turbines are not generally welcomed as it destroys the natural view and also generates a lot of noise pollution. Another more widely used sources of renewable sources of energy include solar power. Solar power is one of the most widely used sources of energy in place of fossil fuels.

Solar power in simple words is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. A more large-scale method of harnessing energy is by using the concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. CSP technologies focus’s the suns rays on mirrors which then reflects the sun rays to one central boiler where the liquid within in the boiler is heated and used to boil water. The steam produced is then used to drive a turbine and generate electricity. Critics of solar energy claim that solar power cannot be depended on as it is extremely intermittent.

In other words the nature of solar energy cannot be depended on as it can easily change from time to time. However, improvements in technology and constant research have made solar power just as regular and accessible as fossil fuels. Different CSP systems use different liquids, but one common characteristic is that these liquids are usually able to attain the heat and remain warm for a long period of time (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2013). This way electricity can be produced during periods of peak need, on cloudy days or even after sunset.

Another major issue very commonly brought up against the feasibility of solar energy is that it is expensive to install the equipment needed for CPS or the solar panels. However, what is very commonly overlooked is the cost of using fossil fuels. The extraction, mining and transportation of fossil fuels is already costly and as the years go by, and the depletion of fossil fuel will cause the prices off fossil fuels even more. On the other hand, when using solar power, the money only goes into the capital needed to install the equipment needed.

Unlike fossil fuel, this is a one-time payment, which means overall the cost of using solar power is less than that of using fossil fuels (Future talk: clean renewable energy September 2013). Apart from wind energy and solar energy, another commonly used source of renewable energy is hydroelectricity. Basically, hydroelectricity is the power that is derived from the energy of falling water (Top 5 alternative power sources to replace fossil fuels, September 25th 2013). The forces within the currents are passed through turbines, which generates electricity.

Water is 800 times denser than air therefore even the slowest flowing stream of water can yield quite a considerable amount of energy enough to compete with that of fossil fuels. Of the various means to produce hydroelectricity, the more widely used method used to harness hydroelectricity is through dams. The water in these flows through turbines, the energy force within this body of water causes the turbines to turn. The turbines are connected to generators. When the turbines turn, they make the generators move. The generators are the machines that produce electricity.

There are many cases where dams have been implemented and are extremely successful; one famous case is the Bonneville Dam, which is one of the many dams in Columbia. It has 20 turbines and generates more than a million watts of power yearly, which is enough to power hundreds and thousands of homes and businesses. The largest power plant in the world is the Three gorges Dam. It has 26 turbines and generates a billion watts of power a year generating enough energy for the homes and businesses in the town of Sandouping located in Yiling District.

This dam is a source of power for over 35,00 citizens in Sandouping. Hydroelectricity actually has a real chance of replacing fossil fuels, as it has been proven there are successful cases around the world where hydroelectricity is being used. The most major advantage is that hydroelectricity relies on water, which is a clean and renewable energy source. It has not chance of running out. Water is renewable because of the existence of the water cycle, water evaporates forms cloud and then rain downs on earth starting the cycle again.

It is a fact that in the United States, hydroelectricity generates approximately 9% of the total energy supply. The facilities currently available in the U. S can generate enough hydropower to produce electricity enough to power 28 million households, which is equivalent to 500 barrels of oil. Renewable energy sources do stand a real chance of replacing fossil fuels if we can overcome the major obstacles in place. The first major obstacle is the intermittent nature of these resources. However although they are intermittent they also compliment each other, which means more than one source can be implemented at a time.

What these resources have to be able to do is match the human’s power demand and by combining two sources of energy this can be achieved. The second major factor preventing the shift from using fossil fuels to using renewable sources of energy is the price factor. Although it may look like the price of using renewable source of energy is higher, this is actually not the case. The price of fossil fuels is actually higher due to the need to extract and transport it all the time, wherelse for renewable energy sources the capital will only go into installing the necessary equipment’s.

To summarize my essay fossil fuels are a depleting source of energy that is polluting earth and will soon run out. We need to replace this source before it causes permanent damage. Renewable sources of energy, through research and improvements in technology have become much more dependable and has a real chance of replacing fossil fuels. It is overall cleaner and abundant in nature, along with that as a whole it is also relatively cheaper in comparison to fossil fuels.

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