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In the recent past, nuclear energy sources have proofed dangerous to the environment due to the poisonous emissions they produce. Fossil fuels are also diminishing and their energy has become very expensive. Other sustainable sources do exist that are a bit cheaper, clean, renewable and long lasting.
Technology can be applied to make some nuclear sources safer. The only problem that exists is the level of advancement in production of these sources although some countries such as the US and Germany have successfully invented in these sources. If these sources are embraced in all countries, in combination they can be able to produce more than enough energy that is capable of meeting the demand.
These sources are safe and regardless of their technological advancement, they can be opted for in order to counter the inflation in the energy sector and save the environment from pollution. This is important as all irrespective of their financial status will be able to afford energy for various uses such as domestic and industrial needs.
A sustainable energy can be defined as energy that can be harnessed and used in a manner that ensures a sustainable development for a long period of time. It concerns how the available resources can be utilized without strain due to the number of people demanding for its use. Here sustainability looks at the three pillars of development that is social, economic and environmental (Kruger 2006).
Over the past, energy from nuclear emitters has been in use and it has been believed to be a safe form of energy, though in the recent, it has proved otherwise especially in matters concerning environmental pollution. The cost of fuel and energy has also gone very high. Therefore, there is a need for formulation of new policies that will encourage energy delivery in a more efficient and safer manner thus leading to an equitable, economic viable and environmental sound globe.
According to a research report on a sustainable global renewable energy system, it is possible to achieve renewable energy sources at a global level by 2050; these sources will put in mind the level of poverty in the developing world, available resources, population growth, climate change and the energy demand in various sectors such as transport, industries, buildings and services.
Energy is used in three major forms; fuel, heat and electricity. To achieve this sustainability in energy production, renewable sources such as solar, biogas, wind, hydropower, geothermal, waves and tides should be considered (Kruger 2006). Implementation and success of such sources of energy in various countries proves that options safer than nuclear energy exist and can be successfully implemented at their current level of development.
In this source of energy, two types are put into consideration, active and passive. In active, photovoltaic panels (PV) are used to convert sunlight into useful energy where as in passive, useful sun rays such as sunlight are trapped. In active type, the panels have cells that are composed of semiconductor materials such as silicon.
In its development, important to consider is the availability of space in which to erect the panels (Dawson, Spannagle 2009). The amount of energy produced depends on the amount sunlight heating the panels thus the angle of sun’s incidence and the duration in hours of sunlight availability is also vital. It is a cost effective system in that no raw material is required neither is a station necessary for its operation.
Maintenance is not required at a large scale and this makes it less expensive thus achievable also in the developing world. Solar energy is also inexhaustible as long as the sun is available. Apart from the disadvantaged countries where by the sun is affected by snow, hailstone and thick cloud cover and especially those at the poles, this energy are viable in many of the globe’s countries. The only extra cost that is incurred in harnessing this type of energy is the purchasing of storage facilities such as batteries and fuel cells.
Environmentally, there is no form of pollution experienced with this kind of energy or any hazardous material produced apart maybe from residues emanating from the manufacture of the semiconductors used. No noise is produced, meaning that these plants can be placed near residential places and other environments where no noise is permitted such as learning institutions and hospitals.
Apart from electricity, solar energy can be used to create fuel for example, by use of this energy to burn hydrogen and heat up biomass fuel. Generally, solar energy can be used for various uses ranging from domestic hot water (DWH) to industrial process heat (IPH), meaning that it can be able to cater for the current world energy needs (Dawson, Spannagle 2009).
Most of the developing countries are near the equator and they can therefore be in a position to harness as much as the solar energy as possible. An example of country that has embraced solar energy is South Africa where a group known as solar energy international (SEI) advocates for use of this form of energy to ensure sustainability, poverty eradication and to embrace globalization.
The group mobilizes development organization and other stakeholders by offering training and education on the use of the technologies involved. PV systems worth millions of dollars have been implemented in Indonesia and Philippines. Kenya is also mentioned among these countries. Although the initial cost for such projects is high, they become economical in their operational phases thus making it a viable source of energy even in the developing countries in the world.
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Wind is usually in the form of kinetic energy and through the use of turbines, is is possible to converse it into electric energy. Usually, these turbines are placed on a higher ground where the winds blow at a higher speed. Just like solar energy, wind power requires a large piece of land for the installations of the turbines (Kruger 2006).
There are no hazardous products or dangerous emissions by these turbines compared to nuclear sources. The aesthetic value of the places of installation is affected but this effect is harmless to the surrounding. No raw material is required and this makes it a cost effective project to handle especially with the developing countries and the rising costs of other available sources of energy.
Germany has heavily invested in this type of energy with 17,574 installations in 2005 which generated 4.3per cent of the energy required. If f more emphasis is put on this, it is a viable source of energy in the current world. Besides its advantages, it is clear that it has some obvious demerits such as noise pollution produced by the rotating turbines. Therefore, it is not appropriate to install such stations near noise sensitive environments.
Also, the wind is not available at all the times but this does not nullify its effectiveness because these turbines can be concentrated in regions such as off shores where there is a lot of wind that moves at a higher speed (Wengenmayr Bührke 2008). Canada has also invested in wind power with 97% of its energy production coming from wind in 2005.Several installations have been put in place both by the government and individuals.
In Canada a business turbine can produce up to 1,800 kW at a cost of between 2000-2750 Canadian dollars (Bernstein 2008).Though this source of energy is environmentally and economically sustainable, it has not been embraced by many nations, but with its success in some countries such as the above mentioned, it will be advisable for nations to consider this type of energy.
The main source of energy here is flowing water. It can be regarded as a source of free electricity though the cost is incurred in the harnessing and transmitting. Its harnessing involves either impoundment or diversion of some water from a flowing river, although dam construction is the most common method used.
Apart from distraction of the ecosystems such as migration of fish, this method is advantageous compared to the use of fossil fuels because the cost of operation is low and there no known forms of pollution experienced. To avoid much distraction to the fish ecosystem, propellers that are less harmful in turning the turbines can be used and ladders used to encourage fish movement upwards and downwards a river.
Large dams are not necessarily required as a micro one can produce enough electricity for a home or a farm, and this makes it affordable by a majority more so in the developing world (Green energy 2011). Although dam sites are determined by the available rivers and other uses such as recreational, industrial, settlement and other functions, the much that is produced combined with others can be enough for use.
Countries with big rivers are advantaged because the energy harnessed can be used for industrial purposes. The created dams act as resoviours and create home for both terrestrial and aquatic life, controls rate of floods downstream of a river and at times can act as a tourist attraction center generating foreign exchange to that country.
Hydro electricity can therefore be termed as a sustainable form of energy socially, economically and environmentally. It is used in most of the developed countries such as the United States of America where most of industries are located near water bodies in order to use the energy generated from this waters. Some good examples in the United States include Colorado River and Tennessee Valley.
Other countries include Kenya, Canada, Germany and others. Though this form of energy can be affected by climatic changes which has affected the amount of water in the rivers, it is a safe and cleaner form of energy which can be produced for a long period of time (Green energy 2011).
Nuclear energy production can be safe when especially the right technology is used; however, the wastes produced are what proofs troublesome. Nuclear fission occurs naturally and much can be gained by utilizing the natural process. If engineers can learn from their previous mistakes, then the improved design in power plant reactors can lead to a secure source of energy that is both environmental friendly and sustainable.
One of the technologies is Uranium reprocessing where by just like in a fuel refinery, coal and biomass are used for the production of electric power, liquid fuels and chemicals such as ammonia, a network of pipes is fed with hydrogen and carbon monoxide to produce fuel and other chemicals through various processes. The synthesis gas produced is used to burn coal and biomass in order to produce energy and chemicals.
This is a process that is cheap in the sense that there are no extra costs for transportation, no need for a gasolification facility and the gas produced is more or less the same as a natural gas. Because of its ease production, both large and small scale processes can employ this technology for energy production. Chemicals produced like ammonia are used as fertilizers. Such technologies have been successful in the US and they have several advantages as compared to coal and petroleum (Suppes Storvic 2007).
There are also other sources that can produce energy in a sustainable manner; such include the geothermal power where heat is harnessed fro underground through maybe a fluid allowed to flow through the porous rocks which produces heat. This heat is eventually tapped through a turbine and used for electricity generation, in this technology, other forms of gases that are harmful to the environment can escape into the air thus causing pollution, this include, nitric oxide, sulphur and carbon dioxide.
Energy can also be harnessed from the ocean, which is the use of tides and waves. In tides, water energy is used to drive water in and out of a dam thus driving an electrical turbine while the wave’s oscillations can be used to generate hydraulic pressure for driving motors which in turn can be used to produce electricity.
These sources are environmentally friendly because there are no emissions involved although they cannot be used in most parts of the world since not all of them have oceans or are close to one and in any case the available ones cannot be enough to produce enough energy to meet the demand.
A number of sources for sustainable energy exist, but they have not been fully embraced. Though with the rising costs of fuel and the need to combat the effects rendered by the emissions produced during fossil fuel burning, there is an urgent need to consider all these alternatives in order to meet the energy demand in a more sustainable, effective, sufficient and environmental friendly manner. If all these forms of renewable energy sources are put in place, then it is possible to meet the energy demand at a global level.
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