Nowadays, the desire to solve environmental issues is not simply a concern, it is indeed an attempt to save the planet. Scientists, various organizations and conscientious people all over the world have realized that the traditional methods to obtain energy are not efficient. Nuclear power plants represent a considerable danger to life on earth.Meanwhile, the use of gas and oil leads not only to the destruction of the ozone layer and the melting of Arctic ice but to environmental disasters. These are the reasons why many countries in the recent years are seeking alternative and renewable energy sources and the ways to make them less costly. The purpose of the paper is to study green power options and their benefits.
What is Green Power and Why Is It Necessary?
The catastrophic environmental situation on the planet makes it necessary to use renewable energy. This type of energy “includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish” (“What is Green Power?”). These are wind, sun, and other sources, the so-called green power. In a broad sense, green power is an energy solution that reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. This definition implies that such concepts as the efficient usage of fossil fuels for energy production, less carbon-intensive fuels, the introduction of new, energy-saving technologies and renewable energy development belong to the notion of green power.While the green sector of the world economy is rather small, it is characterized by high rates of development. The role of ensuring the energy security primarily belongs to the countries that have the strongest economy. Meanwhile, the prospect of the development of green energy is highly realistic and is largely connected to technological progress.
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Traditional types of energy supply people with coolants and heat, which are needed for comfortable living, but they cause great damage to the environment. For example, hydroelectric power plants negatively impact rivers, destroy the natural landscape, and make vast areas of fertile lands non-arable. Similarly, thermal power stations require large quantities of fossil fuels. Catastrophes in Fukushima and Chernobyl have demonstrated nuclear power plants are not as safe as people used to think. In addition, oil and coal are the sources that soon will finish: “the traditional energy sources are fast depleting and it will not be able to replenish them” (“Why Do We Need Green Energy?”). Therefore, the necessity to find alternative power sources is an urgent need of the humanity.
Green Power Options
There are many options of green power: geothermal, solar, wind, wave, temperature-gradient, and biomass energy. Today, all of them are used in different countries. However, some of these options are more promising than the others. For example, gradient thermal energy is not a highly viable option for the future. This method of energy extraction is based on the temperature difference.Therefore, most of the gradient-temperature power plants are located on coastlines to have access to sea water. Oceans absorb much solar energy falling on the earth. In such a way, the temperature difference between warm waters of the ocean surface and cold waters at a depth of several hundred meters is a great source of energy.Nonetheless, marine heating plants are constructed on the overfall of seawater temperatures. They add to the heating of deep water and cooling of surface water, as well as release of large amounts of carbon dioxide. These processes are not natural and can negatively affect fauna and flora, as well as general climate of the region.
Another option which cannot be considered highly viable is wave energy. Despite the fact that it has large power capacity, it has many disadvantages. Power plants of this type use energy of tides. However, tides occur only two times a day.In addition, waves cannot be controlled: “wave energy can be difficult to harness due to the unpredictability of the ocean and wave direction” (“Efficient Green Power”). In addition, tidal power plants cannot produce very high power. The most significant disadvantage consists in the fact that such plants are not environmentally safe since have a negative effect on the normal exchange of fresh and salty water. Therefore, the disadvantages of wave energy make people question the potential of this type of power.
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The most viable options of green power are solar and wind energy. These methods also have certain disadvantages but they are not as grave as those of temperature-gradient energy and wave energy. Moreover, solar energy has been used by people since ancient times. Nowadays, much attention is paid to this kind of green power, too. It is considered rather cheap and safe. However, solar energy, just as wind energy, depends on weather conditions. Thus, it is better to locate solar and wind stations in the areas with many sunny days and much wind.
Current environmental situation requires urgent modernization of energy production processes and transition to a new technological model. To protect the environment, people have to rely on green energy, which is the main focus of the energy modernization process. Nowadays, people use geothermal, solar, wind, wave, temperature-gradient, and biomass energy. The analysis of their advantages and disadvantages shows that wave energy and gradient thermal energy are the least viable options. Alternatively, wind and solar energy are the most promising since they can not only provide people with the needed amount of power, but can also help save climate of the planet.