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 Green Energy: Beginner
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JessieMae
True Blue Farmgirl

702 Posts

Jessie
Raleigh North Carolina
USA
702 Posts

Posted - May 28 2024 :  07:39:34 AM  Show Profile
I taught 8th grade for many years, and part of our curriculum here in North Carolina is to compare and contrast different methods of energy production, so I feel like I'm well-prepared to complete this portion of the Cleaning Up: Green Energy (Beginner) badge!
Nonrenewable energy resources include coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy. Coal is cheap, easy to transport and store, and mining provides good-paying jobs in areas that don't have a lot of good job opportunities, but burning coal is damaging to the environment, coal mining harms the land, and coal mining can be dangerous to the miners. Oil is also cheap and easy to transport and store, and again, mining provides good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, burning oil emits greenhouse gases, oil spills cause long-lasting damage to land and wildlife, accessing some wells (fracking) is extremely damaging to the environment, and harmful emissions from oil processing plants can make people sick. Natural gas is sometimes considered the "best" of the three fossil fuels because it burns cleaner, is less expensive, and is more energy efficient than coal or oil. But it also has serious drawbacks: it is combustible and can cause explosions, the most common method of "harvest" (fracking) is extremely damaging to the environment, and the infrastructure to collect, distribute, and store natural gas is complicated and expensive. Nuclear energy, although sometimes considered a "green" energy alternative, is nonrenewable because the radioactive elements (like uranium) required to generate energy are nonrenewable. Nuclear energy has comparatively low pollution (with the notable exceptions of temperature pollution when hot water is dumped into existing lakes and radioactive waste material by-products), and a little fission material is required to produce a lot of electricity. However, like all energy resources, it is not without drawbacks. Mining uranium is damaging to the environment, there is a high cost (and danger) in securing radioactive waste, it is expensive to build a plant and purchase fission material for fuel, and, of course, nuclear power plant accidents are deadly and cause global impacts for many generations. Renewable energy resources include solar energy, biomass energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric energy. Solar energy is a relatively simple technology that requires little maintenance, is reliable and quiet, and the energy is free after you've purchased and installed solar panels. However, because it requires full sun to generate electricity, you can't generate electricity at night or on overcast days, and it is not particularly efficient. Biomass energy uses refuse that would otherwise be disposed of (chicken poop, cherry pits, excess corn, waste wood, etc.), but the burning creates greenhouse gases. Wind energy can be very efficient and cheap in places with steady winds, and it is clean and it doesn't emit any pollutants into the atmosphere. On the downside, wind (like solar) can be inconsistent, big wind turbines can be injurious to bats and birds, and many people dislike the appearance of wind turbines adjacent to their property. Geothermal energy is clean, it does not require another fuel source to produce it, and it does not emit any harmful pollutants into the air. Unfortunately, because it depends on access to magma underground, only certain areas with shallow soil and a lot of volcanic activity can harness this resource. Finally, hydroelectric energy is relatively inexpensive, it is available anywhere there is a river, and it is reliable because engineers can control the flow of water. However, building dams is an expensive undertaking, damming a river causes a great environmental impact for people, plants, and wildlife, and it is dependent on rainfall to keep the reservoir at an optimum level. In conclusion, there is no one perfect energy solution that will work for everyone. Instead, people should do careful research into the resources that are available and practical for their own situation, and act accordingly.

Jessie Mae
Farmgirl #134

Edited by - JessieMae on May 28 2024 08:05:08 AM

MaryJanesNiece
True Blue Farmgirl

6916 Posts

Krista
Utah
USA
6916 Posts

Posted - May 29 2024 :  1:46:08 PM  Show Profile
This is great info Jessie! For my location wind energy would be best. We have wind on a daily basis and many days it can get pretty strong. It actually feels eerily weird when we have a day with no wind. Congratulations on completing your beginner green energy badge!

Krista
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Nancy Joplin
True Blue Farmgirl

204 Posts

Nancy
Ontario California
USA
204 Posts

Posted - May 29 2024 :  3:03:58 PM  Show Profile
I agree with you, Jessie! We all need to do what is best in our area of the country. There are green alternatives and unfortunately, none are the "perfect" solution.

Nancy 8352
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