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Senior Project Research Paper


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  • 1. Morgan 1Zach MorganMs. TilleryAP Literature18 November 2011 Alternative Energy In 2007, the Energy Information Administration estimated that more than 86% of theworld‟s energy came from fossil fuels (Search on for alternatives to oil power).The problems ofpollution and scarcity of resources plague the lives of humans, and as the world populationbegins to rise, so will our energy consumption. The world must now take measures in order toreduce our carbon footprint and ultimately end our dependence of carbon based fuels for ourenergy needs. Therefore, the focus must shift from harmful coal and petroleum based energysources to cleaner and more efficient sources of energy production. Cheap, clean, and renewableways to produce energy is in high demand as our society becomes more and more dependentupon electricity to power our modern lifestyle. Alternative energy sources, the problems that weface with this new technology, and methods of resolving these issues are all important in the raceto reduce the output of carbon into our environment. Over the course of the next few years, research and development teams need to takealternative energy sources to the next level if we are to reduce our dependency on carbon basedfuel supplies. refers to alternative energy as, “energy, as solar, wind, or nuclearenergy, that can replace or supplement traditional fossil-fuel sources, as coal, oil, and naturalgas” (Alternative Energy). There are many different types of renewable energy sources, andthere are also many methods and tools used to attain each type of alternative energy. Perhaps oneof the most popular alternative energy sources is solar energy or energy that comes from the sun.
  • 2. Morgan 2The process of photovoltaics already produces energy to power items such as calculators, roadsigns, and street lights, but the technology can expand even further. The use of larger solarpanels can collect enough of the sun‟s rays to power a home, business, or even entire cities.According to Frank Laird, “the suns rays give off approximately 1,000 watts of energy persquare meter of the planets surface” (Laird). This means that the potential for solar power isendless. Anywhere on the planet that there is an empty roof or an open field, a solar panel can bemounted and thousands of watts of electricity can be captured and used for human consumption.Solar power offers endless opportunities for the creation of clean electricity. Another type of alternative energy is energy that can be captured from the wind. Windenergy can be captured using very simple tools called wind turbines. Wind turbines have bladesthat are mounted either vertically or horizontally that spin a generator whenever the wind pusheson the blades. Wind energy produced through wind driven turbines have proven themselves tobe, “an untapped energy resource that could reduce the need for coal, oil and natural gas”(Renewable Energy). The potential for wind energy to power communities on windy coastalareas is vast, and the technology can be applied on a small scale for personal use, but it can alsobe put into a large scale to power entire communities with emission free energy. The final alternative source of energy that can be expanded to reduce the world‟s relianceon fossil fuels is nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is energy that is created by forced nuclearfission or fusion reactions. These reactions put off of heat and energy that can be used to createmassive amounts of electricity to power everything the world needs to survive. The wonder ofnuclear energy is the sheer quantity of energy that one nuclear power plant can produce. TheNuclear Energy Institute states that, “Nuclear energy is America‟s largest source of clean-air,carbon-free electricity, producing no greenhouse gases or air pollutants” (Key Issues). The
  • 3. Morgan 3miracle of the emission less nuclear power plants added to the amount of energy that one plantcan create makes nuclear energy the master of alternative energy sources. However, the utopia of a world filled with alternative methods for attaining energy is notentirely attainable. There are many problems with the various renewable sources of energyincluding costs, efficiency, and many other issues. The main problem that the expansion ofalternative energy faces is the lack of support by government and individuals. Scientists andengineers have collaborated and determined that before alternative energy sources can dominateour society, they must provide an, “increased understanding of how alternative energies workand why they are beneficial; the availability components for these systems must increase; andlastly the pay-off time must be decreased” (Investing in a Renewable Energy Future). Withoutpublic education of the harmful effects of fossil fuels, the people of the world will not understandthe importance of developing and embracing renewable energy sources. As long as cheappetroleum is available to put into our cars, and coal and natural gas are burnt to power ourhomes, the people of the world will not move towards safer more efficient energy sources. Theadvantages of using alternative sources for energyis not currently knowledge that every nationeducates its people on. Secondly, the technologies must become available as a consumer product that ismoderately priced for most middle to upper class individuals. Currently, there are fewtechnologies that are available to the average consumer. This makes it incredibly difficult forprivate companies to market alternative energy and the motives for individual action have beenstaggered. This leaves alternative energy solely in the hands of the government, and withoutsufficient support or funds in the governments of the world, clean renewable sources for energyare unattainable in any aspect of our future.
  • 4. Morgan 4 Finally, as with every other aspect of life for humans, we search for instant gratification.For alternative energy to be successful in this economy, the benefits must heavily outweigh thecosts. Currently, the costs of installing solar, wind and nuclear power facilities are high, and theytake a while before they are fully paid for and become profitable to the facilitators. If alternativeenergy is going to make a stand in our economy, the technology needs to become cheaper, and ithas to have a strong platform for competition against cheap non-renewables. The only way that the world can fight back against pollution and dwindling resources isto fix the problems facing alternative energy on both the large and small scale. Tackling thethree problems of alternative energy will not be an easy one; however, with widespreadcooperation from both governments and individuals, the future of the world‟s energyconsumption can be a clean and endless one. Raising awareness about the condition of ourenvironment due to energy consumption is the first step in creating a cleaner future for everyone.Governments in the United States for example, have switched to wind and solar power for alarge portion of their energy usage. In California, the governor passed a Renewable Energyprogram that led them to produce upwards of 20% of their energy using renewable resources by2010 (Alternative Energy). Education is the first and most important step in the process ofswitching to alternative energy. Also, turning alternative energy into an easy to attain and marketable product forconsumersis the second step towards a clean future. GE is so confident in its ability to up theante with solar power, that they have, “put extra time and capital forward to further improve thetechnologies associated with solar panels, and widening the horizons for widespread ownershipby the average American” (GE on Jump Into Solar: Were Confident and Were Scaling Up).
  • 5. Morgan 5The marketability of alternative energy will add a new area to the world market and create manynew jobs as the market of renewable energy grows. Lastly, to make the market for alternative energy a competitive one, the time untilrewards and results can be seen must be drastically shortened to meet the wants and needs of theworld consumer. As the technology becomes more available and cheaper, the amount of timeuntil the energy facilities start to pay off will be decreased. This will allow for renewable energysources to gain support from consumers, and gain backing by the government. This type ofsupport is the only way that the world can truly tackle the issues that we face with our energysources and the issues that we face with pollution. All in all, in order to attain a bright and cleanfuture with enough renewable resources to go around, action must be taken now to diffuse theproblems that face alternative energy sources. In conclusion, our world faces the problem of a polluted environment, dwindlingresources, and an ever rising population. Alternative energy sources, along with the problemsthat we face with this new technology, must be met and matched by methods of resolving theseissues in order to reverse the damage that has been done to our environment so far. In order forour world to thrive in the future, we must embrace the use of alternative methods of attainingenergy and move away from harmful non-renewables. Therefore, we must leave carbon basedenergy sources such as natural gas, coal, and petroleum behind. Cheap, clean, and renewableways to produce energy is the only way that the world can reverse its damage to the environmentand clean the air of harmful greenhouse gasses. Along with the issues, come solutions that couldrevolutionize the way people all over the world refer to energy. Clean is the new standard, andcheap efficient energy is only a stone‟s throw away from a very wonderful reality in the lives ofpeople across the globe. To sum things up, the problems the world face have a door that needs to
  • 6. Morgan 6be opened and have its issues addressed so that the world may restore the natural beauty andhealth of our planet and keep it that way for many generations to come.
  • 7. Morgan 7 Works Cited"BEYOND OIL: WIND AT OUR BACKS." Seattle Post-Intelligencer [Seattle, WA] 10 Nov. 2008: B5. Global Issues In Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.< Documents&idigest=b527955b5caccdb4b4a2d40e86fe061a&type=retrieve&tabID=T006 &prodId=GIC&docId=CJ190345012&source=gale&userGroupName=cant48040&versio n=1.0>"Expert stresses exploration of alternative energy sources." Qatar Tribune [Doha, Qatar] 14 Nov. 2011. Global Issues In Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. < Documents&idigest=b527955b5caccdb4b4a2d40e86fe061a&type=retrieve&tabID=T004 &prodId=GIC&docId=CJ272377137&source=gale&userGroupName=cant48040&versio n=1.0>"Renewable energy."Manila Bulletin 22 Apr. 2011. Global Issues In Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.< Documents&idigest=b527955b5caccdb4b4a2d40e86fe061a&type=retrieve&tabID=T006 &prodId=GIC&docId=CJ254502241&source=gale&userGroupName=cant48040&versio n=1.0>"Search on for alternatives to oil power." Manila Bulletin 6 July 2005. Global Issues In Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.< Documents&idigest=b527955b5caccdb4b4a2d40e86fe061a&type=retrieve&tabID=T006 &prodId=GIC&docId=CJ133796906&source=gale&userGroupName=cant48040&versio n=1.0>
  • 8. Morgan 8“Alternative Energy Sources.”Alternative Energy Sources.N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <>.“Alternative Energy.”Alternative Energy.N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <>.“Alternative Energy.” N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <>.“Asia Report: The Intensity Increases Over China Pricing .”Renewable Energy World.Renewable Energy World, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. < news/article/2011/10/asia-report-the-intensity-increases-over-china-pricing>. saysits becoming a competitive market and creates jobs“GE on Jump Into Solar: „We‟re Confident and We‟re Scaling Up‟ .”Renewable Energy World.Renewable Energy World, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. < solar-were-confident-and-were-scaling-up>. says that they are making improvements and furthering use and prosduciton“Investing in a Renewable Energy Future.”Investing in a Renewable Energy Future.Chevron, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. < ?gclid=CJ3lk4qB8KsCFQFZ7Aodz1iAlw>. business using alternative enrgy“Key Issues.”Nuclear Energy Institute. NEI, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. < resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/protectingtheenvironment/factsheet/ nuclearenergyandtheenvironment/>.Laird, Frank. "Alternative Energy."Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics.Ed. Carl Mitcham.Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 56-59. Global Issues In
  • 9. Morgan 9Context. Web. 17 Nov.2011.<>