Essay: Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy- For US Electricity Needs

Essay: Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy- For US Electricity Needs
April 14, 2011 Comments Off on Essay: Solar Energy vs. Wind Energy- For US Electricity Needs Academic Papers on Engineering,Sample Academic Papers admin

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Introduction

The United States of America is the world largest economy and industrial center. With high standard of living for people and presence of a strong technological infrastructure, US are also the world largest consumer of energy, electrical and in other forms. Electrical energy is of particular importance in this regard, because unlike other forms of energy, like oil or gas, electrical energy is generated by converting other forms of energy.

The current estimate of electrical energy consumption in the US puts it around 800,000 megawatts/hour. US currently use a number of means to generate electricity. Nearly half of the electrical energy in the US is generated by Coal, while natural gas also contributes significantly toward electricity generation. The third largest source of electricity generation is Nuclear power, while other sources of electrical generation include hydro electrical generation and petroleum. As being the leading consumer of fossil fuel for the generation of electricity, US is also among the top countries in the world which produces tremendous amount of greenhouse gases that have contributed greatly to the cause of global warming around the globe (US Energy Information Administration, 2009).

The continuing warming of the atmosphere and the oceans has causes serious problems around the world and according to some estimation could lead to catastrophic and unprecedented destruction of life on earth. Thus, there is a strong need in the US of not only provisioning for the future needs of electricity but also generation of such electricity through means that are environmental friendly. Among the alternative means that are in use for generating electricity in US are nuclear, solar and wind energy. While nuclear is the most efficient among the three means, the fact that hazardous material is used in nuclear power plants which could cause tremendous damage to the environment in case of any accident and that its movement to and from the power plant requires exceptional measures, makes it less likely to be selected when considering electricity energy production options (Makvart, 2000). Solar and Wind energy are the two other options which are not only considered clean, efficient but also safe from handling and accidents point of view. Energy conservation and clean energy promotion groups are divided when it comes to selecting between solar and wind energy.

Both energy options are not only sustainable but depend on two of the most abundantly available sources of energy on earth, that is, wind and sunlight. One good source of information that favors the use of Solar Energy is the paper written by Tsoutsos, Frantzeskaki and Gekas. In this paper the authors state that solar energy technology provide an obvious advantage over other conventional energy sources when it comes to environment and hence contribute to sustainable development of the human activities. It maintains that the use of solar energy does not cause depletion of any natural resource while contributing toward reduction of CO2 emissions in addition to the absence of any waste product, thus ensuring an absolute clean and safe energy source (Tsoutsos, Frantzeskaki & Gekas, 2005). On the other hand, Swisher, De Azua, and Clendenin, in their paper, claim that commercial wind power generation has been one of the greatest success stories of the last few decades, and is fully capable fulfilling a significant portion of US energy demands in the future if aggressive research and development is conducted to improve technologies and make them cost-effective (Swisher, De Azua & Clendenin, 2001).

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