Green energy comprises natural active processes which can be attained with slight pollution. Geothermal power, anaerobic digestion, wind power, small scale hydropower, biomass power, solar energy, wave power, tidal power, and certain forms of atomic power (ones that are capable to burn atomic waste by a process identified as atomic transmutation), and consequently belong to the “Green Energy”. Some explanations may similarly include power consequential from the burning of waste. Some individuals, including James Lovelock and George Monbiot have precisely classified atomic power to be green energy. Whereas many others which include Greenpeace disagree while claiming that problems supplementary from radioactive waste along with the chances of nuclear mishaps pose an intolerable risk to humanity and environment. Conversely, newer atomic reactors are adaptive of exploiting “nuclear waste” to the extent that it becomes no more dangerous. These new designs of reactors have also minimized the risks associated with the atomic accidents.
No energy source is completely impact-free on environment. In reality, all power sources need energy and consequently raise some level of pollution at least from the manufacture of that technology. Some argue that even though green energy may be considered commendable effort for solving the increasing energy needs but it must accompany specific cultural change which brings decrease in power consumption by the consumers. The actual electrical power which reaches the end consumer will not be generated mainly from sources solely from green energy. The domestic utility company, state power, or electric company pool buys the electricity from producers who may generate from nuclear, fossil fuel and renewable energy. In most of the countries the green energy forms small part of electricity generation which is generally contributing about less than 5% of overall power generation. In few U.S. states, the local government bodies have formed various regional electric power purchasing organizations using Solar Bonds and Aggregation of Community Choice in order to achieve about 51% green energy. The best example of such a city is San Francisco.
Green Energy in United States
In United States, problem with buying green energy from electrical grid can be considered as current centralized structure that distributes the electricity. The infrastructure has headed to progressively common brown outs besides black outs, high CO2 releases, higher energy charges, and energy quality issues. An added $450 billion are invested for expansion of this unqualified system over 20 years in order to meet growing demand. Moreover, this centralized infrastructure is being overtaxed through incorporation of green energies like geothermal, solar, and wind energies. Green energy resources, due to their large space requirements, are frequently located in distant areas where a lower energy demand is persistent. The existing infrastructure would create transporting the energy to the high demand regions, such as town centers, highly wasteful and in certain cases unmanageable. Additionally, despite the quantity of green energy made or the financial viability of the technologies merely about 20% will be capable to be merged into grid. In order to have more sustainable power profile, the US must try to move in the direction of employing changes to electrical grids that will house the mixed fuel economy.
During the 2012 presidential elections, both the candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have supported for a decrease in imports of foreign oil and for expansion of United States energy production for boosting up the economy while creating new jobs. The presidential candidates have emphasized various points of alternate energy sources including green energy. They both have agreed to the fact that energy independence is critical requirement of the country especially for national security. Conversely, both Romney and Obama are of varying view points on the role of government about subsidizing the energy production including debate of which sectors are to be favored.
Green Energy Infrastructure
Green energy, right after the generation is to be instantly stored in the medium for using it with various autonomous devices and vehicles. Additionally, in order to provide household energy in various remote areas which are far away that they are not connected to any form of grid network, energy storage can be considered as an essential requirement for use along with green energy. The energy generation with its consumption usually use stand-alone type of power systems. Some examples of such systems include energy transporters as hydrogen, compressed air, liquid nitrogen, energy storage flywheel, and pumped-storage .
Usually though, green energy is acquired from electricity grid which means that the energy storage in this case is not used due to the fact that the grid is generally organized to produce an exact quantity of electricity which is being consumed at a particular moment. Energy generation on electricity grid usually set up like the combination of green energy resources and various other types of power plants including fossil fuel and nuclear. Such combination nevertheless, which is vital for the energy supply can only generate power when the primary source like wind, sunshine or water flow is existing. The best way to implement green energy is to throw out the fossil fuel plants in phase wise manner and convert to combination of green energy completely .
Green energy based power generating plants provide a smooth flow of electricity. For instance ocean thermal, hydropower, and osmotic plants all are such power plant which provide stable power at regulated pace hence these are available energy sources at given moment. Currently however, number of smooth flow green energy plants are still very small in number to meet the energy demands. In addition the greening of various fossil fuel including nuclear power generating plants is another option to be considered for generating green energy .
Many large-scale power storage proposals for grids have been carried out in the past. This develops efficiency as well as decreases power losses however an alteration to the energy storing electricity grid can be a very expensive solution. Particular costs could possibly be condensed by utilizing equipment for energy storage by the consumer. For instance, the car batteries are owned by the customers which can be used as buffer for electricity grid. Conversely, setting-up this system would be a complicated yet difficult procedure. Moreover, energy storage equipment like car batteries can also be built with such materials which pose a danger to environment like in case of Sulphuric acid. Fundamentally, the combined utilization of batteries would still not be environment friendly. There are various other ways of energy storage that may be exercised at grid level like flywheel and compressed air storage .
Modes of Green Energy Generation
Green energy generation depends on various naturally occurring resources which do not deplete due to their use. These resources are also known renewable energy resources. There are several modes of green energy generation, some major of which are discussed below:-
The main obstacle which is stopping large scale application of solar based energy generation as of today is inefficiency of the current solar technologies. Currently, photovoltaic panels have ability of converting into electricity, about 16% of sunlight hitting them. At such a rate, most of the experts argue that solar based power can’t be considered as an efficient green energy hence it is not economically sustainable due to the high cost of production of solar panels. There are various institutes which are funding solar power researches like National Renewable Energy Laboratory which has the budget of more than $75 million and it develops various research projects of photovoltaic technology along with solar radiation and solar thermal energy .
Various academic programs have also placed prime focus of solar research during last few years. These programs include Solar Energy Research Center at University of North Carolina which has a purpose of making cost effective and highly efficient solar power products. During 2008, researchers and experts at MIT developed the method of storing solar energy while utilizing it in production of hydrogen fuel just from water. This research was targeted to address the hindrances which solar panel development is facing to store produced energy in order to utilize it during night time. During early 2012, a company named Semprius Inc. which is from North Carolina announced the deployment of highest efficient solar panels. This company is backed by the world renowned multinational Siemens. The claim of efficiency by this company is about 33.9% which is quite large figure as compared to previously in use solar technologies .
Wind power research is in working conditions since 1970s after NASA developed the analytical model of predicting wind turbine based power generation from high winds. Currently, various institutes including NREL have initiated various programs which address wind power production researches with focuses on advancement in materials, sensors and aerodynamics. The NREL’s wind projects can be considered as having prime focus of improving wind based power production while reducing the capital costs side by side with increasing the efficiency of the wind turbines. The NREL forecasts that leveled cost of generating wind based power in U.S. only will reduce about 25% by the end of 2030 .
This type of green energy is fundamentally produced through tapping thermal energy which is created within our planet earth. This energy is considered as green energy because it has no pollution emissions and it is constantly reloaded. Nevertheless, the technology of geothermal energy based electricity production is young and under developing stages of its economic viability. Many entities, like the NREL are carrying out researches towards the focus of establishing some proven technology for geothermal energy based power production. The renowned International Centre for Geothermal Research which is a German research organization, focuses on geothermal based energy researches .
More than a billion dollars has been allocated on various R&D projects of hydrogen fuel only in United States. The NREL has certain departments which are dedicated to only hydrogen research. The hydrogen can be used as useful energy storage in variety of applications especially in aerospace. Whereas this technology is almost ineffective in case of automobile due to its inefficiency as compared to standard batteries. For instance by paying the same cost a user may get three time more power from standard batteries. So this technology is not considered as cost efficient.
– Ethanol biofuels
As the main source of related to biofuels in United States, numerous organizations are piloting research in this area through production of ethanol. The USDA is conducting heavy researched in this field at federal level. Most of these researches are aimed at effects of using ethanol for domestic energy requirements especially in terms of food. The NREL has carried out many ethanol based research projects with considering the field of cellulosic based ethanol. This type of ethanol has large benefits as compared to traditional ethanol which is corn based. This type of ethanol do not deprive the population from food by consuming corn as it is mainly produced from the wood, few plants, and grasses. Furthermore, some researches have proved that cellulosic ethanol is cost effective than traditional ethanol.
Green energy has been a source of clean and pollution free power generation but it is still a cost ineffective solution. Various government entities are focusing on decreasing the cost of production in this field of energy but no significant results are achieved which will be considered as replacement of traditional fossil fuel systems. US is the largest energy consuming economy if per capita energy consumption of the country is considered. The debate of implementing green energy for US’s energy needs was one of the prime topics in 2012 US presidential elections. Green energy has variety of modes of electric power generation but all of them have large initial investment requirements as compared to the fossil fuel based energy production units. This limitation is playing the pivotal role in restricting most of the countries in implementing green energy as the main source of electric power to meet their energy needs.
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