How Can We Switch??
There are many different forms of renewable energies, wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydro energy, and on, and on. But none of these options would work by themselves. Sure, we could try to run the entire country on solar electricity. But the areas where solar energy is produced in enormous amounts are only in the southwest, so there could be blackouts in Maine since Maine is far away from New Mexico. Renewable energies unlike fossil fuels are spread out across the country because of the United States diverse geographical features. The main reason why they can be used so successfully in pairs is because the different types of energy are so different. If we combine them right we could move toward 100% renewable energy usage
Hydroelectric is one of the most reliable forms of renewable energies. Unlike solar and wind it can produce electricity without having certain weather conditions. There are two types of machines that can produce hydroelectricity. One, is the more atypical building a dam along a river and letting the water go through parts of a dam where paddles are positioned so the running water will turn them, generating electricity. There are problems with this approach, building a dam impacts the ecosystem of the river it is blocking drastically. One of the good things about this type of energy though is that it is dependable and the dam methord is well know and tested for most problems. The second option is called tidal power. You place wind turbine like propellers either deep under the ocean or close to the shore to use the tide and ocean currents to spin the propellors and generate electricity. A good thing about utilizing tidal technology is that is it reliable, and if the ocean currents stop we have much bigger problems to worry about. The best places to position these tidal turbines is around the coasts of Alaska and Maine.
Only 1% of all the electricity in the US is produced using solar power, because it is the most costly of all the renewable energies. Solar power works like this; sunlight strikes a solar cells, and because that cell is made out of crystal the cell’s electrons begin to more up and down, generating electricity. But to make this process work you need specific types of crystals to make these solar cells. And to grow those crystals is expensive, even with how expensive they are there are still good things. One of those good items about solar energy is that where the highest amounts of concentration of solar power is in the New Mexico area. Also, solar arrays will produce much more electricity in the sommer that any other type of renewable energy, but wont produce as much during the winter because of the shorter amount of daylight. But since solar cells are so expensive manufacture, it is not one of the most popular options when it comes to switching to renewable energy.
Wind energy is a growing market, even though it only produces about 1% of the US’s energy total. It is a whole lot cheaper that solar cells and is easier to produce, since all you need is a propeller generator system. When the wind blows it turns the propellors witch in turn turn the generator creating electricity. A bad thing is that it only operates when the wind is blowing, some of the most prime areas for using the turbine design are in Alaska, the western part of the United States, and the Appalachian part. If we really work on it wind energy could become the forefront of a new age of 100% green power. But there have been other designs that have been floated around the scientific community that instead of using the traditional propellors why not a kite? Like tidal wave the stronger winds that have the possibility of producing more electricity are farther out of our reach.If a wind turbine could catch the winds way up in the jet stream we could produce three times as much electricity that a standard turbine unit. The only thing that is holding us back is that we need to develop one first, a kite that can catch this curent then send the electricity back to earth.
Another type of energy that has not been mentioned yet on this blog is geothermal energy. Geothermal energy could be the solution to the “seasons problem”. The seasons problem as I call it is a the problem when different part of the country consume more energy during different times of the year for heating and cooling. Because geothermal energy operates using holes dug into the earths crust to find heated water, when the water comes up the heat is extracted to be used for heating and the cold water is disposed of, or could be used for cooling. When the steam/hot water comes up through the well it turnes turbines, much like the ones used for generating hydroelectricity, and these turbines turn a generator witch generates electricity. The best places for this technology to be used in the states California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. The good thing about this technology is that it is entirely eco-friendly and reliable, the bad thing is that drilling holes in the earths crust that deep is incredibly hard to do and it is kind of unstable.
As you can see all of these different energies’ “hot spots” are located in different places. Geothermal works well in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah. Wind works well in Alaska, the western part of the United States, and the Appalachian part of the United States. Solar power works well in the New Mexico areas hydroelectricity and tidal power work well almost anywhere. If you add all of these types of energy up you soon have enough sources to cover the entire country. This idea works, but the big problem is money. As I pointed out in my old post to operate all these powers together you need a smart grid. On top of the costs for building a smart grid, you need to develop enough turbines, dams, solar cells, and kites to power huge vast areas. The cost to do this is way above us in the current economic situation. The only solution is to do this one step at a time, incorporating a careful balance to move our way to catching up with the rest of the world in terms of being green.