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The energy sources

Fatema Miah:

The energy we use everyday are produced from these sources. Worse of from among them fossil fuel and the coal burning source is the worse harmful to the environment. Also the gas burning adds carbondioxide to the environment.

Nuclear:  The fission of uranium or other heavy elements produces a great deal more energy than fossil fuels but needs additional safeguards. However, the basic structure of the power stations is very similar. The use of fission has been  discussed more fully in  my last years articles.

Biofuel: Organic materials, collectively called biofuel, can be used to generate electricity. Biofuel can be obtained directly from plant material, such as peat and wood, or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic and industrial waste. Also written in detail in o e of my previous articles.

This can be burned directly, in the same way as fossil fuels in a power station, or used to produce gas (biogas) that can then be burned. It is generally used in vehicles and not in power stations.

There are problems surrounding the technology, economics and the environmental impact of biofuel. Nonetheless, its said that the constructive use made of waste material makes this a worthwhile field to develop.

Fossil fuels: The majority of the power stations in the UK use fossil fuels. They create steam from the heat produced from burning coal or gas, but gas is mainly aimed at and approve over coal here in UK.

The remains of living organisms, plants and animals, buried and compressed over millions of years, have formed the fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas. Plants absorb solar radiation and use it in a process called photosynthesis to produce new plant material.

Wind power: The rotation of the blades in windmills harness kinetic energy from the wind and so wind farms are able to produce electrical energy. Clearly, the position of the windmills is an approved and important consideration. They can be installed both onshore and offshore. It’s carbon free option.

Single wind turbines generate in the order of 2.5 MW of electricity, enough to power for the need of over a thousand households. In 2015, it was the most productive of the UK’s renewable energy resources.

Hydroelectric and wave power:  Most hydroelectric power comes from dammed water being allowed to fall and then turn a turbine. The falling water loses gravitational energy and this is converted to kinetic energy of the turbine. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy but the damming of rivers can have huge impact to those communities situated downstream. This option needs to assessed for any likely hood  of problem.

There are plans to harness ocean wave power to generate electricity, but this is proving difficult to do on a commercial basis. Waves, of course, are also produced largely by wind. Tidal power can be obtained from barrages built across estuaries.

Solar energy: Solar energy is the ultimate source of nearly all the energy sources. Solar energy can be harnessed directly via the use of photovoltaic cells which produce electricity. There have been great advances in the efficiency of photovoltaic cells in recent years.

Solar energy can also be used to heat water directly, replacing the need for heating by gas or electricity derived from other sources.

Geothermal power: Another source of electricity is hydrothermal power, which usually depends on water being pumped down into the ground, heated by hot rocks deep below the surface and the steam produced is then used to run turbines.

In Iceland, the Svartsengi geothermal power station uses naturally occurring hot water (at about 90 °C), which gushes to the surface of the volcanically active island at a rate of over 400 litres per second. The steam from this hot water is used to run turbines. Access to geothermal energy is only possible in a tectonically favourable setting so not all countries can use this source of energy.

Our national grid of UK  has  got a whole variety of power stations. And here, we’ve got Ironbridge power station will be coming on fairly soon. In West Burton. Let’s  just look at how much we need.

In winter, Britain uses on average 50 gigawatts of electricity. That’s 50 billion watts. The grid meets that demand using 7 gigawatts from nine nuclear power stations. Coal power stations generate around 25 gigawatts, gas power stations make a little more, and renewables, including wind, provides around 10 gigawatts. Another 6 gigawatts comes from abroad, or other sources.

Fatema Miah, Solihull, uk. fatemamiah@mail.com