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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Researched and published by Daniel Ireland


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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Contents Page

Title Page Page 1 Contents Page - Page 2 Introduction Page 3 Brief Information on Renewable Energys: Biofuel Page 4 Biomass Page 5 Geothermal Page(s) 6 & 7 Hydro electricity Page 8 Solar Power Page(s) 9 & 10 Tidal Power Page 11 Wave power Page 12 Wind Power Page 13 Fossil Fuels Page 14 Nuclear Energy Page(s) 15 & 16 Research/analysis/conclusion of work exp. at United Utilities Page(s) 17 - 18

Analysis & Conclusions of Research Page(s) 19 - 22

References Page 23

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Renewable Energy

This project is based on sources of renewable energy, fossil fuel energy, nuclear and the facts surrounding them. It will be looking at both sides of the argument for and against the use of fossil fuels, renewable energy & fuels and nuclear energy. The need for renewable sources of energy and their derived fuels is becoming increasingly important in todays society, as soaring energy costs and concern for co carbon footprints, due to the use of fossil fuels. The other major factor is that fossil fuels are not a limitless supply and as they become rarer the cost will be extreme. It would seem then that governments and energy companies taking action now and heavily investing in new sources would not only be a boost to the economy but also ensure that the future is bright for our children. It is also important for heavy investment now as energy bills are continually rising and customers incomes are not rising at the same rate. It is no longer affordable for many people nowadays, whether this is down to what customers perceive as greedy energy companies and their profits or the fact that fossil fuels are no longer a financially and sustainable viable option, remains to be seen. There are incentive schemes the government run at the moment such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). These are designed by the government to invest in alternative energy, reducing the impact on both the demand for fossil fuels and also reduce carbon emissions. A quarter of the UKs carbon emissions come from the energy used in homes and a similar amount comes from our businesses, industry and workplaces. The UK government's target is to reduce those emissions by 2050. Green Deal is a new government initiative designed to help meet the upfront cost of making your home more energy efficient. Due to be launched in late 2012, the Green Deal will allow you to install energy-efficiency measures and pay for the improvements with the savings on your fuel bill. Although you will repay the cost over time, this is not a conventional personal loan as the charge is attached to the meter and paid back through your fuel bill. If you move out, the idea is that the new occupant will pick up the charge while also benefiting from a more energy-efficient property. I hope by the end of this project to have provided detailed and structured arguments for both sides concerning all the options available with energy/fuel and make a judgement based on the facts. I aim to answer some of the questions and concerns surrounding renewable energy.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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Biofuel A biofuel is a fuel that is mainly derived from biomass or bio waste (biological carbon fixation). One type of biofuel is biodiesel, which is made from used vegetable oil. It can be when mixed with mineral diesel, be used in any diesel engine. Another biofuel is bioalcohol. These are biologically produced and include methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol which all have high octane ratings. Butanol can be directly used as a replacement for gasoline however it is currently more difficult to produce than methanol or ethanol. Ethanol is the most commonly used biofuel in the world and when used in a mixture with gasoline and 15% bioethanol, as it contains a higher octane, this is considered more efficient when burnt. However, ethanol has lower energy content, so to drive the same distance would require more fuel. When ethanol is burnt in the combustion chambers, this has a corrosive effect. Aluminium, rubber hoses, gaskets and fuel systems are also corroded by ethanol. Biogas is another example of biofuel. Biogas is created when organic materials such as; biomass, green waste, sewage and plant material are anaerobically digested by anaerobes. Biogas consists of mainly methane and carbon dioxide. It can also include hydrogen sulphide, moisture and siloxanes. Digestate is a by-product of the production process and can be used as a biofuel or fertilizer. Finding credible data on whether biofuel carbon emissions are lower than fossil fuel derivatives if difficult, as there a large number of factors to consider, such as land space being used for planting crops, fertilizers and machinery etc. More research is needed to clarify this. What is clear however is that biofuels derived from waste products, such as waste water treatment and household waste etc., are far lower in
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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terms of carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Plus there is the added bonus that these wastes are being used for good purposes, rather than being dumped out at sea or landfill sites.

Biomass Biomass is a renewable energy source, which comes from sources such as; food waste, industrial waste, wood, plant crops and sewage. They are biological materials from living or recently living organisms. There are many benefits to using biomass including it being carbon lean, can be sourced locally thus supporting the local economy and less atmospheric pollutants generated from biomass. Products of biomass include biogas, digestate and liquid liquor. These occur when the biomass is processed through an anaerobic digester. The biogas produced can be used to power generators which in turn provide electricity. The use of biomass as a renewable energy source is becoming ever increasingly popular as it is proving to be a sustainable method of harnessing energy from the sources and turning it into other kinds of energy. When waste water is being treated by water utilities, they take raw sewage (biomass) through a process. From this process, the sludge is then put through the anaerobic digesters, which in turn creates biogas, digestate and liquid liquor. The biogas is used to power generators which create electricity. As the generators run and begin to get hot, this allows for the combustion to be most efficient. Heat is then extracted from the generator which is then turned into steam thus creating more electricity. The digestate can then be used as a compost alternative and the liquid liquor used as fertilizer.
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Geothermal Geothermal energy is thermal energy trapped between the earths core and its crust. It is considered cost effective, reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. This being said, there are some concerns that the fracturing process can cause seismic events and trigger earthquakes. Greenhouse gases are emitted from the geothermal wells, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than fossil fuels. As the technology is advancing, more of these emissions can be captured and injected back into the earths crust. There are a few different processes that can be done with the geothermal energy sources. One is to create electricity, another is by direct application. When the geothermal energy is directly applied, the geothermal heat pump will pump heated water round anywhere that space heating is required. In Reykjavik, Iceland, spent water from these kinds of systems is then pumped round pipes under pavements and roads, keeping them ice and snow free in the winter. The Eden Project in Cornwall has recently gone ahead with a plan for a Geothermal heating district. With a capacity of 3-4MW electric and the ability to generate 95% of the time, it should produce enough electricity to supply Eden and around 3,500 households, as well as heating for the Biomes and possibly some district heating. It is hoped that power will be delivered from late 2013. The plant will be made up of two boreholes, driven around 4.5km into the granite beneath Eden. The rock at that depth is at about 180C. Water injected down the first borehole will be returned to the surface at around 180C via the second borehole. The superheated water will be used to generate electricity, and will then be returned to the injection borehole.
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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An EGS plant is very efficient when compared to many other systems. Around 30% of the power created by the plant will go back into pumping water around the system, so it can be said to be about 70% efficient overall. The plant should cover an area about the size of a rugby pitch, and the buildings no more than 10m (30ft) tall. Unlike other sources of renewable energy, the plant will be able to run 24 hours a day more than 345 days a year. Geothermal is not suitable for all, as drilling anywhere within an unstable tectonic region can potentially trigger earthquakes. Also, the earths crust has different depths with places where it is thin termed a hot spot. These are more ideal for geothermal technology due to less drilling required and more heat available to meet energy demands.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Hydroelectricity Hydroelectric power is the energy derived from flowing water. This can be from rivers or man-made installations, where water flows from a high-level reservoir down through a tunnel and away from a dam. Turbines placed within the flow of water extract its kinetic energy and convert it to mechanical energy. This causes the turbines to rotate at high speed, driving a generator that converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. The amount of hydroelectric power generated depends on the water flow and the vertical distance (known as head) the water falls through. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy, which when completed, there is no direct waste created and the greenhouse gases emitted are considerably lower than the fossil fuel alternative. The greenhouse gases (methane) come from organic matter being submerged. As this matter breaks down, this creates methane which is released to the atmosphere when water passes through the turbines. There are not any carbon emissions from hydroelectricity. As hydroelectricity can be generated 24 hours a day, this is a good source for renewable energy as opposed to some of the other options. The disadvantages to hydroelectricity however, are that sometimes a river may be completely diverted or a large space of land flooded to create a reservoir. This can have a damaging and lasting impact upon the eco system immediately surrounding the dam. Another issue is that the temperature of the water that is released back into the river is warmer, meaning that this can cause problems with wildlife. These problems can essentially have a damaging and lasting impact on the local ecosystem.
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Solar Power

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Solar Power is currently, possibly one of the best available sources for renewable energy. This is because it is completely green and a constant free energy source. There are three different types of solar power; photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and chemical solar power. With photovoltaic, this is done by the solar panels capturing the photons which cause the free electrons in the panels to move about, creating energy which flows using the positive and negative terminals of the solar panels. Concentrated solar power is where mirrors/lenses track the suns movement and direct the beam on to a central tower which is used as a hear source. Chemical solar power is where a chemical reaction is started by applying energy from solar power to start the chain.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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Another new alternative is that of artificial photosynthesis. Although development is at an early stage, it has been somewhat achieved. The idea is simple, take water and use sunlight to split it thus creating energy.

Photosynthesis is all about using the sun's energy to split water into its constituents, hydrogen and oxygen, and rearranging them into chemically more energetic molecules - in the case of plants, carbohydrates made with the help of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The idea is not just to replicate this, but to develop something better and more efficient.
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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Tidal Power

Tidal energy is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of the tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The tide is created by the gravitational effect of the sun and the moon on the earth. Tidal energy is therefore a predictable form of renewable energy, which can be harnessed in two forms: Tidal Range Tidal range occurs due to the movement of large volumes of water in the sea. As the tides move (flow and ebb), the increasing water volume in an area causes the water level to rise near the coast (high tide) and this reverses as the tide turns and the water moves away from the coastline. The amplitude of these effects is dependent upon the gravitational pull from the sun and moon and the local coastal morphology. Barrages and lagoons use this potential energy component of the tide to generate energy. Tidal Stream This is the flow of water as the tide ebbs and floods, and manifests itself as tidal current. Tidal stream devices seek to extract energy from this kinetic movement of water, much as wind turbines extract energy from the movement of the air.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Wave Power

Waves are generated by the wind as it blows across the sea surface. Energy is transferred from the wind to the waves. Wave energy is sometimes confused with tidal energy, which is quite different. Waves travel vast distances across oceans at great speed. The longer and stronger the wind blows over the sea surface, the higher, longer, faster and more powerful the sea is. The energy within a wave is proportional to the square of the wave height, so a two-meter high wave has four times the power of a one-meter high wave. Wave power works in various ways, with their being numerous different designs for the means of capturing the energy in the waves. One of these ways is the Pelamis device (seen above right) which works hydraulically. The Pelamis machine consists of a series of semi-submerged cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. As waves pass along the length of the machine, the sections move relative to one another. The wave-induced motion of the sections is resisted by hydraulic cylinders which pump high pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing hydraulic accumulators. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity Other methods include attenuators and buoys, again with various designs available.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Wind Power

Wind turbines harness the power of the wind and use it to generate electricity. Forty percent of all the wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for domestic turbines (known as 'microwind' or 'small-wind' turbines). A typical system in an exposed site could easily generate more power for your electrical appliances use. Wind energy uses the kinetic energy of the wind and turns into electrical energy. Initial costs are quite steep, but in the long run they will prove to be much more cost effective. Wind turbines work by converting the kinetic energy carried by the wind. The wind drives the propeller blades round which in turn, generates electricity which is then exported back to the grid and distributed. Although wind energy is a relatively cheap option when compared with some of the alternatives, there are drawbacks that come with using the turbines. These being that the turbines are unsightly. Also, wind is difficult to predict meaning that generation of electricity would cease at times. Wind turbines tend to be by the coast, at sea or in hilly regions where the greatest chance of strong winds are to occur.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

2011/2012

Fossil Fuels Fossil fuels firstly, fall in to 3 main categories. These are: Coal, Oil and Natural Gas. These can then be broken down in to their derivatives. Oil The derivatives start with Fuel Oil, Diesel Oil and Kerosene. These continue to Naphtha, Gasoline (Petrol) and Refinery Gases. As the price of crude oil continues to increase, the demand for cheaper and cleaner alternatives will surely increase. Coal This can be burnt directly to generate electricity and is currently (Aug 2011) the cheapest method of generating electricity. Coal provides 29.6% of global primary energy needs and generates 42% of the world's electricity. There are also the derivatives of coal such as CTL (Coal to Liquid). The two methods used for CTL are; direct liquefaction, this works by dissolving the coal in a solvent at high temperature and pressure. This process is highly efficient, but the liquid products require further refining to achieve high grade fuel characteristics. The second method is; indirect liquefaction, this gasifies the coal to form a syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide). The syngas is then condensed over a catalyst the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce high quality, ultra-clean products. Ultra-clean petrol and diesel can be then made from CTL. Although this ultra-clean petrol produces fewer emissions than standard petrol, overall, the process of CTL produces more emissions. The environmental impact of Coal over the years has been widely publicised, with it getting mostly negative press about it being considered as a dirty fuel. With technological advances, the capture of emissions and particulates created from the process of generating electricity or CTL has improved and there is also the possibility of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which would further offset the co emissions. Natural Gas In its purest form, it is almost pure methane. Ethane, butane and propane are also associated with natural gas. Natural gas is a vital component of the world's supply of energy. It is one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources. It is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, having fewer emissions. This is because the main products when under combustion are carbon dioxide and water vapour, the same as which we breathe out.
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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Nuclear Energy There are 2 types of Nuclear energy, Fission and Fusion. Nuclear fission - This is the splitting of an atom's nucleus to release heat. Nuclear power stations use the fission of uranium-235 to heat water. All nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste. At present the most dangerous waste is sealed in glasslike blocks which are buried deep within rocks. Careless disposal of waste in the past has led to pollution of land, rivers and the ocean. Nuclear fission is increasingly becoming outdated. The cons far outweigh its only pro of it producing carbon free energy. Nuclear reactors, whilst being largely unpopular and extremely expensive, produce waste material that currently has no viable long term solution for safe disposable. There is also the problem with the safety of Nuclear reactors following accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. Such incidents have highlighted the safety concerns and forced some governments into abandoning use of their reactors. The last such problem is the threat of terrorism. This alone causes alarm to many about the potential catastrophe of such an attack taking place. Nuclear Fusion This is the process that heats the Sun and all other stars, where atomic nuclei collide together and release energy (in the form of neutrons). Fusion scientists and engineers are developing the technology to use this process in tomorrow's power stations. To get energy from fusion, gas from a combination of types of hydrogen deuterium and tritium is heated to very high temperatures (100 million degrees Celsius). One way to achieve these conditions is a method called magnetic confinement' controlling the hot gas (known as a plasma) with strong magnets. The most promising device for this is the tokamak', a Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber.

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A Nuclear Fusion Reactor, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is currently being built in the South France. ITER is a large-scale scientific experiment that aims to demonstrate that it is possible to produce commercial energy from fusion. The outcome remains to be seen, but in theory, nuclear fusion does propose an interesting way forward for potentially supplying the future of our worlds energy demands.

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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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Research whilst on work experience at United Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant and analysis/conclusions I observed whilst on work experience with United Utilities in Oct 11 that they were not only treating the waste water but also making use of the by-products of the process. They are the water utility service provider for the North West and Cumbria. They are actually underway with a project to extend their waste water capabilities at their Davyhulme WWT site. This includes upgrading their on-site generators powering the plant from 2 to 5. The process starts with treating the sludge, then putting the sludge through anaerobic digesters which break down the sludge, which in turn produces byproducts such as gas, digestate and liquid liquor. The gas is extracted and is used to power the generators (which under their project scheme are being upgraded from 2 to 5). This will actually allow the site to export electricity back to the grid. This coupled with the carbon credits scheme makes this kind of renewable energy lucrative. They also are involved in making biodiesel from the algae during the waste treatment process. The algae can be mixed with diesel to create biodiesel thus cutting carbon emissions. They are involved in a scheme called SUPRABIO. Between February 2010 and January 2014, 16 partner organisations will be undertaking research with the aim of developing sustainable and competitive bio-refinery processing schemes for a range of geographical and social conditions. United Utilities Water has been responsible for many innovative developments in the water industry. A notable recent development is Enzymic Hydrolysis, which has become the new standard for sewage sludge treatment in the UK delivering enhanced biogas production and superior pathogen control capability. Such innovative ideas of rethinking how we manage our waste and by products are not only kinder to the environment but also potentially lucrative. Their involvement in schemes such as SUPRABIO, aiming to produce biodiesel shows initiative to be at the forefront of future technology aimed at improving the use of by-products of waste water treatment. United Utilities are a FTSE100 listed company and with regards to the schemes they are involved in, it isnt hard to see why. Learning about these things, albeit initially not in such detail, ultimately led me to create this beginners guide report on alternative energy sources etc.

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Energy Sources

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This diagram shows the SUPRABIO model process (which includes United Utilities) for sustainable and competitive biofuels.

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Analysis & Conclusions of Research In a world with an ever increasing demand for energy, the need for alternative energy sources is rising. This coupled with the environmental challenge of reducing carbon emissions means a lot of research and development of current and new technologies to try and find an abundant energy source that fits the bill. From my research I have come to the conclusion that when all things are considered, nuclear fusion, for me is the future. If they can achieve their research goals on fusion, then it has the potential to not only provide a new virtually carbon free energy source, but to open the door of possibility to developing the technology for other purposes. All the energy sources have their different pros and cons. But it really depends on your reason for looking at alternative energy. If you look at it from the angle of tackling climate change, then you would tend to lean towards green sources of energy. Although again, this depends on which side of the argument you stand on with regards to global warming. Some people believe it is a myth, and others believe it is responsible for many of the changing patterns in the weather system. There are truths and facts in the climate change debate. Such as: The Earths surface has warmed by about 0.75C on average since around 1900 and by around 0.4C since the 1970s. More than 30 billion tonnes of CO2 are emitted globally each year by burning fossil fuels. The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) requires all domestic energy suppliers with a customer base in excess of 250,000 customers to make savings in the amount of CO2 emitted by householders. Suppliers meet this target by promoting the uptake of low carbon energy solutions to household energy consumers, thereby assisting them to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes. The primary aim of CERT is to make a contribution to the UKs legally binding target under the Kyoto protocol (to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012) and the Climate Change Act 2008 requirement (to cut emissions of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050). However, CERT will also help: reduce energy demand; enhance the UKs security of supply; reduce energy bills for those receiving measures; reduce fuel poverty; and, secure jobs in energy efficiency industries. The following diagram from New Scientist explains the global warming effect.

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Daniel Ireland

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So it would seem that using any energy that does not derive from the suns heat will increase the warming effect on the planet. This leaves wind, hydro and wave power to supply energy without altering the balance of the planet. This in turn though, can cause other potential problems. Renewable energy sources can also affect the climate. Wind farms are one such potential problem. They can affect the local climate where they are situated. Surface temperatures behind the wind turbines were higher than in front during the night, but as much as 4C lower by day. It is thought that this is caused by turbulence which sucks air down from above. Farmers in California and Florida are already using strategically placed turbines to combat frost by sucking down warmer air. It is possible, that on a large enough scale, trying to harness the winds power will alter the patterns thus altering the movement of the different weather fronts that bring the heat, cold and rainfall with it. Solar Power could also affect the climate of the planet by making it less reflective. The effects of this however, would depend proportionally on the efficiency of the solar power technology. So looking at some of the options, it seems that harnessing the green energies can bring with it complications. Perhaps then, another approach would better suit our needs. What if, existing fossil fuel methods of electricity generation were developed to be more efficient, carbon was captured and stored underground and particulates collected preventing pollution. Would this satiate the energy demand? I think the answer may lie somewhere else, as fossil fuels are a limited source. Personally, I think that updating and making more efficient technologies alongside introducing long term energy options is the best solution. I think having numerous energy sources would keep the market competitive for consumers and reduce the demand on any particular source. If, like I said earlier, nuclear fusion is the way forward, is it possible to offset the warming effect on the planet of creating energy. Perhaps with CCS (Carbon Capture & Storage) offsetting other carbon emissions, we could utilise geo-engineering to return the planet to equilibrium thus avoiding climate change. Would this idea ever work? Well in theory you would have to say it would. Nuclear fusion is in development already and the idea (although needing more research) of geo-engineering seems a distinct possibility. This idea hints at artificially inducing the planets weather systems to reduce the warming effect created by free energy. This could also lead the way to manipulating the weather patterns to suit the needs of farmers etc. For example, farmers and drought regions getting rain when needed. Lastly, I find that my own approach to energy sources is that of an ethical one. I believe in recycling waste materials and not in land fill sites. Whatever you add or
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Daniel Ireland

Energy Sources

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take from this planet must be balanced either way. Life has a cycle, not just for us, but for every other species on the planet including animals and plants. As a human race, through evolution we have mastered many skills to become the dominant species on the planet. We now need to master harnessing energy sources, as this will surely lead to a brighter future for us all. There is a fine balance that we must try and work to, because sooner or later if we dont, we will have a problem that we may not be able to do anything about. So whilst the choice to take action regarding energy sources is here, we should do our upmost to address it. Recycling also has a bearing on the demand for energy sources. If we can recycle virtually everything and find uses for their by-products, then surely this can help reduce the demand on fossil fuel derived energy sources. Such an example of this would be the treatment of waste water. There is a process which finds excellent uses for these by-products of waste. The sludge has algae which contains oil. This oil can be mixed with diesel to create biodiesel, reducing the demand on the need for diesel. When the sludge is then put through anaerobic digesters, this gives off a gas, which can then be used to power generators which in turn create electricity. The final digestate when dried can be used as compost alternative and liquid liquor used as a fertilizer. So the benefits of this are there to be seen, not only environmentally, but financially. These processes are already implemented in places, by utility waste water treatment companies. If these processes were more wide scale, then there would be less dumping of sludge out at sea and more benefits to be had from the by-products. Other companies are also looking at ways of implementing biodiesel. It not only makes transport kinder to the environment with the carbon emission savings, but with the constant rising price of diesel also makes financial sense. Nowadays companies are becoming more environmentally conscious and want to be environmentally sustainable. With the constantly rising price of oil and governments targets of carbon emission saving, biodiesel is ever increasingly looking like a sound, viable option. To conclude, I believe nuclear fusion and geo-engineering will return the planet to equilibrium in regards to carbon emissions & the global warming effect. This will bring us to become a type-I civilization (type-I civilization refers to work by Dr Michio Kaku). Ultimately once nuclear fusion is mastered, this will allow us to harness the power of a star and although an entirely different subject altogether, I believe fusion will power space travel.

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References Wikipedia Scienceonline.co.uk decc.gov.uk energy-saving-trust.org.uk tidalenergyltd.com pelamiswave.com stockporthomes.org ofgem.gov.uk edenproject.com worldcoal.org naturalgas.org ccfe.ac.uk iea.org iter.org conserve-energy-future.com newscientist.com clickgreen.org.uk suprabio.ee United Utilities

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