DC and AC Generators: Development of Renewable Energy
Info: 9102 words (36 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019
Electronic operations and technology is a vital part of our everyday lives. Many of the devices and technologies we use are dependant of electricity generated within the principles of electronic operations. The principles of electricity generation are not new concepts in fact they were first discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday (Michael Faraday Wiki, n.d.). He discovered that moving a bar magnet through a wire coil had the potential to generate electricity. This is due to the magnetic field created when a magnet passes through coiled wire. He experimented using a magnet, wire coil and a galvanometer to test different conditions on the basis of his hypothesis. He discovered that the polarity of the magnet would reverse the deflection shown on the galvanometer and also that a greater velocity would supply a greater effect thus creating a larger magnetic field. He also discovered that this velocity is necessary to create a magnetic field as a stationary magnet would show no readings on a galvanometer. (Mr. Faraday’s (most excellent) experimental researches in electricity (1831), 2008) With this discovery the basic principles of electricity generation were implemented into the creation of new technology. In modern society these methods are still used, albeit in a larger and more complex scale in order to sustain the incredible energy demand within our current society. Many generators are designed to create the largest EMF (Electromotive force) using the least input energy required. (L.H. de Medeiros, 1998)
One of the main ways that electricity is generated nowadays is using a piece of machinery called a DC generator. DC stands for direct current and it is applicable to many modern instruments and devices. A generator is a piece of machinery responsible for converting kinetic (movement) energy into electrical energy. These DC generators are popular due to their simplistic design and efficiency in large scale industrial electricity production. A DC generator is designed to convert mechanical energy into direct current electricity using Faradays law to create a large production of dynamically induced EMF. The construction of a DC generation is fairly simplistic meaning they are cheap and easy to assemble. (Baymani Nezhad, 2013.)
External structure of a DC generator:
Firstly, the generator has an outer frame called a Yoke. The yoke is responsible for protecting and insulating the generator to reduce the amount of waste energy (mainly heat) transferring from the generator to the surrounding atmosphere. The yoke is most commonly made out of cast iron or steel as these materials provide a great deal of physical protection at a relatively low cost which ensures the internal structure of the generator is not compromised which might lead to faults. Also, this component provides an apt surface for excess magnetic flux to flow throughout the material is made out of is highly conductive. (Construction of a DC Generator, n.d.)
Secondly the yolk is bound and stabilised by poles and pole shoes. These components provide extra support for the external structure as they are joined to the yoke in order to spread the weight of the machine more easily and also provide extra support. These are also commonly made out of cast iron or steel which carries the magnetic flux through the air gaps within the yoke.
Field windings are usually made out of copper as it is a cheap conductive and ductile material which is effective at creating tight coils which are securely place on the outside of poles. (USA Patent No. US 5977684 A, Nov 2, 1999)
AC generators work using the same basic principle of electromagnetic induction as a wire passes through an electromagnetic field in order to generate electricity. (Mr. Faraday’s (most excellent) experimental researches in electricity (1831), 2008). There are many alternate benefits to using an AC generator which may not be applicable to the usage of a DC generator. AC stands for alternating current which means the production of current fluctuates up and down along the template of the sin wave. Alternating current is the most common form of mass produced electrical current as it is the primary source of power for the majority of household appliances. (Suryawanshi, 2017)
What separates an AC generator from a DC generator isn’t limited to the type of energy produced; in fact the internal structure of an AC generator is quite unique to that of a DC generator. The also operate in slightly different ways where a DC generator in constantly in a unidirectional motion an AC generator constantly changes direction of rotation to produce an AC voltage waveform. (Ashok, 2016)
In regards to structure both generators share similar components due to the nature of their overall purpose but both have components designed uniquely for their specific production of their individual voltage waveform.
External structure of an AC generator
The external structure of an AC generator is identical to that of a DC generator containing all of the same components including: the yoke, poles and pole shoes. Unlike the DC generator the field windings are found on the internal structure of the generator near the rotor and the armature windings are placed externally from the field windings.
Internal structure of an AC generator
Unlike a DC generator an AC generator has rotating field exciters with a stationary armature coil. This is because at high voltages exceeding 30kv the armature windings are easier to insulate which therefore protects the overall circuit from having faulty connections caused by the heat produced due to the temperatures reached caused by resistance of a large current. In this type of generator the windings act as a stator which provide a stationary electromagnetic field. In contrast the rotor acts as an armature rotates within the stationary field which temporarily restricts the direction of force which then produces the desired output voltage.
Within an AC generator there is an option for them to be constructed using two different rotor types. The first rotor is a salient pole type. These are often found within low to medium speed alternators meaning they are most effective on smaller scale generators which produce slightly less power. This type of rotor is made up of a large number of salient poles which are secured by bolts to a magnetic wheel. The other type of rotor is a cylindrical type rotor which are most commonly used on high speed alternators. This rotor is comprised of a smooth solid cylinder which has slots to place field windings.
Alongside a rotor AC generators also contain a stator which contains the three main sets of windings needed to power the generator. The stator is stationary and has two poles which produce an electromagnetic current when the windings are passed through it. The three types of windings alternate and overlap once they pass through the magnetic core. The use of three separate windings within a stator makes it a three phase but an individual set of winding can be used to create a single-phase stator. (Daware, 2014-2016 )
Brushes are the electrical pathway from the rotor to the slip rings providing a path of minimal resistance for the transfer of electricity. To generate a complete circuit these brushes and slip rings are both conductive providing continuity for the entire circuit. These brushes only ever carry a current of a round 2-5 amperes which may be a contributing factor in their longevity within a generator.
AC generators are specifically designed to be easily maintained as each component can be easily accessed and if necessary removed. It is effective designing these generators in this was as it reduces the cost of having to destroy or dismantle an entire generator for the sake of maintaining a single part. This also reduces the likelihood of faults or damages caused by unsatisfactory maintenance work as disassembly of a generator is relatively simplistic.
In recent history many new sources of renewable energy have been researched in order to preserve the earth’s non-renewable resources that are used within the production of electricity such as oil or coal. These natural resources are used in the production of kinetic energy within AC and DC generators meaning both of these machines are contributing to environmental damage. The investment in new technologies such as solar panels can reduce the environmental impact that electricity generation can produce. (A. Resnick, 1994)
The most common modern use of a generator is for individual residential power supplies. Solar panels are incredibly effective on a smaller scale as they have a relatively low payback time meaning many users are greatly lowering the electrical bills which means solar panels can be considered both environmentally and economically sustainable. The increased use of solar panels within industry is also becoming more prevalent in today’s society as solar panels are becoming cheaper and more efficient. When industries reduce the emissions created within mass scale production they comply with government legislation to reduce impact to the environment through the production of electricity. (Vasili, 2017)
Many people are slightly discouraged from investing in renewable energy sources as the start-up costs they produce are a great deal larger than that of a generator. Sources such as solar panels are also relatively ineffective for large scale production as the amount of sunlight required to produce energy is quite substantial and it would be difficult to cover large areas such as cities.
Solar cells work on the basic principle of photovoltaics which is the conversion of light into electricity on an atomic level. When light from the sun strikes a solar cell the electrons are delocalised from the atom as energy causes movement within an electron which allows then to move freely within the semiconductor material. When electrical conductors are placed either side (positive and negative) of the solar cell they are able to be trapped within the electrical current generated from the two poles to generate electricity.
The majority of solar cells are constructed out of crystalline silicon representing over 85% of all photovoltaic cells sold in 2011. This material is used within solar cells due to the fact they compare 20%- 25% better on average than other types of silicon. This material is also relatively cheap to purchase reducing the overall cost of producing solar cells. This material is also effective as it has a much lower level of impurities than required for a solar panel. (Adolf Goetzberger, 2014)
There are a variety of modern applications in which solar cells can be used as a primary or secondary source of power. For example, many calculators manufactured today have a solar panel to provide the calculators energy but they also contain a backup battery available in the event of lack of sunlight. Since calculators only require a miniscule amount of energy to run a small solar panel is the most suitable source of energy available. (Future Technologies Inc, 2017)
Another extremely common source of electricity used in a great deal of products nowadays are batteries. Rather than using light or kinetic energy like the previous examples, batteries are reliant on the conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy. Batteries are convenient due to their small and portable size which allows them to fit into smaller handheld devices such as phones. There are two main types of batters which include primary batteries (more commonly known as single use or disposable batteries) and secondary batteries (more commonly known as rechargeable batteries). Both types of batteries have their own unique benefits and drawbacks which contribute to their wide range of usage in different products. (M Brain, 2000)
Firstly a primary battery is reliant on a uni directional reaction initiated when a circuit is connected when a battery is placed in a device to complete a circuit. This occurs because the chemicals within the battery begin to separate from negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions. These ions then travel through the battery to the circuit which allows them to power a circuit.
Primary batteries are usually mass produced meaning they are more readily available than rechargeable batteries. This mass production also means the unit cost per battery is reduced which lowers the price of buying one use batteries. Primary batteries also have fewer variations meaning a single design of battery is likely to fit several devices whereas rechargeable batteries are usually designed for a specific product. (Baltimore, USA Patent No. US 3660163 A, May 2, 1972)
The use of primary batteries stems across a large amount of devices used every day such as television remotes and smoke alarms. Despite this they don’t generate a large amount of electricity so they are unsuitable for large appliances or industrial usage.
Due to the fact primary batteries cannot be reused they generate a great deal of waste after they’ve been used. The greater issue is that many people don’t dispose of these batteries properly meaning the harmful chemicals within them are being released into the environment daily when they are sent to landfill. Also primary batteries may be cheaper in the short term but constantly replacing them causes them to become more expensive than secondary batteries in the long run.
When a primary battery works due to a uni directional reaction a secondary battery works upon the basis of a reversible reaction. A reversible reaction occurs when the reactants can be remade by the product of the reaction meaning the reaction can work both ways. Within a lithium-ion battery the ions power a device when it is discharging whereas the ions absorb power when the battery is charging. These reactions can take place thousands of times within a single battery making them effective for devices that need constant recharging such as laptops or phones. (Seung-Won Lee a, 2003)
Secondary batteries are more environmentally sustainable due to the fact they can be reused multiple times rather than being thrown out after every use. Rechargeable batteries are also more effective at producing electricity meaning they are likely to only need recharging after excessive usage. (Rechargable batteries, 2012)
Despite their environmental sustainability secondary batteries are usually designed for an individual device making them more expensive to replace and difficult to come across. Most devices that use a lithium ion battery also tend to protect them quite extensively making them difficult to repair or replace
The majority of large scale power stations work upon the fundamentals of converting kinetic energy into electrical energy through the use of a generator. In modern society there are a wide variety of unique power stations which use different sources to produce the kinetic energy required to power a generator.
One of the most common forms of power plant is a coal powered station. Coal is a natural recourse created by the condensing of carbon atoms over hundreds of millions of years. This recourse is usually accessed through mining as it is found within rocks meaning it is an ore. Since this resource is found below the ground in rocks, extraction is time consuming and expensive. Despite this coal releases a large amount of energy relative to its size making it a cheap option for large scale power stations. In terms of cost efficiency a coal power plant has a large initial start-up cost due to the complex setup and the cost of purchasing large quantities of coal but wholesale economies of scale in regard to bulk purchasing allow larger companies to save a large amount of money making coal an efficient choice for power stations. However coal is a non- renewable resource meaning as it is depilated it will become more expensive to purchase making it an economically unsustainable resource. (Meij, 2007)
Coal also releases a variety of harmful gasses and particulates when it is burnt which can contribute to both global dimming and global warming. There is a large issue with the largescale release of harmful gasses such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide being released into the atmosphere due to production within coal power stations. Not only are these gases produced when coal is burnt within power stations but the environment is also damaged greatly when coal is extracted from the ground. The destruction of habitats as well as noise and visual pollution are common features of coal extraction. This energy source is damaging to the environment through a variety of different methods making it one of the most environmentally unsustainable methods of generating electricity. (Kadam, 2002)
Coal generates electricity through the conversion of heat energy to kinetic energy. The coal is heated to a high temperature and is then placed in a furnace where it is required to evaporate a large amount of water. As the water evaporates it generates steam which rises to turn a turbine. This turbine rotates a shaft connected by a generator to generate electricity.
Due to the excess heat require to produce steam working on these sites can be extremely hazardous. Scold and burn injuries can be easily obtained due to poor maintenance, machinery faults or inappropriate conduct. To reduce the risk of obtaining injuries on a coal power plant the owners should ensure that: all machinery is up to date and regularly serviced, all workers and maintainers are fully trained, competent and provided with the correct personal protective equipment and ensure that faults are dealt with quickly and effectively.
Another type of power station which has become more popular in recent years is nuclear power. The most common nuclear power source used is uranium 235 which is an unstable isotope which generates heat through the occurrence of nuclear fission. This method of electrical production is one of the most expensive to set up as there are a large amount of safety precautions needed to be put into place in order to safely operate a nuclear power plant. Despite these initial start-up costs a nuclear power plant can be economically sustainable since the amount of energy produced per nuclear power rod can generate an incredibly large profit for the business.
A nuclear power plant is more environmentally sustainable than a coal power plant as the power source used is renewable which means it will not be depleted like natural coal will. Also the only waste product produced within nuclear fission is water which isn’t harmful to the environment, this means no harmful gasses are produced which may contributed to global warming. Despite this uranium has to be extracted from the earth through mining which again leads to the destruction of habitat as well as noise and visual pollution.
The process of producing electricity with a nuclear power source is very similar to the methods used within a coal power station. Firstly the chemical reaction within a nuclear powered rod generates heat energy. This heat is used to boil water which generates steam. This steam can them be used to power a turbine using kinetic energy which is then converted into electrical energy within a generator. This occurs at a greater scale at a nuclear power plant because a nuclear power source generates a greater amount of energy relative to its size in comparison to coal.
There are a great deal of hazards involved in the production of electricity from a nuclear source, not only for the employees of the plant but also for the surrounding areas if issues arise. A nuclear meltdown can lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths due to the ionising characteristics produced from gamma rays which are produced by uranium 235. In order to prevent this from happening many measures are put into place to reduce the risk of a nuclear meltdown such as system override switches and isolation chambers. Staff working on these plants need to be fully competent and trained to prevent any hazards from occurring within the plant.
Finally, as renewable energy sources become more and more prevalent within our society the investment in new renewable resources are becoming more common within the electrical production industry. For example, one of the most common forms of renewable energy is wind power. Wind power is incredibly effective within countries of high speed winds or near coastal cities as turbines are designed to produce energy through the force applied by the wing.
Wind turbines work by converting kinetic energy into electrical energy as unlike many other power sources kinetic energy is the main input which means costs are reduced through the conversion of the energy. The generator within the turbine then sends the energy to a step-up transformer to be taken to houses or industrial estates. (Gipe, September 1st 2004)
Many countries have a budget designated to the investment in renewable energy to incentivise the protection of the environment so the start-up costs of windfarms are relatively low in comparison to coal or gas-powered stations. Despite this low start-up cost the turbines require a great deal of servicing and maintenance due to the extreme weather conditions they fall under which means servicing costs can accumulate pretty quickly. Also, there is a great deal of risk to employee health and safety whilst maintaining these turbines due to their extreme height which could lead to fatal injuries or even death if employees. (California, 2005)
Wind turbines can also be ineffective if there is no source of wind to provide the kinetic energy. This means they may not be fully operational all year round meaning some form of backup generator or power source may need to be in operation in order for the power supply to be sustainable. In order to set up a backup power supply companies would have to pay a large sum to the national grid to ensure their customers never fully run out of power which will add large excess costs to the company.
A great deal of residents may also complain about the implementation of wind turbines dues to the visual pollution they can cause within residential areas. Wind turbines can also be a large obstruction to native wildlife such as certain species of bird as they may fly into the blades and be injured or even killed.
In regards to selecting a suitable power source there are arguments for and against each individual method which I will discuss now.
Firstly, one of the major considerations involved when setting up a power station is cost. Coal power stations are probably the most expensive to set up and run due to the cost of purchasing bulk orders of coal. Despite the incredibly running cost coal power stations they also produce the most revenue due to the large amount of electricity produces and distributed daily making it one of the most profitable types of power plant. Nuclear power also has an incredibly high start-up cost as the technology used to control the nuclear fission reactions require a large amount of heat which therefore means they also require a large amount of power which generates a large utilities bill. Also in order for a nuclear power station to be safe there are many preventative measures put into place in the event of an incident which all cost money to install. In contrast the relative cost of uranium 235 in comparison to the amount of power it produces is low meaning the fuel cost to run a nuclear power station is marginally less than the profit they gain from the energy produced. Finally, wind power probably has the lowest running cost since there is no fuel required to generate electricity. Despite this the locations where turbine sites are usually placed generally have large property costs which contributes to their large running cost. Also, these turbines often need a great amount of servicing and maintenance which costs a large amount of money. In contrast wind turbines often have very little to no taxation since the government are trying to encourage greener energies which greatly reduces their cost in comparison to non-renewable fuel sources such as coal.
Coal power is renowned for being one of the key factors contributing to global warming due to the incredible amount of toxic gasses it releases into the atmosphere every minute. This source of power also causes environmental destruction during the extraction process as mining causes prominent issues such as habitat destruction and deforestation. Nuclear power does not produce as many harmful by-products as coal since the combustion of uranium 235 produces water which is harmless. Despite this uranium does not occur natively meaning it must be extracted from an ore through methods such as electrolysis since it is not easily displaced. This extraction process requires a large amount of energy and produces a large number of waste products which are harmful to the environment. Lastly wind power is a renewable source of energy so it does not greatly impact the environment in a negative manner. The only pollution a wind turbine generates is during its construction period but despite that wind turbines are the best power source relative to protecting the environment.
There are a great many hazards associated with the production of electricity due to the extreme temperatures, voltages and in some cases heights they contain. Coal power stations are extremely hazardous as extreme temperatures are required to boil the water required to produce kinetic energy. If staff are not correctly trained they could be at risk of severe burn or scald injuries which could have long-term impacts on their life. Nuclear power stations also deal with extreme heats which could be hazardous to workers is not correctly trained. Also, there are perceived links between nuclear power stations and likelihood of developing cancer due to the ionising nature of the fuel source within them but this speculation has been discredited by researchers as the power source used is secured to an extent where it is unlikely to harm a human being. Finally, there are not a great deal of risks associated with wind power besides the height at which engineers need to reach in order to maintain and service the machines. Falling from these heights could cause serious injury or even death so there needs to be correct safety methods put into place before anybody attempts to service the turbines.
Lifespan and decommissioning
Coal power plants tend to have a relatively low lifespan due to the wear they receive from the extreme temperatures they reach. Despite this they are easy to construct so if a coal power station is out of use it is likely that it will simply be demolished and replaced with a new power station as it is usually cheaper and safer to create a new power station than attempt to repair and reinstate a decommissioned power station. There is a great deal of risks associated with decommissioning a nuclear power station due to its radioactive and damaging nature. For this reason, nuclear power stations tend to be built with the intention of giving them a long lifespan to avoid having to decommission many power stations unnecessarily. In regards to wind turbines decommissioning is difficult and expensive as specialist construction contractor would have to de-service it due to the height and weight of the product. Decommissioning turbines also produces a great deal of wasted material such as steel plating and electronic equipment which are difficult to reuse. Wind turbines tend to have a short lifespan due to the fact they are constantly exposed to the weather meaning they are more likely to rust or deteriorate than covered power stations.
For this task I will be writing justifications for the use and application of the aforementioned types of power station, discussing the pros and cons of the application of each within modern society.
Firstly, one of the most controversial and prevalent sources of power that we use is coal power. There are a great many arguments for and against this power station as it simultaneously benefits and damages society through its use. For this reason, different groups of stakeholders are likely to disagree over many aspects of the construction and implementation of nuclear power stations.
Firstly, in favour of coal power stations is the cost effectiveness of their use. Around 41% of all energy consumed around the world is generated through coal power plants which means many families and homes are reliant on coal power to live. This source of power is the most popular since it is incredibly cheap to produce. These low costs make them desirable for lower income families or areas whom may not be able to keep up with incredibly high electricity bills.
Next, coal is a reliable power source. Reliability is one of the most important factors to consider when discussing energy sources as many at risk areas such as hospitals are reliant of consistent energy to keep people alive. This is also the case for houses which may contain dialysis machines or life supports where temperamental power sources could be a situation of life or death. Power sources such as solar or wind are unpredictable and are unlikely to provide a steady source of power which make them less suitable for certain requirements.
Coal also is an incredibly important industry within many society’s as for a lot of countries coal power is the main source of economy. For example, within South Africa the mining industry which coal power stations are responsible for contribute to the 51 billion rands of the country’s overall wealth in comparison to golds 31 billion. Coal is one of the key recourses sourced within the mining industry, as of 2013 coals overall contribution to mining value rose to 22.5%. Another region directly impacted by the continued use of coal power stations is India. It is well known that India is one of the most densely populated countries within the world with over 22% of the population living below the poverty line according to government reports in 2012. Within India the coal power company of Sasan has directly employed 5,000 people and has indirectly contributed to the creation of 195,000 jobs and has provided an economic impact of $54 billion through its 4-year construction phase and its 25-year lifespan. This kind of contributions can entirely shape a country’s economy especially those which rely on the export of goods or services.
Finally, coal has an incredible impact on developing economies due to its prevalence in the manufacturing industry. Large factories require a large sum of power to operate effectively, this type of demand can only be met and fulfilled through the use of reliable and cheap power sources such as coal. Developing countries are reliant on this competitive market as many of their employees are unskilled or have not been provided the correct training so they are unable to find skilled professions within an oversaturated market. Many families survive on the income of money produced within large industrial factories which would be unable to operate on the expenses that are associated with other sources of power.in this regard coal power stations are responsible for providing jobs for many employees within developing countries, which in turn expands the nation’s economy, which leads to reinvestment in amenities such as education and healthcare. (D Black, 2005)
Despite this there are negative effects associated with the usage of coal as a primary power source and the construction and maintenance of coal power stations. Many parties are actively against the implementation of coal power stations within society and firmly believe there are greater alternative which can supply the increasing demand for electricity around the world.
Foremost one of the main arguments many take against the usage of coal power stations is the damaging environmental impact that it is reported to have. The burning of coal in order to produce heat releases a large amount of harmful gasses and particulates into the air which contributes in large part to the greenhouse effect, global warming and global dimming. According to Greenpeace reports ‘Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels. Burning coal is the largest single source of climate changing carbon emissions in the world’. In summary coal is incredibly damaging to the environment as global warming is a prevalent issue within the global agenda currently. In spite of these claims there is an increasing amount of investment in new technology surrounding coal power stations in order to make them more environmentally sustainable. For instance, it is greatly publicised the detrimental air quality within China and surrounding regions but it is also less frequently publicised that China is the leader in production and development of new boiler techniques and emission control techniques to the point where power stations are not the primary focus of air quality emissions within the country. If it were more widely encouraged to implement these new technologies as opposed to destroying these power stations we would be able to enjoy the discussed benefits of coal power stations whilst simultaneously reducing the negative environmental impacts associated with coal.
Another argument frequently used to discourage coal power stations is how coal is a depleting non-renewable resource. Contrary to this argument, it has been proven that the vast majority of coal reserves deposited around the world have been left untapped. Due to the reduction of coal mining around the world these sources may remain completely untapped for hundreds of years. It is necessary that coal power stations are still in use until a safer, cheaper and more renewable energy source is developed but until that time coal power stations are incredibly important. It is predicted that coal deposits will run out by 2088 but it is also predicted that a new energy source will be implemented and developed before that happens. Coal is required to sustain the population’s energy demand until a better alternative is implemented.
Additionally, coal power is discredited due to the masses of externalized costs this industry produces. Externalised costs include any cost produced by the coal industry which are not paid by people directly involved with the industry but rather third parties such as taxpayers. Many argue that taxpayer have to pay for the potential environmental impacts produced by the industry and the eventual clean-up for issues or accidents which may happen on these plants. Although this may be partially true it is no more expensive to taxpayers than ha ving to pay for other necessities such as water or emergency services. Unlike many other power sources coal has recently seen an increase in taxation of production which means many coal power stations are paying a greater amount in tax than is required to fulfil its environmental impact costs. The taxation provided from coal power stations can be used by the government to reinvest in necessities such as healthcare or even invested into the development of new power sources.
A relatively new power source which has become increasingly ubiquitous within modern society is nuclear power stations. The development of these power stations has become the focus of the global power agenda as they provide the potential to creating a sustainable power source which generates enough power to supply the increasing energy demand produced annually around the world.
Primarily nuclear power stations are important due to the incredibly potential they hold. The more common and widespread they are the greater the amount of money invested in research regarding nuclear energy which could lead to a breakthrough which could solve the world’s energy crisis. Currently we know very little about the potential of nuclear energy which makes it dangerous but despite this we are becoming increasingly well informed as more time and effort are implemented into developing these power stations. Another incredibly important consideration for defending nuclear power stations is the large amount of public knowledge and involvement it encourages. Many people who may otherwise never research nuclear power or its properties are becoming inspired and interested in its development which inspires future generations into perusing scientific careers within the energy sector. Due to the skilled profession shortage in the UK we should be doing everything within our power to encourage future generations into the development of more sustainable power sources.
In addition, nuclear power produces a greater amount of energy for its relative size in comparison to coal. Uranium 235 produces 3.7 million times the amount of energy as coal meaning less of it is required to produce the same amount of energy as coal power stations. This means there is a lesser requirement for uranium to be mined and transported which reduces its overall environmental impact comparative to coal. The lower demand also means there is less area for exploitation of employees within the mining industry as it is more heavily regulated due to the unstable nature of the element. Also, there is a greater amount of training provided to unskilled staff within this industry as it is a highly specialised area which high risks associated meaning people who may not have otherwise received specialised training will have it provided by nuclear power companies.
Due to global issues and hazards caused by the failure of nuclear power stations they are now heavily regulated to protect the staff and general public from issues such as nuclear meltdowns. This open communication between the government and nuclear power providers makes it one of the safest industries currently in operation. This example of open communication also impacts other industries as it increases the pressure to be honest and open with regulators in order to reduce the risks of accidents such as Chernobyl. (United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1975)
Another factor in favour of nuclear power stations is the reduced environmental impact it has in comparison to conventional power sources such as gas or oil. Nuclear power stations comply with clean air standards of 1970 because they generate heat to power turbines through nuclear fission rather than burning fuel. This decrease in emissions benefits the environment greatly as nuclear power plants not only do not produce harmful greenhouse gasses but they also don’t require a large amount of space to be built which in turn reduces land pollution and the destruction of habitats. Nuclear power can also be favoured against renewable resources such as wind or solar technologies as it produces a larger amount of energy without using as much rural landscape making it more visually appealing and less environmentally damaging.
Nuclear power also is a contributing factor within the socio-economic status of many European countries, most notably the development of Slovenia. Many European governments are attempting to encourage the usage of nuclear power as it is less environmentally damaging and more likely to comply with environmental legislation than power sources such as coal or oil. Due to this compliance the government are likely to provide grants to encourage businesses to set up these power stations causing the initial start-up costs to be reduced greatly. Nuclear power stations require a great deal of supervision in order to make them safe to operate which means there is a large requirement for manpower to operate these sites on a 24/7 basis. Due to the sheer number of staff required to operate a nuclear power station there is a large number of job vacancies for the area surrounding the plant. In poorer regions such as Slovenia the jobs produced by nuclear power plants are vital as they provide a steady source of income for many families whom may not have otherwise found work. The increase in employment also boosts the economy as more taxes can be payed and less expenses on unemployment are payed.
People may have the argument that nuclear power stations are unstable and a danger to the surrounding communities. There are reports that suggest the implementation of nuclear power stations can be linked to increased rates of genetic mutations and various forms of cancer. Despite these reports there has been no valid evidence to support this as there is little to no background radiation caused by nuclear power stations. One of the main sources of background radiation is medical equipment. The radiation produced within hospitals is equal to or greater than the radiation produced within nuclear power stations. This is due to incredibly secure and enclosed locations where unstable isotopes are kept. Due to recent disasters the security and enclosure of potentially harmful substances is greater than it’s ever been meaning there is no risk to public health through the use of nuclear power stations. Another link to this argument is the nuclear waste produced by power stations which can potentially enter our ecosystem and start damaging our food and water sources. To refute this there are many documents to support the millions of dollars invested in the sophisticated treatment and storage of nuclear waste. Experts agree that the nuclear waste produced is effectively secured, well managed and well-guarded meaning there is limited chance of contamination either unintentionally or intentionally. The production of nuclear waste is very highly monitored and regulated by government officials meaning there is little to no chance of contamination occurring. (DeLeon, 1979-01-01)
Another dispute surrounding the use of nuclear power is the potential for meltdowns which may be damaging to the public’s health or in extreme cases could cause explosions which could render surrounding areas uninhabitable. This has become the focus of the public’s attention after controversies such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. Despite the publics disagreement these meltdowns did not occur due to the incapability of the power station but rather through the mistakes of higher individuals or government officials. Due to the lack of information previously disclosed surrounding nuclear power there was an extreme lack of communication which in turn lead to accidents. These mistakes have been learned from and now the nuclear power industry is one of the most openly communitive industries in existence working closely with employees and government officials alike.
As the demand for renewable sources of power increase the construction and implementation of wind farms is becoming an increasingly common sight around the country. Many Greenpeace activists are incredibly enthusiastic about the prevalence of wind power as it does not produce any harmful by-products. Wind turbines are also incredibly effective as the UK is required to produce 15% of its total energy by 2020.
One of the major arguments in favour of wind turbines is the reduced amount of environmental damage it produces. There is no requirement for fuel within a wind turbine as kinetic energy is directly converted into electricity. Since there is a reduced amount of fuel burnt there is also a reduction is harmful greenhouse gasses produced. The only harmful by-products are produced during the construction phase of wind farms. Due to the fact they are environmentally sustainable they receive a great deal of support from the government. This environmental compliance means local councils are likely to provide funding or grants to encourage the construction of wind farms opposed to conventional power production methods such as coal. (IEE, 1983 )
Wind farms are also relatively easy to maintain and construct. Due to their simplistic nature large areas of wind turbines can be quickly constructed without a large amount of land or manpower. They are also incredibly easy to disassemble or dismantle if required whereas power stations such as nuclear power plants take years of planning and careful management in order to be decommissioned. Maintenance on turbines are also relatively cheap and despite the risks associated with the height they can easily be fixed if they are being serviced by a trained professional. This increases the amount of jobs required for skilled mechanics within the UK which will encourage more people to enter the engineering industry.
Finally, wind turbines are incredibly cheap to run as they require no fuel and the only costs associated with them involve the start-up costs. These start-up costs are relatively cheap as they only are required to pay for materials, construction and land. In some circumstances the local council or government will donate this public land which reduces these costs even further. Often the land used within the construction of wind turbines is within rocky, uneven or otherwise uninhabitable land which means the land used does not impact the land required to build suitable housing.
Some people may argue that wind power is not effective enough to support the demand for energy within the UK or even globally but this is simply not the case. If the same budget associated with the coal or nuclear industry were invested into renewable power sources it could easily supply this demand. Within this region wind power is incredibly effective as the UK is subject to incredibly high winds at altitude meaning the turbines in service here will be more effective than wind turbines in service in dry arid countries such as Africa. With the increased pressure and focus into development of new technologies and different forms of renewable energy it is likely by the time the earth’s natural resources have been depleted there will be a new form of green energy which will be capable of sustaining the power requirement of the planet. (Kempton, 2004)
Another argument contrasting the use of wind turbines is there unreliability. The majority of wind turbines are only in use 1/3 of the time which means it is not fulfilling its full potential of energy production. Despite this the energy required from wind turbines are not prevalent for 24 hours of the day as energy consumption greatly decreases during the night time. This means the generators within turbines are capable of storing energy from low consumption times to be used during times of high consumption. Also, backup and support from power distributed through the national grid means it’s incredibly unlikely for a property connected to a wind turbine to ever run out of power. (Apt, 2007)
Wind turbines are also accused of providing great visual and noise pollution as a result of their large size and incredible noise produced by the constant use of the turbine. Despite this these turbines are most commonly placed in otherwise uninhabitable areas meaning often times they do not affect human life with their presence. Also in areas where wind farms coexist with a residential area compensation is paid to the residents who have to deal with them. (Wolsink, 1989).
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