Basics of Energy

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Basics

  • widely used fossil fuels
  • fluid mixture of hydrocarbons, H2O, sulfur: underground deposits
  • fluid nature makes ideal for mobile combustions (vehicles)
  • nonrenewable: fossil fuels take millions of years to form (remains of fossilized animals)

History

  • to make chemicals & plastics, asphalt/crude oil, synthetic materials
  • dates back to 1700s, 1840 first reported use of natural gas for manufacturing
  • 1848 standard oil controlled 90% of nation’s refining capacity/transportation fuel, heating, electricity

Advantage

  • ideal fuels for mobile consumption (Cars)
  • energy dense
  • cleaner-burning than coal

Disadvantage

  • releases CO2 when burned
  • when extracted/transported potential for oil to leak → can have harmful effects on humans & wildlife

How it works

  • liquid petroleum removed from ground: crude oil
  • must refine oil (boil it)
  • compounds taken out as soon as boiled (fractional distillation)

Cost

  • $50.04 per barrel (according to CNBC, Jan 5)

World consumption

  • U.S. uses over 10 million barrels per day
  • China & Japan also big users

Examples

  • In 2013, about 50% of the crude oil processed in U.S. refineries was imported

Where

  • locations where porous sedimentary rocks are capped (saudi arabia, iraq)

Future

  • according to current projections, we have 50 years max of petroleum reserves left → need to prep. alternative fuels

Facts

  • U.S. has 10th largest oil reserve in world
  • gasoline makes up 45% of crude oil

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Basics

  • Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. There are more than 500,000 active natural gas wells in the US.

History

  • Some 400 million years ago, thick shale deposits were forming as fine silt and clay particles at the bottom of bodies of water.
  • As plants and primitive animals died off, some of the methane gas created from the organic matter got buried with the sediments and seeped into sandy rock layers next to the shale rock, forming pockets of natural gas.
  • Some of that gas has remained locked in the shale layer, making it hard to bring up to the surface with traditional drilling. To access that gas, fracking has been used.

Where

  • Once a location has been selected for drilling, some from 4 to 6 acres of surface area will be leveled and cleared for drilling. The work site includes space for drilling equipment, a pit for drilling waste and an area for the massive amount of water to be used.
  • Fracking happens across much of the U.S., in states such as North Dakota, Arkansas, Texas, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. One state, Vermont, recently banned the practice, though it doesn’t have an active well being drilled.

Pros

  • There are enough fossil fuels “locked” in bedrock shale formations under North American soil to make the United States energy independent, and a net exporter of oil and gas, in the near future.
  • Tapping those energy sources would make the United States less dependent, economically and politically, on unstable countries such as Venezuela and the Middle East. It would also enable the West to be less dependent on Russian natural gas, which Vladimir Putin currently uses as a political lever.
  • The natural gas industry claims that fracking is safe because the shale formations lie far below the water table and pose a minimal threat to groundwater. They also claim that drilling for oil and gas is nothing new: we’ve been drilling for oil and gas for decades.
  • Using natural gas to heat our homes and power our cars releases far fewer carbon emissions than coal. Proponents describe the growing natural gas industry as an environmentally pragmatic “bridge fuel” that will buy time until we can harness the power of wind, solar and hydro on a mass scale.
  • In places like Kalkaska County, the oil and gas industry is big business, providing hundreds of jobs. Many of those contractor and subcontractor jobs are tied to fracking.

Cons

  • Because fracking involves pumping a concoction of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break apart the bedrock, environmentalists and private landowners worry that those chemicals could reach, and poison, the groundwater.
  • Companies are not required to disclose the chemicals they use, or the formula of the mixture, in the process. That makes it difficult for local residents, or first responders, to prepare for an accident or emergency, and difficult for scientists to gauge the threat posed by the chemicals.
  • In Michigan, as many as 35 million gallons of freshwater are removed from nearby aquifers per frack well — the highest rate in the nation. The Anglers of the Au Sable, a Michigan environmental conservation group, and others, worry that this will deplete freshwater sources and potentially dry up rivers and streams that are key to Michigan’s ecological health.
  • Water for fracking is typically transported to well sites using heavy trucks, which turn pristine rural areas into industrial highways. The fracking, itself, is conducted day and night, causing both noise and light pollution for some nearby residents.
  • The stakes are rising. According to environmental groups, energy company Encana’s push for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to allow “resource play hubs” (multiple drilling wells from the same site) could exponentially deplete the local water supply.

How it works

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into dense shale rock formations to crack the rock and release natural gas.

  1. A well is drilled vertically to the desired depth, then turns ninety degrees and continues horizontally for several thousand feet into the shale believed to contain the trapped natural gas.
  2. A mix of water, sand, and various chemicals is pumped into the well at high pressure in order to create fissures in the shale through which the gas can escape.
  3. Natural gas escapes through the fissures and is drawn back up the well to the surface, where it is processed, refined, and shipped to market.
  4. Wastewater (also called “flowback water” or “produced water”) returns to the surface after the fracking process is completed. In Michigan, this water is contained in steel tanks until it can be stored long-term by deep injection in oil and gas waste wells.

Cost

  • A 2011 study by the University of Pittsburgh found that the average cost of developing a well that utilized hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale was about $7.6 million in direct costs — compared with $4 million to $5 million for more traditional wells.

World consumption

  • To date hydraulic fracturing has been performed more than 1 million times in every oil and gas producing region in the country. It is estimated that of the existing wells in the United States hydraulic fracturing has been performed in more than 70% of them.

Examples

  • Causing earthquakes? The culprit of earthquakes near fracking sites is not believed to be the act of drilling and fracturing the shale itself, but rather the disposal wells. Disposal wells are the final resting place for used drilling fluid. These waste wells are located thousands of feet underground, encased in layers of concrete.

Future

  • 827 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or reserves, recoverable in the U.S. using the fracking process. According to the EIA, that represents about 36 years of current consumption. A previous estimate put it at 100 years.
  • shale gas share of U.S. natural gas production will continue to grow, reaching 45 percent of the total volume of gas produced by 2035.

Facts

  • Fracking, in and of itself, does not cause earthquake activity (or, for that matter, groundwater pollution or other harmful effects). But in some locations where fracking has taken place, there has been acoincidental increase in the number of earthquakes.

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Basics

  • Photovoltaic (PV) devices generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material, called semiconductors. Electrons in these materials are freed by solar energy and can be induced to travel through an electrical circuit, powering electrical devices or sending electricity to the grid.

History

  • The PV effect was observed as early as 1839 by Alexandre Edmund Becquerel, and was the subject of scientific inquiry through the early twentieth century. In 1954, Bell Labs in the U.S. introduced the first solar PV device that produced a useable amount of electricity, and by 1958, solar cells were being used in a variety of small-scale scientific and commercial applications.

Advantage

  • modular, where additional power generating capacity can readily be added.
  • last at least thirty years as typically there are no moving parts involved in electricity generation; consequently, they don’t create any noise pollution.
  • Photovoltaic conversion does not involve any polluting emissions, combustion, radioactivity, high temperature and pressure process or disposal or raw materials.
  • very short lead time for installation.
  • high rate of public acceptance and an excellent safety record.
  • green technology and has the potential to play a major role in controlling greenhouse gases and global warming.
  • Photovoltaic dustries create jobs in addition to energy, and help the economic development of societies.

Disadvantage

  • relatively high cost compared to many other large-scale electricity generating sources
  • Even though the sunlight reaching earth carries 6,000 times greater energy than the global requirement, the power density of sunlight is relatively low. This means that photovoltaics tends to be less suited for applications that are physically small compared to the energy they require.
  • output of photovoltaic systems is variable depending on the availability of solar radiation.
  • typically stored in batteries, which increases the costs and maintenance of such systems.
  • Photovoltaic modules are typically only 13-18% efficient; this low efficiency is one of the dominant causes for the high cost.

How it works

  • Photons strike and ionize semiconductor material on the solar panel, causing outer electrons to break free of their atomic bonds. Due to the semiconductor structure, the electrons are forced in one direction creating a flow of electrical current. •Solar cells are not 100% efficient in Diagram of a typical crystalline silicon solar cell. Solar cells are not 100% efficient in part because some of the light spectrum is reflected, some is too weak to create electricity (infrared) and some (ultraviolet) creates heat energy instead of electricity.

Cost

  • Rapidly falling prices have made solar more affordable than ever. The average price of a completed PV system has dropped by 33 percent since the beginning of 2011.

World consumption

  • PV represents at least 0.85%2 of the global electricity demand
  • United States: 12 GW, 4th most solar energy-using country

Examples

  • used to power anything from small electronics such as calculators and road signs up to homes and large commercial businesses

Where

  • Approximately 10,000 homes in the United States are run entirely on solar power.
  • Germany uses most photovoltaic power.

Future

  • 12 percent of EU energy demand by 2020
  • solar energy makes up just 1 percent of total installed electricity generation capacity in the EU, it accounted for 10 percent of the newly installed capacity for 2008. At such growth rates, which are lower than the astronomic growth that the industry experienced over the past decade, the 12 percent goal is a realistic one.

Facts

  • Approximately 66% of installed world solar PV power capacity has been installed in the past 2½ years.

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Basics

  • Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water.

History

  • In the late 19th century, hydropower became a source for generating electricity. The first hydroelectric power plant was built at Niagara Falls in 1879. In 1881, street lamps in the city of Niagara Falls were powered by hydropower. In 1882 the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operating in the United States in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Advantages to hydroelectric power:

  • Fuel is not burned so there is minimal pollution
  • Water to run the power plant is provided free by nature
  • Hydropower plays a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Relatively low operations and maintenance costs
  • The technology is reliable and proven over time
  • It’s renewable – rainfall renews the water in the reservoir, so the fuel is almost always there

Disadvantages to hydroelectric power:

  • High investment costs
  • Hydrology dependent (precipitation)
  • In some cases, inundation of land and wildlife habitat
  • In some cases, loss or modification of fish habitat
  • Fish entrainment or passage restriction
  • In some cases, changes in reservoir and stream water quality
  • In some cases, displacement of local populations

How it works

  • Water is needed to run a hydroelectric power-generating unit. The water is held behind a dam, forming an artificial lake, or reservoir. The force of the water being released from the reservoir through the dam spins the blades of a giant turbine.

Cost

  • 0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh).

World consumption

  • In 2013, hydropower represented 2.6 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States—lower than the level it reached in 2012
  • World: Hydropower represents 19% of total electricity production.

Examples

  • Electricity
  • Irrigation

Where

  • Places with flowing water supplies (ex. Hoover Dam → desert area), Japan, China

Future

  • Hydropower can be used to meet electricity requirements at times of fluctuating demand.

Facts

  • Hydropower is the least expensive renewable energy source in the USA.

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Basics

  • Wind is a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth’s surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth’s terrain, bodies of water, and vegetative cover. This wind flow, or motion energy, when “harvested” by modern wind turbines, can be used to generate electricity.

History

  • Windmills have been around for a long time, they were used in Persia (Iran) as far back as 200 B.C.

ADVANTAGES OF WIND POWER:

  1. The wind is free and with modern technology it can be captured efficiently.
  2. Once the wind turbine is built the energy it produces does not cause greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
  3. Although wind turbines can be very tall each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
  4. Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the landscape.
  5. Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.
  6. Wind turbines have a role to play in both the developed and third world.
  7. Wind turbines are available in a range of sizes which means a vast range of people and businesses can use them. Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.

DISADVANTAGES OF WIND POWER:

  1. The strength of the wind is not constant and it varies from zero to storm force. This means that wind turbines do not produce the same amount of electricity all the time. There will be times when they produce no electricity at all.
  2. Many people feel that the countryside should be left untouched, without these large structures being built. The landscape should left in its natural form for everyone to enjoy.
  3. Wind turbines are noisy. Each one can generate the same level of noise as a family car travelling at 70 mph.
  4. Many people see large wind turbines as unsightly structures and not pleasant or interesting to look at. They disfigure the countryside and are generally ugly.
  5. When wind turbines are being manufactured some pollution is produced. Therefore wind power does produce some pollution.
  6. Large wind farms are needed to provide entire communities with enough electricity. For example, the largest single turbine available today can only provide enough electricity for 475 homes, when running at full capacity. How many would be needed for a town of 100 000 people?

How it works

  • A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, a turbine uses wind to make electricity.
  • The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to a substation, then on to homes, business and schools.

Cost

  • The DOE Wind Technologies Market Report 2012 finds that “[T]he average levelized price of wind PPAs signed in 2011/2012—many of which were for projects built in 2012—fell to around $40/MWh nationwide, which rivals previous lows set back in the 2000–2005 period.”Power purchase agreements signed for wind energy projects during 2012 range from $31 to $84 per MWh, compared to a ranges of $44 to $99 per MWh in 2010.

World consumption

  • Wind produces about 4.1% of the energy used in the United States
  • In 1997 wind power generated only 0.1% of the world’s electricity, this increased to 1.5% in 2008 and 2.5% in 2010.

Examples

  • Wind energy can be used for anything from power on boats, battery charging, or electricity to be used commercially.
  • Wind energy is known to be used as early as 200 B.C.. Original windmills were used in the Middle East in areas such as what is now known as Iran, and areas in Afghanistan. These wind powered mills were used for anything from grinding grain, getting sugar,
  • In Europe, windmills were first seen in the 11th century.

Where

  • The majority of wind projects are located on private land, where the developer leases the land from the original landowner providing lease payments. After early stages of development, a developer will seek out a constract with a purchaser of electricity, raise capital from the finance markets, order wind turbines, and hire a specialized construction company to build the project. Once a project is built and delivering electricity to the power grid, a project owner or operator will maintain the project for its 20 to 30 year life.

Future

  • The wind energy industry is booming. Globally, generation more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006. At the end of last year, global capacity was more than 70,000 megawatts. In the energy-hungry United States, a single megawatt is enough electricity to power about 250 homes. Germany has the most installed wind energy capacity, followed by Spain, the United States, India, and Denmark. Development is also fast growing in France and China.
  • Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world’s electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind.

Facts

  • Wind turbines can be as tall as a 20-story building, with blades as long as a football field

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Basics

  1. Geothermal energy is the heat from the Earth. It’s clean and sustainable. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma.
  2. There are three geothermal power plant technologies being used to convert hydrothermal fluids to electricity: dry steam, flash steam and binary cycle. The type of conversion used (selected in development) depends on the state of the fluid (steam or water) and its temperature.

History

  • Archaeological evidence shows that the first human use of geothermal resources in North America occurred more than 10,000 years ago with the settlement of Paleo-Indians at hot springs. The springs served as a source of warmth and cleansing, their minerals as a source of healing. While people still soak in shallow pools heated by the earth, engineers are developing technologies that will allow us to probe more than 10 miles below the earth’s surface in search of geothermal energy.

Advantage

  • Renewable—Through proper reservoir management, the rate of energy extraction can be balanced with a reservoir’s natural heat recharge rate.
  • Baseload—Geothermal power plants produce electricity consistently, running 24 hours per day / 7 days per week, regardless of weather conditions.
  • Domestic—U.S. geothermal resources can be harnessed for power production without importing fuel.
  • Small Footprint—Geothermal power plants are compact; using less land per GWh (404 mi2) than coal (3642 mi2) wind (1335 mi2) or solar PV with center station (3237 mi2).*
  • Clean—Modern closed-loop geothermal power plants emit no greenhouse gasses; life cycle GHG emissions (50 g CO2 eq/kWhe) are four times less than solar PV, and six to 20 times lower than natural gas. Geothermal power plants consume less water on average over the lifetime energy output than the most conventional generation technologies.**

Disadvantage

  1. Not Widespread Source of Energy : Since this type of energy is not widely used therefore the unavailability of equipment, staff, infrastructure, training pose hindrance to the installation of geothermal plants across the globe. Not enough skilled manpower and availability of suitable build location pose serious problem in adopting geothermal energy globally.
  2. High Installation Costs : To get geothermal energy, requires installation of power plants, to get steam from deep within the earth and this require huge one time investment and require to hire a certified installer and skilled staff needs to be recruited and relocated to plant location. Moreover, electricity towers, stations need to set up to move the power from geothermal plant to consumer.
  3. Can Run Out Of Steam : Geothermal sites can run out of steam over a period of time due to drop in temperature or if too much water is injected to cool the rocks and this may result huge loss for the companies which have invested heavily in these plants. Due to this factor, companies have to do extensive initial research before setting up the plant.
  4. Suited To Particular Region : It is only suitable for regions which have hot rocks below the earth and can produce steam over a long period of time. For this great research is required which is done by the companies before setting up the plant and this initial cost runs up the bill in setting up the geothermal power plant. Some of these regions are near hilly areas or high up in mountains.
  5. May Release Harmful Gases : Geothermal sites may contain some poisonous gases and they can escape deep within the earth, through the holes drilled by the constructors. The geothermal plant must therefore be capable enough to contain these harmful and toxic gases.
  6. Transportation : Geothermal Energy can not be easily transported. Once the tapped energy is extracted, it can be only used in the surrounding areas. Other sources of energy like wood, coal or oil can be transported to residential areas but this is not a case with geothermal energy. Also, there is a fear of toxic substances getting released into the atmosphere.

How it works

  • Direct use of geothermal heat. Geothermal springs can also be used directly for heating purposes. Geothermal hot water is used to heat buildings, raise plants in greenhouses, dry out fish and crops, de-ice roads, improve oil recovery, aid in industrial processes like pasteurizing milk, and heat spas and water at fish farms.
  • Ground-source heat pumps. A much more conventional way to tap geothermal energy is by using geothermal heat pumps to provide heat and cooling to buildings. Also called ground-source heat pumps, they take advantage of the constant year-round temperature of about 50°F that is just a few feet below the ground’s surface. Either air or antifreeze liquid is pumped through pipes that are buried underground, and re-circulated into the building. In the summer, the liquid moves heat from the building into the ground. In the winter, it does the opposite, providing pre-warmed air and water to the heating system of the building.

Cost

  • At The Geysers, power is sold at $0.03 to $0.035 per kWh. A power plant built today would probably require about $0.05 per kWh. Some plants can charge more during peak demand periods.

World consumption

Examples

  1. We have currently utilized geothermal energy for use in heating homes. A large coil system full of water is placed in the shallow ground in the yard. The water circulates through this coil system and the Earth keeps it at a relatively stable temperature so it costs less energy to heat it for use in homes.
  2. Some power plants can utilize hot steam from vents in the Earth to power generators and create electricity.

Where

  • Hydrothermal resources – reservoirs of steam or hot water – are available primarily in the western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. However, Earth energy can be tapped almost anywhere with geothermal heat pumps and direct-use applications. Other enormous and world-wide geothermal resources – hot dry rock and magma, for example – are awaiting further technology development.

Future

  • Geothermal energy has the potential to play a significant role in moving the United States (and other regions of the world) toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy system. It is one of the few renewable energy technologies that can supply continuous, baseload power. Additionally, unlike coal and nuclear plants, binary geothermal plants can be used a flexible source of energy to balance the variable supply of renewable resources such as wind and solar. Binary plants have the capability to ramp production up and down multiple times each day, from 100 percent of nominal power down to a minimum of 10 percent [1].

Facts:

  • As of 2010, 24 countries around the world use geothermal power to generate electricity while around 70 use it for various forms of heating.
  • The oldest known spa fed from a hot spring is believed to be a stone pool found on Lisan Mountain in China, built in the 3rd century BC.

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