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Energy & Different Ways to Generate It

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Electricity: What Powers Our Planet
To Whom It May Concern:
It’s dark and you are trying to sign paperwork. You want to turn on the lights so you can see better. With one flick, the whole room illuminates. But, congressman, let me ask you. Have you ever wondered how electricity works? What is it that makes electricity possible? What did it take for light to have the ability to stream out of the light bulb? We take electricity for granted, but not many of us actually look into it. People often do not know how electricity is the way it is, but instead they see electricity as something that is very accessible and plentiful. So, congressman, you have the money, and I have the brains. You want to know how to spend the 200 billion? I’ll tell you.
Let’s start off with what electricity really is. You hear that word so many times in your daily life, but few have heard the scientific definition. Electricity is a type of energy produced from the existence of electrons or protons, either statically as a build-up of charge, or dynamically as a current. It is usually categorized into two different currents: alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Alternating current is a constant flow of electric charge that reverses its course from time to time. Direct current is the opposite; it only runs in one direction. Within those two currents are things such as volts, watts, amperes (or amps), and ohms. Volts are the SI unit of electromotive force, the distinction of potential that would force one ampere of current against one ohm resistance. A watt is also an SI unit, but unlike a volt, it is built upon power. One watt is equal to one joule per second, relating to the power of an electric circuit, where the potential difference is one volt and the current is one ampere. This brings us to our next definition: amps. An ampere (or amp) is a unit of electric current, and it is also equal to a flow of 1 coulomb per second. A coulomb is the SI unit for electric charge. It is equal to the amount of electricity shown in 1 second by a current of 1 ampere. An ohm is the SI unit of electrical resistance. Ohms express the resistance conveyed in a circuit sending out a current of 1 ampere when it is subjected to a potential difference of a single volt. However, have you ever wondered who invented electricity? Who set this impact on us? Although many people credit Benjamin Franklin for discovering what electricity is, it’s not technically true. He only helped show people the connection that lightning has with electricity, but he didn’t actually invent it. Electricity is a type of energy, and it’s part of nature, which in other words, cannot just be put into simple words of “invented”. The actual discovery of it is much more difficult than just a man who flew his kite. In about the era of the Ancient Greeks, they discovered that repeatedly rubbing animal fur against a fossilized tree resin (also known as amber) produced an attraction between both pieces. What they, in all reality, found out, was static electricity.
Now that we know most of the terms most commonly used to describe electricity and energy itself, let’s move on to the trends and popularly used different types of energy and multiple ways on how you can generate electricity using those sources of energy. Normally, in other parts of the United States and beyond, coal is considered to be the most popular and commonly used source of energy. By burning it, they can generate it easily. However, we live in California, and finding coal isn’t as easy for us as it is in other parts of the world. Consequently, we are one of the few states that rely on natural gas for energy and fuel. Instead of coal, we use natural gas. Although the supply of natural gas in the United States and production in the lower states excluding Hawaii and Alaska have greatly increased since 2008, California only produces very little of natural gas. On the other hand, we import 90 percent of natural gas. A big percent of the imports come from interstate pipelines originating from places such as the Rocky Mountains, Southwest, and even Canada. Due to the location of California, positioned at the near end of the southwestern interstate pipeline system, we are more susceptible to variation in transportation prices and disruptions in supply. Because of this, California has greatly increased both the gas storage capacity as well as the number of pipeline connections to out-of-state sources throughout the years. This provides access to more supply sources and also helps alleviates the impact of interference in supply or sudden price increases on any one pipeline or supply basin. We import a lot of natural gas in California and as a result of this, dispatchable natural gas-fired electric generation is the principle source of electricity and can account for almost 43 percent of a vast majority of the generation in California as of 2012. Conversely, as the rest of the nation including California continues to make every effort to integrate a higher percentage of energy (preferably renewable-derived sources) into electricity generation, the role of natural gas in California is very likely to change in the course of many years to come. Not only that, but the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station as well as the retirement of once-through cooling generation facilities in California will create a necessity of a replacement of the generation some of which will most likely come from a natural-gas fired generation but it is not yet decided. Aside from that, the insistent want for natural gas still continues to grow. There are many, many residential, commercial, industrial, and electrical demands. Not only does it power the light in our houses, but it also can be used as vehicle fuel and also for producing and transmitting it to consumers. Natural gas is something we use for activities that take part in our daily lives such as cooking, electricity, heating, industrial feedstock, and transportation. And by something, I mean that it is a versatile fossil fuel. What does that mean? It means that it is limited, because fossil fuels were here on Earth long before we even knew what it was. Limited means it can run out and we can’t use natural gas forever. That’s why you are all debating on an energy bill. Based on the information I have given you, natural gas is obviously not the best energy source.
Although it is not the most recommended energy source, I will explain to you how natural gas works, so you are more educated in the matter, and know what I am talking about when I say it’s not the best energy source. Natural gas is normally described as a product of organic matter; decomposed, of course. It usually comes from marine microorganisms deposited over the past 550 million years. This very ancient organic material is composed of silt, mud, and sand that increasingly becomes buried as time passes. A thermal breakdown process allows the organic matter to undergo a change and convert into something called hydrocarbons. Based off of organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is considered to be an organic compound composed only of carbon and hydrogen. It is exposed to gradual amounts of heat and pressure and is also sealed off so that there is no oxygen in the environment. As a result, the thermal breakdown process can carry through. Collectively, natural gas is also described as the lightest hydrocarbons under regular conditions. In the purest form of natural gas, it is a colorless gas that has no odor and is composed dominantly of methane. Methane is the simplest and lightest hydrocarbon and is an extremely flammable compound consisting of a single carbon atom surrounded by four hydrogen atoms. In other words (scientifically), it is CH4.
Once natural gas is formed, the behavior of it is dependent on the determination of two very important characteristics of the rock surrounding it: * Perosity: it refers to the amount of vacant space that the grains of a rock has/can have. Sandstones are an excellent example of highly porous rocks, typically because they have porosities of about five to twenty-five percent, which allows them large amounts of space where fluids such as water, oil, and gas can be stored. * Permeability: it is the measure of the degree in which pore spaces in a rock are interconnected with each other. Characteristics of a highly permeable rock can permit liquids and gas to flow easily through the rock. However, a low-permeability rock does not have the ability to let fluids to pass through.
After the formation of natural gas, it usually tends to rise closer to the surfaces through the pore spaces in the rock because it has a low density in comparison to the rock surrounding it. A vast majority of the natural gas deposits that we discover today occur where the natural gas happened to move into a highly permeable and porous underneath an impervious rock layer therefore resulting in being trapped before it reached the surface and escaped into the atmosphere.
Now, let’s talk about gas deposits. There are two types of them. There is conventional and unconventional.
Conventional:
* Commonly found in association with reservoirs of oil, either with the gas floating buoyantly on top of the oil or mixed in
Unconventional:
* Examples of unconventional sources are: * coalbed methane * shale gas * tight gas sandstone * Methane hydrates
It’s been pricier and more complex to exploit than most conventional deposits, so in result, the future for natural gas energy generation isn’t looking so bright. Despite the concerns for the environment related with the topic of extraction, production, and distribution, it is still a better way than burning oil and it burns cleaner than oil as well. Due to this, there are more advantages in improving the health of the public and reducing emissions; the emissions of which that contribute the big amount of global warming that is already occurring in our world. Additionally, new research produces the idea that leaking methane during the extraction and distribution while natural gas is formed may undermine the potential to lower the amount of global warming emissions by using natural gas instead of higher-carbon sources such as oil and coal. Phrased in a nutshell, natural gas is only a good source of energy if and only if emissions can be minimized, communities are protected, and public health is put into place.
Aside from natural gas as a source for energy, there are many, many others as well. One of the techniques is hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” and it is done by horizontal drilling. This technique lets domestic gas and oil production increase excessively over the past ten years. However, it has also raised new environmental concerns and questions about climate change, especially concerns from NIMBYs. NIMBYs is short for Not in My Back Yard. It is a word to generalize the people that don’t want this stuff done close to them because it could violate their health, such as in their community, because they are extremely concerned with the climate and public health issues. This is mainly because of the emission of dangerous gases and chemicals. Also, California is currently in a drought and there are enormous amounts of water used and the water is also increasingly contaminated by the earth layers but not only that, but also affected by the fracking chemicals. Cement used to protect ground water is also weakened as time goes by, especially if there is acid rain. There are also harmful gases to the respiratory system such as mercury and radon that come out of the formation of shale. In result of changing balance of forces in the formations of rock, induced seismicity, or little earthquakes may occur. Concerns relating to the politics of energy are things such as shale gas is not a replacement fuel but a transition fuel instead. A principle component of natural gas, or methane, is a greenhouse gas, considered pretty useless. Not many people know how much of an impact shale gas is making on the environment and climate change. Fracking works by creating fractures in the formation of shale to release the gas. In order to widen or create new fractures in the rock, there is a necessity for fracturing fluid to be pumped under high pressure into a drilling pipe. This could mean the strength of 100 bar. The fluid is usually consisting mostly of water. It’s also mixed with about three to twelve chemicals, usually in the amounts of one half or two percent and quartz sand. Because of this, it is not such a good idea to invest in fracking either.
Now, let us talk about tidal power. The potential for using tidal power as an energy source worldwide is about 700 TWh every year. Unfortunately, it’s still a new experiment and there is not that much information on it. As a result of that, tidal power is not a good competitor of fossil fuels. Here are some pros and cons of tidal power.
Pros:
* It is a renewable energy source, which means that it can be used over and over again. * It does not cost much, only money to set the system up and have people check on it from time to time to make sure it is functioning, so all the money you invest in it will be to pay people to set the structure up and take care of it * This energy source works because it is a part of nature: there are gravitational forces from both the moon and the sun and also the rotation of Earth * The sun, moon, rotation of the Earth will not be going away anytime soon so the tides will keep a steady flow * There are very few NIMBY concerns because it is a very green and environmentally-friendly source * No gases are emitted that are harmful to the climate and the environment and not a lot of space is taken up * Very highly predictable * There are very well-known cycles that involve high and low tides and that contributes to creating the correct measurements and to improve accuracy and precision * Turbines very similar to wind turbines so it’s very easy to construct * Tidal power plants are very durable and last for a very long time

Cons: * In result of not knowing a lot of information on tidal power plants, the environmental effects are not fully decided yet * They need to be close to the surface of the shore because technological solutions to problems are there * They need to be easily accessible because people cannot go that far to solve problems if things go wrong and usually the tides are not as strong * Research and experiments are expensive
Based on this information, tidal seems like a pretty good idea for an energy source, but still very hard to decide on because we know little about it unlike burning fossil fuels for energy, and it will take more money for research. Another way to generate electricity is by using hydroelectric ways. California produces a lot of hydroelectric electricity. In 2013, almost 24,075 GWh, or gigawatt-hours of hydroelectric electricity was produced. That’s 12.11% of the whole total number of the state’s system power! In other words, it’s a lot. Every year, the amount varies because hydroelectric electricity relies on rainfall and runoff from snowmelt. From 1983 to 2013, the average production span is 13,655.0 GWh (or gigawatt-hours). Usually, facilities under the 30 MW capacities is granted eligibility to be a source for renewable energy and considered as small hydro. The other facilities that do not fall under that catergory are referred to as large hydro. On a place called Oroville Dam, there is a facility by the name of Edward Hyatt Power Plant. Based on the information of the California Department of Water Resources, it was built below the lake of Oroville, stuck in the bedrock of the underground. The facility was dug out to be size of two football fields. In all the hydroelectric facilities in California, the E.H.P.P is addressed as the fourth largest energy producer in the entire state. Hydroelectricity works by turning a turbine, or something that looks like a propeller. For this case, a power source is required to move it. A turbine moves the metal shaft in an electric generator. The motor in the generator is what produces the electricity. Steam that is generated is used to turn the blades in a turbine in a power plant that is run by coal. However, in a hydroelectric power plant, falling water spins the turbine and both results (the coal strategy and hydroelectric strategy) are the same. The only difference is, one is more environmentally friendly than the other and does not emit dangerous gases into the atmosphere like coal does. Also, it requires no extra force to keep it going. To produce energy hydroelectrically, you must locate a piece of land that is a river and has a very sudden drop in elevation. Then, you build a dam and lots of water is stored behind it, in a reservoir. There should be water intake close to the very bottom of the dam wall. Due to the laws of science, gravity is what makes the water fall through the penstock, located inside the dam. A turbine propeller, powered by moving water, is located at the end of the penstock. The energy is produced when a shaft goes into the generator. Usually, to transport this energy, power lines are connected to the generator so that you and me can use it in our homes. The leftover water goes farther away from the propeller and the dam and goes straight into the river. Using hydroelectricity is a good source of energy to invest money into, and it can really benefit our planet, physically, geographically, and economically. If you’ve ever really studied a map carefully, you would know that the state of California is located on the “ring of fire” on the Pacific side. Due to tectonic plate conjunctions, the largest amount of electric geothermal generation in the nation goes to California. According to a report written by the government, in 2013, 12,485 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy created by geothermal strategies was made in California. Added with an additional 700 GWh from imports, 6.28% of California’s energy came from geothermal generation. As of now, there are still about forty-three geothermal power plants that are operating in California. All of them have installed capacities of about 2,634 megawatts. In all of the geothermal plants in California, the largest one is near North San Francisco called the Geysers Geothermal Resource Area. The power plant has been running since the late 1960s and is still operating today. One special thing about this power plant is that it uses dry steam, an d only two places in the whole world use that resource. The word “geothermal” comes from Greek vocabulary: geo, meaning “earth” and therme, meaning “heat”. Based off of those two words, you can basically figure out how geothermal electricity works. There are very hot rocks in the core of our Earth and geothermal is derived from that. Water is poured onto those hot rocks to produce steam. Once steam is made, it can power the turbines that can then generate the electricity you need. The water comes from geothermal reservoirs under the Earth’s surface.
Ways to use Geothermal Generation: * Direct geothermal energy: Hot water from hot springs/geothermal reservoirs beneath the surface of the Earth can be directly connected to heat homes, etc. Then, the water is recycled by traveling down a well and going back down underground to be reheated repeatedly so it can be used to heat homes again. * Geothermal heat pump: soil/water underground is about fifty to sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Fluids circulate through loops, or underground series of pipes. A heat exchanger or electric compressor absorbs heat stored in the pipes and send it through the building via a duct. * Geothermal power plant: underground steam & hot water can generate electricity in power plants. There are 3 dissimilar power plants that use geothermal methods: * Dry steam plants: hot steam goes directly from the reservoirs underground to power plant generators and electricity is generated when turbines spin by steam * Flash steam plants: water in the range of three hundred to seven hundred degrees Fahrenheit transports through wells and steam produced allows turbines to spin. After steam condenses (due to the water cycle), it goes back to the earth * Binary cycle plants: slightly scorching water flows through a machine called a heat exchanger and becomes a liquid (like isobutene) and the boiling temperature of it is lower than water. When that water is heated, it becomes a gas, which in this case, is steam and turns the turbine propeller blades
After reading most of these, you might think, what about solar energy? Isn’t solar power very popular nowadays? Solar panels are now placed on top of roofs to help create electricity used in homes, but in true honesty, you cannot fully depend on solar power. Solar power relies on sunlight, and there is not always sunlight. In California, however, solar electricity is placed into two categories: * Solar thermal: which is, using concentrated heat from sunlight to condense a fluid (water, in most cases) to produce steam. With steam, you can move the turbines that produce electricity. It can also be done with a generator. * Solar photovoltaic: direct transformation of sunlight into electricity; a majority of PV electricity isn’t totaled in the entire electricity production in utility companies mainly because there are solar panels that are mounted on the businesses or homes
Most of the solar thermal energy generation facilities are mostly in the area of the Mojave Desert area in the state. The amount of electricity produced from solar thermal energy was a total amount of 4,291 GWh, or gigawatt-hours, in the state. That’s 2.16% of California’s total electricity production! The good thing about solar thermal energy is that it is organic, and that means that there is no carbon in it! It’s also renewable and a good alternative to the method that is most popular today: burning fossil fuels, such as gas and coal. There are two differentiating ways that energy can be made from the sun. These two ways are called solar photovoltaic (PV) or concentrating solar thermal (CST) or in those words, concentrating solar power (CSP). Solar photovoltaic works best in machines that need to be powered, such as watches and backpacks. Even sunglasses could be included, in some cases. They also provide energy in very isolated areas. On the other hand, solar thermal is way larger-scaled when both energy technologies are put into comparison. A big difference is that solar thermal generates electricity indirectly from the sun, but photovoltaic does it directly, the opposite. In solar thermal, heat from sun rays boils the water. Steam that is derived from the water powers a generator, which in return gives you electricity. This is different and way better for the environment instead of the way we do it with fossil fuels because instead of using the combustion of them to produce steam, heat is collected to produce the steam: a cleaner, healthier, and more effective way. Within the method of using solar thermal generation, there are two other categories in it: active and passive. The difference between these two is that passive does not need any sort or type of equipment. Think of it like this: on a hot day, the windows are rolled up and you are inside a car waiting for your parents to finish shopping at the grocery store. The heat in the car builds up when it’s left under the strong, heated rays of the sun. You didn’t need to use any material or tool to make this happen, it was science and the ways things are. However, an active system needs more things to help it absorb and not only that, but it also needs to gather lots of solar radiation and find a space so it can store it. At most times, usually solar thermal plants are using active systems, but within all the different types that there are, a couple things stand true. This is the basic outline of the processes of these plants. Ever since centuries ago, we have discovered the magic of the mirror. We have learned that mirrors can reflect light, and although the beam of light may not be where you want it to be, mirrors can reflect it and adjust it to where you would like it to go. Using this concept, solar thermal power plants use mirrors to collect and reflect light rays coming directly from the sun into receivers that don’t just collect but also transform it into heat energy as well. This solar thermal active type is indirect, unlike photovoltaic because although sun rays are going directly to the mirror, it is not going directly into the receivers that convert it into the energy that people can and need to use. It needs to go pass the mirrors so that the energy can be converted. Most popular types of solar thermal plants, even ones in the Mojave desert have something called a linear concentrator systems. These collectors use a design of something called a parabolic trough, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, usually the largest concentrator systems can generate about 80 megawatts of electricity! It is shaped such like a half-pipe on a skateboard or like a snowboard and have reflectors in the parabolic shapes. On those reflectors have almost 1 million mirrors on them, aligned in a north-south direction, so that they can pivot to where the sun is, as it travels from the east to the west in the sky. Due to the parabolic shape, they can handle very, very high temperatures even while operating and can also intensify the usual by 30-100 times! Because of that, the pipes are more concentrated on, and the water is evaporated faster and the whole system is sped up. The steam spins turbines, and that is how electricity is generated using solar thermal. The second type of solar thermal systems is called solar power tower systems. A large number (maybe even thousands) of flat and large mirrors that track the sun called heliostats are dependent on power towers. They focus on the sun’s radiation by a single-mounted receiver. Similar to parabolic troughs, the water is heated by the rays in the receiver to be converted into steam and used to power the turbines in order to generate electricity. The last kind of solar thermal system is the solar dish, or also known as the solar engine. In comparison to the other types of the systems (such as towers that contain power and the parabolic trough), these are fairly small producers. They only produce to about 3-25 kilowatts. Two primary components make up this system: the solar dish (the concentrator) and the power conversion unit (generator or engine). Then, the dish is directed at the sun to absorb the sun’s energy. It can concentrate on the energy to close to 2000 times. A bunch of tubes, overflowing with fluids like helium or even hydrogen branches out between the engine and the dish. These tubes are referred to as the thermal receiver. The receiver collects the concentrated energy from the sun and turns it into heat. After the heat is made, it becomes electricity. Since 2010, nuclear energy has given California about 14% of all their electricity mix. That means that it also includes out-of-state imports. California has one functioning nuclear power plant in the Canyon of Diablo, and it creates about 2,160 megawatts. The power plant is close to San Luis Obispo, and is close to the ocean. That is how they cool off their rods. There used to be a nuclear power plant between Los Angeles and San Diego, but it was forcibly shut down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Tubing wear issues were discussed, but then in the end, the units were to remain retired, so now we only have one operating power plant. Nuclear power works by uranium. Uranium is very rare, but is a very powerful element that naturally occurs in places such as Canada, South Africa, and Australia. It can even be found in the Rocky Mountains. The question is: what do you need to produce a chain reaction to generate electricity? The answer is three elements, referred to as being “heavy”. You need plutonium and also two forms of uranium. Heat is created as a result of the chain reaction, and that boils water. When you boil water, steam occurs, and steam is a natural “activation” product. It helps turn turbines and turning turbines = generating electricity. Unfortunately, uranium can run out, and it is not renewable either. In this case, it is similar to what we use most of now: fossil fuels. As of right now, there’s more than 100+ of nuclear power plants in over 33+ states, but the number is predicted to stay the same for a long time, considering it’s a risky task to build nuclear factories and costly as well. In a recent report, there haven’t been any new nuclear plant orders in over twenty years. Environmental impacts of nuclear energy are pretty good because nuclear energy technically does not emit any indigenous pollutants of air, mainly caused by power generation. However, when there’s a need for uranium to be procured in a process, there are dangerous gases that are let out in every single stage of the process. Nuclear plants have the ability to release a little bit of isotopes such as iodine-131 and carbon-14. To be able to help a nuclear power plant function, the uranium used needs to be purified and enriched. Although the actual generation of the electricity does not release any bad gases that are harmful to the environment, the process of helping it function does. Tons and tons of electricity is needed to enrich uranium, and the electricity comes from filthy fossil fuels (the same thing that we’ve tried to avoid using). The process of that releases harmful air. Also, after it is done, the power plant is immensely at high temperatures. You need a ton of water capacity to be able to cool it down after the processes have passed through. That is why our nuclear power plant in California is needed to be close the ocean. Nuclear power plants require almost about two and a half more water than burning fossil fuels. Therefore, change and effect of marine life, resources from aquatic places, and water is greatly increased because of nuclear power plants. One bad thing about using nuclear generation to make electricity is that if someone steps out of line and makes a small mistake, everything could go wrong and everyone working there would be in danger. If there is failure in the cooling system, the rods could melt and demolish itself in seconds and along with melt anything that is can come in contact with, and let’s hope it’s not near any harmful chemicals when it does, because that could affect everyone near the perimeter. Accidents such as those could end with deaths of many people, large numbers, most of the time. Uranium atoms split, and if you haven’t heard, it is immensely difficult to split any kind or any type of element. Elements are supposed to be stripped to the bare minimum, but it’s not. When the uranium atoms split, it releases a big amount of energy and the energy is then used to create steam. Just like the past ways of how to generate electricity, steam helps turn turbines. The turbines help generate the electricity we all need to use, in our homes or buildings. PWRs, or also known as pressurized water reactors, keep the water from boiling, but so that it heats just right. They do this by applying pressure onto it, hence the name. For the past centuries, we have been trying to generate electricity using the resources that we have been provided with, such as fossil fuels, the sun itself, and even trying to use things that we produce, such as landfill trash. Now, let us discuss how to generate electricity with wind. When you think of generating energy with wind, do you think of those windmills at Livermore? If you do, you are one step closer to understanding what wind generation is and what it does. Wind cannot be exhausted, and for the effect, it can be renewed over and over again. In all honesty, wind power generation is the fastest growing technology in the entire world. The reports of 2013 also agree so. Not only is it the fastest to grow, but it is very cheap to produce, even in the market. Actually, there are reports that suggest that wind power may just get gradually lower and lower (cheaper than it is now) and will soon become the cheapest way to produce electricity as of 2020. Even the environmental concerns of NIMBYs are not plentiful. Wind power does not release any harmful gases into the environment and it does not use any water so there is no need to use any of those resources. Also, the material required to start is not like nuclear power generation, which requires uranium. There is no need to break up our earth to find the elements needed to active it. The only impacts it could possibly make on the environment is on noise, habitats for animals, and visual impacts. When windmills are built, some people may not like the way it looks. They may complain that it is a big pinwheel-like machine in their property, and want to have it taken down. Also, the noise produced from generating the electricity may bother some people whose homes and properties lie close the windmills or turbines. To build windmills or turbines, land needs to be taken up, and as a result of that, animals will lose their homes and will need to venture off. Many habitats will be destroyed in the making and building of materials needed to generate energy using the methods of wind power. Where will the animals that have just lost their homes go? Possibly to the people living nearby, and that’s not such a good thing. No one wants a frog in their dinner. Although wind power may have the cheapest produce price and the least environmental impact (in competition with tidal power), it cannot be fully depended on mainly because wind comes when it wants to, but we need to use electricity all the time. We cannot just “stop” using electricity when the wind is not blowing. This creates a problem. However, it’s not a bad idea to invest some money in this area to find out a way if we can predict the wind routes and when it averagely blows in a certain area so we can find a way to control our use and how the windmills and turbines work. Another way to produce energy is called biomass. Biomass comes from using many wastes from wood, food, and agriculture. They can also come from fuel crops that are especially reserved to be used for electricity generation. If you gave trees time to grow, considering this, biomass could be considered renewable. Also, it is good for the environment, because burning waste could potentially clear the stuff that no one uses, and also leave some landfill space for things that cannot be burned for electricity. No one needs sewage, crop residues, or even manure from animals, so burning it for electricity could be a good thing. As of now, our modern biomass plants burn waste from wood—lumber, and other things such as leftovers from demolition or construction. During the process of Direct Combustion, fuel from biomass is boiled straight into the boilers and the steam that is produced after boiling is then used to generate the same generators that fossil fuels use to produce electricity. Biomass is transformed into methane; it can fuel cells, generators, or turbines in biomass gasification. In modern times, biomass can burn the 2nd largest amount of renewable energy in the nation. That’s about 11,000 MW, or megawatts! However, there is a high NOx rate of emission because there is high nitrogen content. Also, carbon monoxide, or CO is also emitted. More of it is released into the atmosphere than some coal plants. Those are some NIMBY concerns. However, biomass helps gradually lessen the amount of wood waste, which also helps reduce the amount of methane emission and other greenhouse gases. After reading about electricity and how it greatly influences our planet, I recommend that it is best if you invest 150 billion in wind power, to do further research of it and gain a better understanding of it so we can improve, and also invest the remaining 50 billion into nuclear power, because we have the resources here in California and it’s more effective. Although there are flaws in all of the power generating strategies, I think these two will be the best use of your money.
Sincerely,
Your Science Aide

Bibliography http://www.powerscorecard.org/tech_detail.cfm?resource_id=8 http://www.universetoday.com/82402/who-discovered-electricity/ http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/naturalgas/ http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/how-natural-gas-works.html http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/education/1316813/What_is_Shale_Gas_How_Does_Fracking_Work.html http://energyinformative.org/tidal-energy-pros-and-cons/ http://water.usgs.gov/edu/hyhowworks.html http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-tech/energy-production/solar-thermal-power1.htm…...

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