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Brenden Evans

Professor Cynthia Richardson

English Composition 1201

19 March 2019

Why We Need to Switch From Non-Renewable Sources of Energy

As we advance into this world, there is always something that has been the same, and that

would be our energy resources. Coal for the past of one hundred years has almost always been

where we got our energy from. With newer research and new effects, we have had in our

environment show that we can not keep using the same energy resources or it may cause

irreversible impacts on our planet. We know about all different forms of energy and how it

produces it but why are we no using it over coal?

The government is always working on newer and better ways to improve our energy

production with all of our current forms and even more modern forms that are also safer and

cleaner for the environment. The government now is continuously trying to improve the batteries

that we have and use because of the rapid rise in electric cars, and by them improving batteries

they can help improve upon the carbon emissions in the atmosphere. They are also enhancing

cells by trying to make them stronger, and longer lasting, “Improving this type of energy storage

technology will have dramatic impacts on the way Americans travel and the ability to

incorporate renewable energy into the nation’s electric grid” (DOE). The improvement of

batteries will not only help our daily lives, but it also will increase the effectiveness of all other

forms of energy production


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Hydrogen is also a newer idea on how they can make energy, and with it being a very

clean source it has been a larger focus to clean renewable energy so that they can hopefully move

away from the other not clean sources of energy. What they are doing with hydrogen is putting

hydrogen inside of fuel cells to create the energy that they need. With it using hydrogen as well it

makes no harmful by-products, and it doesn’t use combustion in order to make it work,

“Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to generate power using a chemical reaction rather than

combustion, producing only water and heat as byproducts” (DOE). With this form on an uprise,

it could start to help topple the empire that coal has built for itself over these past hundred years

or so. It also could be used in our vehicles in the future, so that not only electric, but we could

have hydrogen cars producing zero carbon emissions. Hydrogen fuel cells, whenever they are

improved upon and can be used for consumer use, can quickly clean up a large portion of our

carbon emissions because of how clean it is and with its bi-products being mostly water.

As one of the most tremendous problems with renewable energy being its cost, it is a safe bet to

assume that that is not as much as an issue as it was and will only get better the more it is

focused on. In fact, in one case the renewable energy form of onshore solar has passed coal and

have just caught Gas Combined Cycle in its cost to run. The price between Gas Combined Cycle

and onshore solar being different by about twenty dollars per kilowatt hour and it has passed coal

by about fifty dollars per kilowatt hour, “Onshore wind has the lowest average levelized cost in

this analysis at $59 per megawatt-hour...the lowest cost conventional technologies were gas

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combined cycle technologies, averaging $74 per megawatt-hour, and coal plants, averaging

$109” (Energy Innovation). This itself shows that within the span of a few years we can go from

renewable energy is way too expensive and inefficient to use, and now it is a reliable and

relatively cheap to use.

Even if one source of energy is shown to be cheaper and easier to use we still need more

references to join this group because we cannot have one source of renewable energy be less

expensive in order to remove all uses of non-renewable energy from our economy. Geothermal

energy costs about one-hundred and sixteen dollars per kilowatt hour in order to run. Nuclear

power in comparison costs about one-hundred and thirteen dollars per kilowatt hour.

Nevertheless, there are some extremely expensive non-renewable sources such as diesel

generators which cost around three-hundred and sixteen dollars per kilowatt hour while the most

expensive renewable source being battery storage costing around two-hundred and ninety-five

dollars per kilowatt hour. The information also shows how much progress towards clean energy

sources we have made is, “the average cost of onshore wind has fallen from $135 per megawatt-

hour in 2009 to $59 in 2014” (Energy Innovation). This is a significant example of how the

constant focus and work for safer and cleaner sources of energy has improved the overall cost

and production of renewable energy.

There are still many things that need to go into question today when they make new

power plants and what is going to be the source of creating energy that they can do. With the

way

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that renewable sources work is that they have to be placed in the best possible location to be as

efficient as they can, for example, a solar array cannot be set next to a mountain where it only

gets sunlight a quarter of the day. Another issue is if the cost of creating one is super expensive

how long do they have to last and how much do they need to save to

Make it either profitable or at least justified to run. If a solar array, or wind farm, or any

other form of renewable energy can save as much of its initial cost of creating in its expected life

span then it would be a good investment, “If the array costs $10,000 and lasts 25 years, will you

save more than $10,000 (plus interest) on your electric bill over that 25 years? If the answer is

yes, then put up the array” (Lombardo). That is one major factor in why renewable sources like

wind and solar are better than coal or gas plants because they have a little cost of upkeep to keep

them running compared to coal and gas which they have to buy either the fuel or gas to continue

production.

There are many ways that this can be done and the most common methods are using

LCOE and LACE and comparing the two. LCOE stands for Levelized Cost of Energy, and it is a

unit of measurement, and it resembles the cost of energy generation with how much it is

expected to output in its life. LACE stands for Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy, and it shows

how much energy production can be improved by adding renewable sources, “quantifies the

potential revenue that can be earned by adding renewable energy sources rather than buying

power from other grid sources” (Lombardo). Using these two together you are able to tell how

much each form will do and if it is cost effective to add the more expensive renewable sources

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instead of keeping with the regular forms of production, “When LACE > LCOE, it’s better to

invest in the renewable source.” However with a result of not everything being as cost-efficient
as many might think some states or entire regions may not be best suited for the conversion just

yet.

Despite how much we have made progress within the past few years it is still very

apparent that our focus is still not entirely pointed in the direction of renewable energy. No

Matter how close we may be or even how much effort we have put into it non-renewable sources

still dominate the world because, for the most part, they are all still easier to acquire and make.

With the increase in renewable resources coal and other resources still lead the way in energy

production by a substantial margin, “Renewable energy contributes only 12.2 percent to total

energy consumption in the United States, a proportion that has barely shifted since the turn of the

century” (Wu). This shows us that there has been an effort but either it gets downplayed by the

tremendous energy producers or that it just is not an adequate and sustainable enough form of

energy to be used as much as it may need to be.

With how much we have been using Coal and other non-renewables it is almost at a

critical point that we start switch to as much cleaner and renewable sources as we can because

how much our environment is getting impacted. There have been bills in the past that increase

our use in renewable and clean energy sources that either no longer are in effect or didn’t pass,

“Under the Clean Power Plan, the country would have to reduce its CO2 releases by 32% by

2030” (Krishnamurthi). Nevertheless, even renewable sources have large issues with them

regarding the environment, wind turbines tend to be loud and often kill many birds, solar farms

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destroy large areas and generate tons of head harming its surrounding ecosystem, ““there are

noise and flicker effects of wind turbines” and “there is wildlife destruction caused by the
production of renewable power.”” (Wu). However, these energy producers with their problems

do outway the risks of leaving our coal and other alike generators running causing some natural

disasters and other problems such as the polar ice caps melting and raising the height of the

ocean.

Throughout the years there have been considerable changes in all forms of energy some

of the largest being coal and hydroelectric. Fossils fuels have had a massive difference

throughout the years in its production use, “n 1908, fossil fuels accounted for 85% of total

consumption. When the Indians won the World Series in 1948, that share had increased to 91%,

as petroleum and natural gas had begun to account for increasing amounts of energy

consumption. Fossil fuel consumption has fallen in recent years, accounting for 81% of total

consumption in 2015” (EIA). This has shown that even though there has always been

considerable use of coal power but in the past seventy years but more so in the past fifteen years

had we started moving away from coal power and onto other forms. Coal is currently at the

lowest it has ever been and will only continue to decline in use. With this decline hopefully

within the next ten years or so we will see a lot more cleaner, and renewable sources of energy.

With there being less and less coal at varying amounts but the rates for petroleum had decreased

at a fairly steady price. Biomass has had a decrease as well while nuclear has had about a similar

change but increasing growth within the past twenty years. Using renewable resources to power

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things is however not a newer concept, for example, windmills or water wheels would spin an

object to crush grain for farmers on their property to make bread. In fact, there are some

renewable resources that have had less use since 1908 but many others have in fact increased in
use, “nonhydro renewable share of total energy consumption is lower than in 1908, solar and

wind generation continues to increase and make up a large percentage of total nonhydro

renewables” (EIA). This shows that these other forms were not able to keep up with the demands

of the ever so changing world and its electrical needs that it has slowly gotten more void while

the other forms such as solar, wind, and hydro have all increased in their uses through the years.

The government is always working on newer and better ways to improve our energy

production with all of our current forms and even more modern forms that are also safer and

cleaner for the environment. The government now is continuously trying to improve the batteries

that we have and use because of the rapid rise in electric cars, and by them improving batteries

they can help improve upon the carbon emissions in the atmosphere. They are also enhancing

cells by trying to make them stronger, and longer lasting, “Improving this type of energy storage

technology will have dramatic impacts on the way Americans travel and the ability to

incorporate renewable energy into the nation’s electric grid” (DOE). The improvement of

batteries will not only help our daily lives, but it also will increase the effectiveness of all other

forms of energy production

Hydrogen is also a newer idea on how they can make energy, and with it being a very clean

source it has been a larger focus to clean renewable energy so that they can hopefully move away

from the other not clean sources of energy. What they are doing with hydrogen is putting

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hydrogen inside of fuel cells to create the energy that they need. With it using hydrogen as well it

makes no harmful by-products, and it doesn’t use combustion in order to make it work,

“Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to generate power using a chemical reaction rather than
combustion, producing only water and heat as byproducts” (DOE). With this form on an uprise,

it could start to help topple the empire that coal has built for itself over these past hundred years

or so. It also could be used in our vehicles in the future, so that not only electric but we could

have

Hydrogen cars producing zero carbon emissions. Hydrogen fuel cells, whenever they are

improved upon and are able to be used for consumer use, can quickly clean up a large portion of

our carbon emissions because of how clean it is and with its bi-products being mostly water. This

was allowing this kind of energy being safe enough that it can be used with reasonably little

drawbacks to it.

Coal power is one of the biggest and most powerful industries there are in the world.

With there are around three hundred and forty thousand workers within the united states that

work in a coal-related business and with the complete removal of that entire industry will create

many job openings that may not be filled very fast because the other sources of energy will not

need people that have to mine the coal, transport it, and the upkeep of the factories itself may not

need as much work on a day to day basis. Within the span of eight years, we have dropped from

there being five-hundred and eighty coal powered pants to us dropping down by two-hundred

and thirty plants to only having three-hundred, and fifty left, “In 2010, the United States had 580

coal-fired power plants providing 45% of the nation’s electricity. By March 2018, the number of

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plants had fallen below 350 and coal’s market share had dropped to 30%” (Count On Coal). This

number is expected to keep decreasing continuously causing more and more issues within the job

market in the united states. It is already anticipated that we will lose at least forty more coal
powered plants in the united states by 2025 and that is without any possible future bills or laws

requiring more.

However coal may be a huge industry, there is one power resource that outmatches it, and

that would be natural gas. If we are to also loose natural gas as a source of energy it will

Open up almost the same amount of jobs that are lost from coal. Other energy producers

wouldn’t be able to produce as many jobs as would be lost. The switchover from these kinds of

plants are also causing huge financial problems because some plants are being shut down before

they can make their money back because of government deals or newer laws being put into

effect. The third most used and productive being nuclear energy has also been diminishing in use

regardless of its outputs being cleaner than the other sources of energy that we use.

Without us switching over to renewable resources as our primary source of energy we

will eventually cause irreversible changes to our world. These changes could include flooding of

some of the world's largest cities due to the melting of the polar ice caps or possibly the

extinction of some of the animals of the world. This, however, may seem like a straightforward

thing to do but it ultimately is going to be a difficult thing to stop in the long run because of how

important coal and natural gas is to our world and economic. There has been for a long time now

constant work on trying to improve upon coal energy with things like “The Clean Air Act of

1963” by requiring filters and other measures to dampen the effect, but they have all been more

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or less put off the issue until more recent times. There has also been constant work to improve

upon renewable sources like solar and wind by increasing their effectiveness and reducing the

cost to produce each type. These efforts have helped and have been lowering the use and

necessity of coal-powered plants, and they have also been helping to make everybody's day to
day car safer and cleaner to use in the environment. With this in mind nuclear itself being a very

clean source of energy is also dying out because of the lousy history it has with melting down.

Throughout this assignment, I have learned that there are issues with both; however, they

are very different. With our non-renewable resources they cause a lot more environmental

concerns over a long period due to the carbon emissions they let off. Renewable resources do

cause ecological issues, but they are not for more extended periods, they also will cause a

problem with the job market because of the loss of jobs from the coal and gas plants. I do think

that we need to switch over to these sooner rather than later to try and reverse the effects on our

environment that have been caused so far.

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Solar Power | Energy Central, www.energycentral.com/c/ec/fundamental-limitations-renewable-

energy.

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By 2020, Report Claims.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Jan. 2018,

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2020/#59b2ab9a4ff2.
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12 Nov. 2014, large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/krishnamurthi1/.

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