It is important to note that today; the main sources of energy used in the United States can be categorized into three. This includes nuclear power, renewable energy sources as well as fossil fuels. However, with each energy source, there is an assigned problem that ranges from safety, reliability to pollution.
When it comes to fossil fuels, we have natural gas, oil as well as coal whose burning informs energy release. According to Bowen (2009), fossil fuels constitute sources of energy that are essentially non-renewable as they are categorized under finite resources. Solway (2009) notes that close to 85% of the energy consumed in the U.S comes from fossil fuels. The pollutants released by burnt up fossil fuels include but are not in any way limited to carbon dioxide and their impact on the environment cannot be overstated. It is these pollutants that enhance global warming and climate change.
Renewable energy sources
Though it has been noted that renewable energy sources cannot be relied upon as they end up informing power grids strains when the demand is high, they continue to be used (to some extent) as primary sources of electrical energy generation in the United States. For example, in periods when there is no sunlight or wind, the production of solar energy as well as wind power is never possible. According to Bowen (2009), 11% of the domestically produced electricity in the United States today comes from renewable energy. The problem associated with the renewable power sources include environmental concerns which arise during the development stages of the sources of renewable energy. For instance, Bledsoe (2004) is of the opinion that rivers have to be blocked to make the use of hydroelectric power possible. This informs negative ecological impacts with disastrous consequences including but not in any way limited to enhanced food risks in some localities.
According to Solway (2009), of the worlds energy supply, nuclear power contributes close to 11% of the same. Uranium is the main raw material used to generate nuclear power. However, scientists and environmentalists have over time been up in arms against nuclear power due to its waste products which they term dangerous and extremely toxic. Indeed, it takes thousands of years to detoxify such waste products and ensure that the radioactivity they contain is maintained at a safe level. Further, the cost of enhancing nuclear power safety is often prohibitive and a small mishap can inform a disaster with dire consequences. A perfect example of this is the Chernobyl disaster.
Primary source of transportation energy in the United States
Petroleum it is important to note that petroleum has come to be recognized as a plastics source and in that regard; it has widely been used as a source of energy for purposes of powering a number of industrial processes and according to Solway (2009), about 85% of the United States oil consumption comes from transportation fuels. In that regard, as a transportation fuel, oil has some specific qualities which are unique including but not limited to a lower production cost as well as energy content. This essentially makes it extremely difficult to supplement oil as the main/primary source of energy in the United States.
As per the year 2008, the US consumption in PWh as far as oil is concerned was 12.71. Essentially, according to Bledsoe (2004), the oil consumption per day in the United States stands at twenty one thousand barrels a day. But a vast amount of the oil consumed in the United States is imported and as per 2008 estimates, importing oil costs close to $400 billion every year. The increasing over-reliance on oil and the prohibitive costs of importing the same has made some scholars call for consideration of long-term energy solutions. Ii is however important to note that in the recent past, there have been some drilling efforts most notably at the Alaska, West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Continental Shelf.
Problems associated with oil as a source of energy
It is important to note that oil contains vast amounts of hydrogen and carbon. When oil is burnt during usage it initiates a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and the carbon which is its one of its main constituents. The hydrogen component combines with oxygen in the air to form vapor. The problem herein lies within the carbon dioxide which is essentially the by product of oxygen and hydrogen. This is what informs the greenhouse effect. The release of greenhouse gasses including carbon dioxide has been lamed for a number of environmental problems including but not in any way limited to enhanced global warming and climate change.
Further, it can be noted that oil contains sulfur though in small quantities. When combustion takes place, sulfur dioxide is produced as a result of the combination between oxygen and sulfur. The sulfur dioxide which is formed in this case has been named as a primary acid drain contributor.
Bowen, R. (2009). Energy Sources: The Impact of Science and Technology. Gareth Stevens Publishing
Solway, A. (2009). Renewable Energy Sources. Heinemann/Raintree
Bledsoe, K.E. (2004). Energy Sources. Perfection Learning
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