Josh Soderling

Importance of Alternative Energy
As the world watches, the price of oil rises, the world economy falls, and oil companies gets rich; one must ask what are we going to do? Alternative energy needs to be further developed because these alternative fuels sources will lead to less pollution world wide and more jobs with more money. There are many different energy sources they all have there advantages and disadvantages. Four different sources of energy are hydrogen, wind, solar, geothermal. Each of these should be examined to see how it can affect our current problems. Hydrogen is a very environment friendly source of energy. The reason why is because of where it comes from. Hydrogen comes from water. Water (H2O) which is 2/3 hydrogen and 1/3 oxygen. In order to separate the hydrogen and oxygen from water an electric current is used. This results in forming a hydrogen gas, which is stored in pressurized tanks like propane tanks. The hydrogen gas then can be distributed to customers. General Motors is now working on a car that will run on hydrogen; it will be done by 2010. Honda also is working on the FCX which is another fuel cell car. We call these cars fuel-cell. The fuel cell system chemically converts hydrogen to electricity and has water as a byproduct. This will have the potential to replace the internal combustion engine which is an engine where hot air builds up pressure and cause the movement of solid parts of the engine. It turns in to water because it comes out hydrogen and the


Josh Soderling oxygen hits it and it turns to water. ("Consider the Alternatives"). A way to understand this would be to think of blood, it starts out blue but the oxygen in the air makes you bleed red. Hydrogen is cleaner and safer to use then oil. The down fall of this fuel source is that more research is needed to make it easier to use. Scientists are working on a way to make the system smaller. Wind turbines are large steel, free standing structures with a shaft, blades and a generator. When the wind blows on the blades, the blades start to spin. This is due to the kinetic energy of wind. As the blades start to spin they spin the shaft. The shaft sends the power to a generator. The power from the shaft moves large magnets around a coil which starts the electrical current. (“Udall”) The advantage of wind energy is that it’s clean and renewable. Global wind power capacity rises about 28% each year. At that rate we may double our global wind power capacities in less than 4 years. Germany is the leader in wind power capacity and the U.S.A. is second then Spain at third. (“Sawin”) The disadvantages of wind power are that birds can get in the way of the blades and die. Just remember what ever you do something negative will happen. Even wind makes tornadoes. In the USA we have the strongest wind zone in the world. Behind the Rockie mountains is the nations strongest wind zone. But why do we lack in wind power? “Wind farms cost in the area of $1,000 per Kilo Watts (KW) of capacity, so a wind farm consisting of seven 1.8-Mega Watts (MW) turbines runs about $12.6 million. The "payback time" for a large wind turbine -- the time it takes to generate enough electricity to make up for the energy consumed building and installing the turbine -- is


Josh Soderling about three to eight months, according to the American Wind Energy Association. (“Udall”) Transportation of the parts for the wind mill takes a lot of work. The wind generator may weigh 240,000 pounds. Trucks have to be specially made because they have to carry the wind blade which is over 180 feet long. That is three times the weight and length of a normal semi-trailer truck load. Sources Energy from sun light is converted into energy using solar panels. Solar panels are made of silicon. Silicon absorbs the light and eventually transforms it into an electrical current with the help of other electrons. Each panel has a 25 year life span. Solar panels are fifty percent affective meaning they can only turn half the power from sun light into energy. Solar panels may not get sun all year long depending on where they are.

The picture above is an example of a typical 2 Kilo Watt system, a really a small system. The solar panels are really only a small part of the system but are the most important piece. After the solar panel the electric current must go though a charge controller then goes to other places of the system. A small system like this one can cost about $32,000.


Josh Soderling ("How Solar Cells Work ") The down falls of a solar energy system is its cost. This system is very expensive. The pros of this system are like the rest, free energy and yet renewable. Geothermal is energy from the earth. “Geo” means earth. “Thermal” means heat. So geothermal is heat from under the ground. Five percent of all the geothermal energy under the U.S. would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 260 million Americans. Prachi Patel-Predd of Discovery says, “Typically, geothermal electricity is generated when hot water or steam underground is piped to the surface to drive a turbine, usually through heating an intermediate working fluid that actually turns the turbine's blades. The turbine drives a dynamo that then produces the electricity. Crucially, the temperature of the piped-up water dictates the efficiency of a turbine-based system: the hotter the better, with a minimum of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit needed.” Geothermal energy has the needed power to run the country power at current levels for 30,000 years and is free energy and renewable. Washington State has the high temperature resources that are required for electricity generation. Cons of geothermal energy are that it is not efficient and cost a lot of cash about $3.5 million to $4 million per megawatt to build a power plant. (‘Predd’) What all of this means is with these four energy sources we can change our future. We can build our geothermal plants on our west coast. Raise our large wind mills in the plains and our solar panels. On the east coast build our hydro plants. We can show the world that we have our own sources. This time we won’t import energy but export. This time global energy won’t be a problem. This time oil won’t be a problem.


Josh Soderling Some people wonder how they can fix this problem. I say lets spread the word. That is why the web site I’m going to make will be about spreading the word about alternative energy. It will be where you can get the facts and at the same time sharing ideas with others. It will be were you can walk in with no idea about the topic and walk out a genius on the topic with a group of friends, made on the site, that will back you up on your effort to fix the problem. My idea of how to do this is to set up the site so that it will have the facts and allow people to post in forums so that we can have a community on the site. This is a example of advocacy because it will inform people on the topic and it would be indirect because it will make a community that wants to do something about it.

Works Cited Aldous, Scott. "How Solar Cells Work." 01 April 2000. <> 12 December 2008. "Consider the Alternatives." E Magazine Jan.-Feb. 2006: 38-39. Eastwood, Ken. "Power into the future." Australian Geographic July-Aug. 2002: 36-36. Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, ed. "Wind Power." Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. 2001. Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Oct. 2008 <>. Layton, Julia. "How Wind Power Works." 09 August 2006. <> 12 December 2008.


Josh Soderling Olson, Robert L. "The promise and pit falls of hydrogen energy." The futurist July-Aug. 2003: 46-52. Sawin, Janet L. "Wind Power Continues Rapid Rise." World Watch 21.2 (July 2008) 4 December 2008. Predd, Prachi P. "Why have we ignored the green energy beneath our feet?" Discover Magazine 2008. Udall, James R. "Living off the grid, part 3 a new era in home owner hydro." Mother Earth News Apr.-May 1994: 62-62. U.S. Department of Energy. "Alternative Energy Resources in Washington." U.S. Department of Energy. 3 Nov. 2008. 15 Dec. 2008 <>.


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