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ADVANTAGESANDDISADVANTAGESOFENERGYSOURCES

PreparedbySandraVasaSideris,PhD,SouthernPolytechnicStateUniversity,
forusebystudents

Questionstoconsider

1 Wherearethenonrenewablesourcesofenergylocated?
2 Howeasyisittogainaccesstothesesources?
3 Whataretheconsequencesofusingthesesources(fuels)?
4 What are the costs (direct and indirect) of using these
sources?Arethereviablealternativesourcesoffuel?
5 Whatisthecurrentcostofcrudeoilandotherformsofenergy?
6 Whatelsehaveyoulearnedabouttheseresources?
7 Whatisthepoliticalenvironmentfortheseenergysources?

NATURALGAS

Advantages

1 Burnscleancomparedtocola,oil(lesspolluting)
2 70%lesscarbondioxidecomparedtootherfossilfuels
3 helpsimprovequalityofairandwater(notapollutant)
4 doesnotproduceashesafterenergyrelease
5 hashighheatingvalueof24,000Btuperpound
6 inexpensivecomparedtocoal
1 no odor until

addedDrawbacks

2 notarenewablesource
3 finiteresourcetrappedintheearth(someexpertsdisagree)
4 inabilitytorecoverallinplacegasfromaproducibledepositbecauseof
unfavorableeconomicsandlackoftechnology(Itcostsmoretorecover
theremainingnaturalgasbecauseofflow,access,etc.)

Otherinformation

1 5,149.6trillioncubicfeetofnaturalgasreserveleft(morethanoilbut
lessthancoal)
2 23.2%oftotalconsumptionofnaturalgasisintheUnitedStates
WATERPOWER

Pros

1 Provideswaterfor3030%oftheworldsirrigatedland
2 Provides19%ofelectricity
3 Expandsirrigation
4 Providesdrinkingwater
5 Supplieshydroelectricenergy(fallingwaterusedtorunturbines)
6 Easierforthirdworldcountriestogeneratepower(ifwatersourceis
available)
7 Itischeaper

Cons

1 Destabilizesmarineecosystems
2 Water wars (up river and down river; e.g., the water war
betweenGeorgia,Alabama,andFloridaisongoing)
3 Dambuildingisverycostly
4 Peoplehavetorelocate
5 Somedamshavetobetorndown(Someolderonesarenotstable.)
6 Restrictedtoareaswithflowingwater
7 Pollutionaffectswaterpower
8 Floodingofavailablelandthatcouldbeusedforagriculture

CRUDEOIL

Advantages

1 Oilisoneofthemostabundantenergyresources
2 Liquidformofoilmakesiteasytotransportanduse
3 Oilhashighheatingvalue
4 Relativelyinexpensive
5 Nonewtechnologyneededtouse

Disadvantages
Oilburningleadstocarbonemissions
1 Finiteresources(somedisagree)
2 Oilrecoveryprocessesnotefficientenoughtechnologyneedstobe
developedtoprovidebetteryields
3 Oildrillingendangerstheenvironmentandecosystesm
4 Oiltransportation(byship)canleadtospills,causingenvironmental
andecologicaldamage(majoroilspillnearSpaininlateFall2002)

Issues

1 Theworldconsumesmorethan65billionbarrelsofpetroleumeachday.
By2015theconsumptionwillincreaseto99billionbarrelsperday.
2 Fossilfuelssuchasoiltakebillionsofyearstoform.
3 In1996,theEnergyInformationAdministrationestimatesofcrude
oilreserveswere22billionbarrels.In1972,theestimatewas36.3
billionbarrels.
4 Costofoilhasdroppedsince1977.Itwas$15perbarrelthen.Itwas$5
atthetimetheauthorswrotethebook.

NUCLEARPOWER

Pros

1 Clearpowerwithnoatmosphericemissions
2 Usefulsourceofenergy
3 Fuelcanberecycled
4 Lowcostpowerfortodaysconsumption
5 Viableformofenergyincountriesthatdonothaveaccesstootherforms
offuel

Cons

1 Potentialofhighriskdisaster(Chernobyl)
2 Wasteproducedwithnowheretoputit
3 Wasteproducedfromnuclearweaponsnotinuse
4 Earthquakescancausedamageandleaksatplants
5 Contaminationoftheenvironment(longterm)
6 Usefullifetimeofanuclearpowerplant
7 Plantconstructionishighlypoliticized
WINDPOWER

Advantages

1 Continuoussourcesofenergy
2 Cleansourceofenergy
3 Noemissionsintotheatmosphere
4 Doesnotaddtothermalburdenoftheearth
5 Producesnohealthdamagingairpollutionoracidrain
6 Landcanbesuedtoproduceenergyandgrowcropssimultaneously
7 Economical
8 Benefitslocalcommunities(jobs,revenue)

Disadvantages

1 Formostlocations,windpowerdensityislow
2 Windvelocitymustbegreaterthan7mphtobeusableinmostareas
3 Problemexistsinvariationofpowerdensityandduration(notreliable)
4 Needbetterwaystostoreenergy
5 Landconsumption

COAL

Pros

1 Oneofthemostabundantenergysources
2 Versatile;canbeburneddirectly,transformedintoliquid,gas,
orfeedstock
3 Inexpensivecomparedtootherenergysources
4 Goodforrecreationaluse(charcoalforbarbequing,drawing)
5 Canbeusedtoproduceultracleanfuel
6 Canloweroverallamountofgreenhousegases(liquification
orgasification)
7 Leadingsourceofelectricitytoday
8 Reducesdependenceonforeignoil
9 Byproductofburning(ash)canbeusedforconcreteandroadways

Cons

1 Sourceofpollution:emitswaste,SO2,NitrogenOxide,ash
2 Coalminingmarsthelandscape
3 Liquification,gasificationrequirelargeamountsofwater
1 Physicaltransportisdifficult
2 Technologytoprocesstoliquidorgasisnotfullydeveloped
3 Solidismoredifficulttoburnthanliquidorgases
4 Notrenewableinthismillennium
5 Highwatercontentreducesheatingvalue
6 Dirtyindustryleadstohealthproblems
7 Dirtycoalcreatesmorepollutionandemissions

Other

o Twotypesofcoallowrank(pollutesmore),andhighrank