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The editors at Green Career Guide decided to research the topic of
Green Energy and Politics in 2012
Today, many businesses, organizations and even individuals know their carbon footprint just as well as they know their shoe size. Being green, sustainable and eco-conscious is becoming a requirement. But how green are the main green energy alternatives? Decide for yourself which of these initiatives is the most beneficial.
- Land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines operating in ideal conditions at 20% capacity could supply:
- 40x current global electricity use
- 5x global energy use
- Maintain reliable service by operators
- Reallocation of output demand to generators in response to local wind variation
- There are reports of bird and bat mortality in turbines
- Noise pollution is rumored
- Wind power consumes no fuel and produces no emissions
- Resource consumption is manufacturing related
- Some wind turbines use neodymium
- Mining of this metal contributes some pollution
- Research is being conducted to refine the process
- Accounted for 42% of new U.S. electricity in 2008
- Wind continues to be under-implemented considering its potential
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's WinDs model predicts wind could produce 25% of U.S. electricity by 2050
- The United States, primarily plains states, could accommodate 16x the current demand for electricity
The Politics of Wind
- Obama strongly supports clean energy:
- "Since taking office, electricity production from wind and solar sources has already more than doubled in the United States."
- Romney demands energy independence at all costs:
- "The goal of energy independence has long proved elusive, but analysts across the spectrum - energy experts, investment firms, even academics at Harvard University - now recognize that surging U.S. energy production, combined with the resources of America's neighbors, can meet all of the continent's energy needs within a decade."
- Almost completely clean
- Getting more reliable but is best combined with other methods of energy
- Small casualties in migrating birds flying into turbines
- Solar can meet electricity needs without compromising future generations
- Inefficiency of current technology prevents wide-scale adoption
- Photovoltaic (PV) panels have just 16% conversion efficiency
- $400 billion in government research and market support can improve efficiency in 25 years.
- By 2030, investment in oil exploration may reach $23 trillion
- PV systems do not require water to generate electricity
- Solar farms require vast plots of land
- This raises environmental concerns for the EPA
- PVs contain hazardous materials which might escape if damaged or improperly disposed
- Oils and molten salts create the potential for spills
- PV sales are increasing 40 - 50% per year
- 0.2% of global energy production was solar in 2010
- 0.8% of renewable energy production is solar
- However, its high production cost may be prohibitive
- May grow significantly in coming years
- The sun is a dependable resource
- Requires drastic improvement in efficiency to become affordable
- Requires volatile substances for manufacturing
- Could damage environment with spills or accidents
- "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet," Romney told the RNC. "My promise is to help you and your family."
- The Obama administration intends to open 285,000 acres of public land for solar energy development:
- New Mexico
- Given the risks and rewards, which green energy source would you choose for our future?