You are on page 1of 6

Energy from Biomass

- Energy that is derived by directly burning plant material and animal waste, or by burning
gasses and fuels produced from plant material and animal waste.
- As simple as burning dung to cook over, or as complex as producing electricity from methane
harvested from decomposing municipal waste.
- Charcoal -> Produced by partially burning wood to remove moisture. Advantages include
higher energy content/unit of mass compared to wood, easy portability, and availability in
developing countries. Disadvantages include deforestation, negative effect on respiratory system
of producers and consumers of charcoal.
- Garbage Power!
- Energy can be produced by burning garbage directly to produce steam for electricity
- Methane that is produces by bacteria decomposing waste in landfills can be harvested
and burned to generate electricity.
- Garbage is readily available
- Requires development of infrastructure to develop and transport methane from landfills.
- Ethanol
- Alcohol produced by the fermentation of plant materials. Yes, this is the drinking kind.
- Produced mainly from corn in the USA, and from sugarcane in Brazil.
- Mixed with gasoline to produce gasohol
- Advantages include domestic availability, cleaner burning than gas alone, and infrastructure is
in place already.
- Disadvantages include, using food resources to produce fuel, lower content than gas alone,
alternatives to water and fertilizer hungry corn are needed.
- Biodiesel
- Produced by removing oil from plants or algae. The oil is then mixed with diesel or
burned directly in modified diesel engines.
- Advantages include high net energy, better mileage than conventional diesel, lower CO and
- Disadvantages include land used for fuel instead of food, high land use, net energy highly
dependent on type of crop, higher NO
emissions than conventional diesel.
- Oil from Algae?
- Algae is a very promising source of oil for biodiesel production.
- Algae can be grown in tanks with little land disturbance.
- Because of lower land use, food prices are not directly affected.
- CO
from conventional power plants and factories could be used to feed algae in
biofuel plants.
- Burning Solid Biomass
- Directly burning wood, plant materials, dung, and charcoal to produce heat, cool, and in
some case used for electricity generation or industrial use.
- Advantages include local availability of fuel, no net carbon increase if source is grown
sustainably, relatively low cost of development.
- Disadvantages include indoor air pollution from cooking in poorly ventilated stoves, harvesting
leads to disrupted land prone to erosion, and habitats are disrupted from high land use.

Its all about the Turbine
- Ways to Spin it! -> Steam, Wind, Moving Water.
- Ways to Make Steam -> Coal, oil, solar, geothermal, nuclear, burning biomass, and natural gas.
- Spin the turbine! Turn the generator! Make electricity!

Geothermal Power
- Geothermal Energy
- Using the heat stored underground to produce electricity, heat water, heat air, and cool
- Small percentage of worldwide energy production.

- Advantages
- Considered renewable as is only taps a small percentage of Earths geothermal energy.
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel use.
- Widespread application for heating and cooling
- Home heating and cooling with geothermal energy can be done almost anywhere.
- Disadvantages
- Potential for subsidence
- Potential for increased seismic activity from hydraulic fracturing
- High start-up costs
- Very deep wells must be drilled for electricity production.
Hydroelectric Power
- Hydroelectric Power
- Moving Water electricity production
- Hydroelectric Dams
- Tidal Energy
- Advantages
- Efficient and Predictable Energy Source
- High net Energy
- Downstream flood control
- Reservoirs can be used for recreation
- Reservoirs provide water for irrigation and municipal use.
- Disadvantages
- Habitat destruction from creation of reservoir
- High initial construction costs
- Disruption of fish migration routes by dams
- High CO2 production from decomposition of organic material flooded by reservoir

Nuclear Power
- What is Nuclear power?
- Method of producing electricity by utilizing controlled nuclear fission
- Uranium ore is mined, enriched, and used in nuclear power plants.
- A nuclear fission reaction is initiated in a nuclear reactor and the heat from the reaction
is used to generate electricity.
- Advantages of Nuclear Power
- Nuclear power plants emit very little carbon dioxide with water vapor being its main
emitted product
- Low risk of nuclear incidents
- Low overall environmental impact not considering potential accidents.
- Disadvantages of Nuclear Power
- Low or even negative net energy yield
- High cost of building power plants, decommissioning power plants and of properly
disposing of radioactive waste
- Potential for major environmental disasters in the case of accidents
- Extremely toxic radioactive waste is generated without an effective method of disposal
in place
- Public resistance to nuclear power due to fear of incidents.

Solar Power

- Advantages
- No direct emissions
- Systems are expandable and portable
- Little maintenance due to lack of moving parts
- After initial costs production of electricity is inexpensive.
- Disadvantages
- High start-up costs
- Solar systems must either have battery storage or be grid-connected
- Requires sun (duh)
- Advantages
- Little disruption of habitat or land disturbance
- Relatively inexpensive
- Low, or no, emissions
- High net energy
- Disadvantages
- High initial cost for building materials
- Passive solar must be planned for during building design process
- Only works when the sun is shining!

Wind Power
- Windmills or turbines are turned by the power of the wind
- The turbine is connected to an electrical generator that produces electricity as long as the
turbine is spinning
- Advantages
- Many sites that are suitable for wind farms
- High net energy
- Low cost electricity after initial investment
- Easy to expand
- No direct emissions
- Land can be used for other purposes as well
- Little land disruption
- Disadvantages
- Initial cost of wind turbines is high
- Turbines require maintenance
- Minor noise pollution
- Turbines can kill birds and bats.