Usage and Production of Energy sample essay
Energy, or in simple words electricity, is the main source of power on which every process of our society relies. After industrialization the usage of electricity for economic growth was as important as oxygen is for life. Every sector, even agriculture, began to require usage of different forms to electricity to keep up with the changes in trends and increases in demand levels. Energy is said to be produced from various “natural resources” such as coal, water, wind, oil, solar, as well as nuclear. Electricity is generated by the “heat or motion” of the sources mentioned above.
It is said generation of electricity by the usage of nuclear power is one of the most “cleanest and environmentally friendly ways” of producing electricity (NS&T, p. 1). United States, the world super power, relies on electricity more than any other nation in the world. Like the sources of generation mentioned above, United States also uses “coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, or hydropower” to produce normal usage electricity. A portion of electricity is however generated by using “alternative fuels” such as “geothermal energy, wind power, biomass, solar energy, or fuel cells.
” It is amazing that the sources of generation differ greatly throughout the nation; however, they still supply the same amount of energy to the places where they are being consumed (Safe Electricity, p. 1). As the name describes, hydropower is when electricity is produced by the usage of water supplies. The plants that generate electricity through water are aid to use the “power of falling water” in order “turn the turbines” that aid in the production of electricity.
Water is “stored” or accumulated behind a dam and is released with pressure where it goes through tubes to “flow against the blades of turbine” which results in turning them to generate electricity. This process is said to generate 10% of the total electricity of the United States and the most productive facility for this generation is the Hoover Dam (Safe Electricity, p. 1). Currently, United States is said to operate two kinds of reactors, namely “pressurized water reactor (PWR) and the boiling water reactor (BWR).
” The water used in the boiling water reactor is said to be generated through the same process as the heart for pressurized water reactor. However, in boiling water reactor, the water itself is boiled and is the steam produced by the boiled water is directed towards the turbine. Once it passes the turbine it is “condensed back to water” like the process in pressurized water reactor. The boiling water reactor is said to be a “continuing process” since the condensed water is sent back to the reactor again so that it can be heated and the procedure can be repeated (NS&T, p.
3). Burning of fossil fuels is said to generate the highest percentage of electricity used in the United States. In this process power plants are used to burn “fossil fuels” such as oil, coal and natural gas to heat up the water that forms steam. Like in hydropower, this steam is then “directed at blades of turbine” which causes them to turn or “spin. ” The three sources of fossil fuels mentioned above are categorized as fossil fuels as they were created from the “fossilized remains” of living things (animals or plants) that were alive a long time ago.
It is believed that even before the existence of dinosaurs, the plants and animals populated the surface of the earth. Once they died they “settled” at bottom of lakes and deep oceans and were covered by “sand and mud. ” These remains of living things were converted into coal, oil and natural gas due to the pressure of the earth and heat as the years passed by. Coal, which is found in large deep coal mines, is said to produce “half of electricity” consumed by the United States of America. The other two forms of fossil fuels are found by drilling deep wells into the surface of the earth.
Natural gas contributes to around 10% of United States electricity usage, whereas oil is said to generate 2% of the energy consumed overall by the United States of America (Safe Electricity, p. 1). Electricity generation through nuclear power is yet another source of electricity production. The nuclear power plants are said to use heat from “splitting atoms to convert water into steam” which is directed towards the turbines to turn them to produce electricity. The main metal used at these plants is uranium which is found by mining in the ground and has to be specifically processed to be used in the nuclear power plant.
“Fuel roads” which contain uranium are placed together in a machine known as “nuclear reactor. ” The machine then causes the atoms of the uranium metal to split which makes them release large amounts of heat (Safe Electricity, p. 1). During the summer of 2004, first ever application in 30 years was submitted to U. S. Department of Energy in order to obtain permission to construct and operate a new nuclear power plan in the country. “NuStart and two groups of companies,” one of which was under the lead of Dominion and the other was led by the Tennessee Valley Authority, offered new advancements to the reactor technology that was being used.
According to the rules and regulation of the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must perfect and “certify” the “designs” of the new nuclear power plants before their construction begins. They are also said to issue a license which permits the operations to be conducted in these plants (NS&T, p. 3). In geothermal energy, electricity is produced by using steam or hot water “from under the ground” to turn the blades of the turbines. Whereas in wind power the wind is thrown at a high force which causes numerous small turbines to spin, this form of electricity is usually produced from wind farms.
Biomass, an organic matter which mainly consists of “agricultural wastes, wood chips and bark left over when lumber” is produced. Biomass is converted by being burned in an “incinerator to heat water” which in turn makes steam and is passed to the blades of turbine to generate electricity. Gas is another form in which biomass can be converted to produce electricity. Two forms of electricity production do not require the use of turbines; they are the solar energy and the fuel cells production.
In solar energy “panels of photovoltaic cells capture light from the sun” and convert it directly into electricity which is then stored in a battery. However in fuel cell electricity production, electricity is generated “through a chemical reaction” (Safe Electricity, p. 1). During the year 2004, United States produced a total of 3,953 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, out of which 3,794 billion Kwh were produced by the sector of electric power and the remaining was contributed by the heat and power facilities in the commercial as well industrial sector.
Fifty-two percent of the generation by electric power sector came from “coal-fired plants,” nuclear power plants contributed around 21%, hydroelectricity provided 7%, oil contributed 3%, whereas other mentioned forms of production amounted to 1% of the total electricity supply. In the same year the electricity demand grew by 1. 7%, and in first half of 2005 the electricity demand went up by 1. 9%. It was expected that due to economic growth and weather issues the demand in 2005 would increase by 3. 3% whereas 2006 demand was estimated to go up by 1. 3% (Energy Information Administration).
Figure 1: Energy Consumption by Sector: United States The above graph shows the consumption of electricity sector wise in the United States of America. The highest percentage of electricity is consumed by the transportation industry whereas the lowest percentage is used up by the agriculture sector. The residential sector is said to consume 17%, or the third highest amount of energy in the United States. Residential energy is consumed basically by a normal end consumer in order to operate home appliances; a break down of this 17% is shown in the figure below.
It is shown that the usage of appliances such as refrigerators, dishwasher, oven, microwave, stove, computer, printers, and televisions contributed greatly towards residential consumption of electricity (EIA). Figure 2: Residential Electricity Consumption, United States As compared to United States, the consumption of electricity in United Kingdom’s domestic sector and service sector increased by 4. 5% and 6% in the year 2005. However, in the following two years the demands declined due to soaring prices of electricity consumption. In 2006 and 2007, demand went down by 1.
5% as compared to the year 2005. It is said that in 2005, the service sector of United Kingdom saw a rise in electricity usage by 1%, whereas the industrial sector saw fluctuations in its consumption levels. From the years 1994 to 2000, industrial sector consumption rose, however it felt back by 2. 5% in 2001, but the sector recovered its consumption level and grew to a much higher rate by 2005. The year 2006 also came with falling industrial consumption of 2% which was recovered by a 1% increase in 2007. The following graph shows the consumption of electricity by sector in United Kingdom (BERR, p. 25).
Figure 3: Electricity Consumption by sector: United Kingdom Compared to United States which generates half of its electricity by the usage of burning fossil fuel, or coal in particular, United Kingdom has changed its trends and uses gas as the main source of energy production. This was not the case during the 1990s, when United Kingdom also used coal for more than half of its electricity generation. However, since 1990 the “decline of coal” and the “rise of gas” has been the most dominant trend in the electricity sector of United Kingdom. From 1980 to 2004, gas as main source of production rose from 1.
6 Twh to 153. 7 Twh, however it felt back to 138. 1 Twh in 2006 and reached around 161. 1 Twh by 2007. Generation through nuclear power plants started to go in mid 1990s but fell back by 1998 after which it was not used as the major source or energy however it still contributes around 15% of the total energy production. Coal is now considered to a “substitute” after the fall back of nuclear energy generation and for “high priced gas. ” The following graphs summarize the electricity supplied according to fuel type from years 1980 to 2007 in the United Kingdom (BERR, p.
24). Figure 4: Electricity supplied by fuel type: United Kingdom It is easy to determine that the two so-called super powers differ greatly in their consumption of electricity as United States uses most of its energy in transport sector, whereas United Kingdom’s energy is consumed by industrial sector. They also differ in the production trends, as United Kingdom is known to use Gas as main source of production, and United States uses coal as the major source of power generation.
Works Cited BERR. UK Energy in Brief.A National Statistics Publication: Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform. July 2008. Earth Trends. “Energy and Resources – Country Profile: United States”. World Resources Institute, 2006. May 28, 2009
Clough, “Energy profile of the United States”, Encyclopedia of Earth, February 24, 2007. May 28, 2009
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