Necessity Of Alternative Sources Of Energy Engineering Essay

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Hundreds of generations have relied on a fairly short list of energy sources to perform work. Wood, coal, oil and natural gas served well as fuels for providing heat and for cooking, wind and water powered sawmills and ship at sea. But the human population did not confine itself to a simple life. Communities expanded and these communities grew at a pace that outstripped natural resources. Forests began disappearing, and challenges in mining coal increased. Crude oil reserves also became increasingly difficult to find and tap.

Over the past few years, energy security concerns have moved up the global agenda. There are two main reasons for this, the first is unpredictable supply: the region's economies have been faced with high and often volatile prices for energy. The second reason is the raising demand; rapid industrialization and impressive economic growth are increasing the use of oil. Rising energy prices and climate change are the issues.

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In this case, the necessity for search of alternative sources of energy has risen.

ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY

Sources of energy can be renewable or non renewable. Renewable energy is those sources that can be renewed. Solar energy is a renewable source where the heat from the sun is converted into electricity.

Numerous fuels are available to power industry and generate electricity. These fuels range from low tech solutions such as burning animal manure and wood, to utilizing traditional fossil fuels, using various forms of green energy, and unlocking power of the atom. All of these have inherent strengths and weaknesses

HYDRO POWER

Just like wind, moving water can also be used to generate electricity. Moving water from rivers or dams is made to fall through power turbines and this generates electricity. Electricity can also be generated using tides and waves. Though the upside is no pollution and steady source of water, it is an unexploited technology.

BIO FUELS AND GEO THERMAL ENERGY

Geo thermal -During volcanic eruptions, the earth's core is extremely hot; this heat is used to generate electricity. Biofuel - Energy from sun that is stored in the plant and animal matter is used for generating electricity. Bio gas, liquid bio fuels and solid biomass are their kinds.

WIND ENERGY

Wind is used to generate electricity using windmills. It is widely used in places in Europe, South Africa, and North America. It is an effective and cost efficient alternative source.

The other type is the non renewable form of energy. Fossil fuels i.e. coal, natural gas and oil. Methane is the source for natural gas. Coal is used as a solid fuel to generate electricity but it can be converted into liquid and gas fuels. Oil is a liquid fuel that is used for electricity generation and also for transport.

NUCLEAR ENERGY

Nuclear energy is the other type of non renewable energy that generally is viewed as dangerous. This really is not true. Despite Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the safety record for nuclear power speaks for itself. There have been over 11,000 reactors - years of safe commercial plant operation, coupled with an equivalent span of safe operation for nuclear powered warships. The worst accident by far was Chernobyl, a case of an unsafe reactor design. Today, electricity generated from nuclear power is one of the cheapest powers available.

SINGAPORE

Singapore, somewhat in the shape of a diamond is a small island with an area of 700Km2 which is extended by land reclamation. With such a vibrant economy, Singapore cannot sustain without imported energy. Due to her low lying islands, global warming is an important issue.

She obtains her energy from fossil fuels at present and it is not that suited for using renewable energy with possibilities only for solar energy. Land constraint is the issue in using wind energy as establishing wind mill is practically not possible in the small island. Hydropower is sort of difficult as flowing water is needed. But Singapore has still water all around. Bio mass refers to the agricultural waste and agriculture is not under cultivation in Singapore. The aim is to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. Hence NUCLEAR ENERGY can obviously be the solution.

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The most abundant fuel for nuclear fission is uranium which is available in plentiful

Years of supply at current usage rates

CLIMATE CHANGE

There is increasing agreement within the climate change lobby that greater utilization of nuclear power must be considered in order to reduce the threat of global warming. Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear power generation does not emit carbon dioxide, the main catalyst of climate change. This has created an unlikely alliance between the nuclear industry and many environmentalists, who are looking ways to reduce CO2 emissions. A statement by James Lovelock, a founder of green peace, that "only nuclear power can halt global warming "offers an example of this.

Nuclear energy may be thought of as a non renewable energy source because it uses uranium, which is a non renewable element found in the earth's crust. Scientists can also argue that nuclear energy belongs to the renewable category because a nuclear reaction is a self-sustaining process. The reactor produces an efficient power supply, but it also creates radioactive waste. Of all energy sources, nuclear energy supplies the most power and longevity for a unit of fuel. Nuclear power offers some undeniable benefits in the quest to reduce fossil fuel use and cut green house gas emissions. A single reactor can generate enough electricity in a year to supply 740,000 households according to NEI

"[t]hirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change."[Moore, 2006]

SAFETY

Since the Chernobyl accident, safety procedures at all soviet- designed reactors have been significantly upgraded. Nuclear safety is extremely important. The consequences of a reactor failure, whether a result of mechanical problems or human error, can be catastrophic. Over the past 65 years there has been a constant effort to improve reactor safety operations and the systems that operate these very complex machines. These advances will help ensure that reactor accidents and will pave the way for a greater number of electricity - producing commercial nuclear reactors that will supply the growing demand for energy. . There are some misconceptions about nuclear energy and they are discussed below.

NUCLEAR POWER HAS A WASTE PROBLEM

Nuclear facilities do produce waste, but the amount of waste is substantially less than the waste produced from coal and oil fired generation facilities. The tons of coal and millions of barrels of oil used for convectional electricity generation produce particulate waste products that remain on site while other waste is released into the environment.

STORING NUCLEAR WASTE

Because they are radio active, the waste products from nuclear power stations need to be disposed of very carefully. Burning would release them into the atmosphere. Burying them in a normal waste dump would allow the radiation to escape into the ground and contaminate water supplies. Different storage methods are used for nuclear waste depending on the level of radioactivity. Most low and intermediate level waste is sealed in containers and stored above the ground at special sites. Later it may be stored underground. High level waste is often set hard in glass bricks (vitrificaiton) before being buried deep underground. But the ground must be absolutely stable, with no danger of earthquake or volcano.

"At Hanford nuclear waste storage facility in the US, spent plutonium fuel is kept underground in huge waste tanks. Not every nuclear is dangerous. Natural uranium can be handled safely because it decays so slowly that it does no harm."[Graham, 1998]

BURIAL AT SEA

Currently, nuclear waste burial sites are all on land. An alternative option is to bury the waste deep underneath the seabed. There are parts of the sea floor that have been stable for millions of years. Scientists believe that the fine ocean sediments would seal any leaks in the waste containers and stop radiation from spreading.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Every responsible study has shown that nuclear electricity is as cheap as any of the non-fossil alternatives and is competitive with fossil-fired electricity. Singapore needs an average of 42,000 GW/hr per annum. The study shows that 41,800.66 GW/hr electricity is used in the year 2009.

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To establish a nuclear plant, the construction and fuel costs are to be considered, "Each nuclear power plant costs between $3 and $5 billion just to construct!" http://www.neis.org/literature/Brochures/npfacts.htm.The fuel costs are obtained below. 42,000 GW/hr is given in the power plant option. The total amount needed is obtained 406746.2 (thousand US$) which is $ 0.41 billion.

The fuel cost is inclusive of waste generated. Thus an average of $ 4.5 billion will be needed for generating power using nuclear energy. "Singapore spent SG$8.2 billion on electricity in 2008" (Straits Times, 2009). An average of SG$10 billion will be needed this year. This is nothing about USD 7 billion. But when nuclear energy is considered, it is around USD 4.5 billion only. This amount is needed initially as the construction cost is included. The fuel costs amount only to USD 0.41 billion. Hence the pay back period will be around 20 years. (7/0.41)

From the survey, it is clear that in the future, the cost of nuclear energy will be less compared to any other energy.

According to the world nuclear organization, the future will have

Opponents of nuclear power cite the three concerns

The chance of catastrophic accidents that contaminates the environment

Accumulation of radio active wastes that do not degrade

Possibility of terrorist attack on nuclear power plants or on waste transports.

These issues have sustained a long lasting argument over the merits of nuclear power that is one of the most contentious in environmental science

Reactors those are currently operating are safer and more efficient than those used in the preceding decades, and new reactor designs have been developed that possess even greater safety.

As said earlier, the radio active waste can be buried where under the ground which should be stable and there should be no danger of earthquake. According to Singapore's geographic location, it is not prone to earthquakes.

"Although Singapore is close to Indonesia, which is an earthquake prone country, it has not been hit by earthquakes because it is far enough from fault lines."

http://www.geckogo.com/Guide/Singapore/Natural-Environment/Geography/

Singapore is a safe country which is devoid of terrorism. "Singapore is considered to be one of the safest places in the world! The homicide rate is only 0.38 per 100 000 inhabitants. "

In ASIA, most countries generate electricity from nuclear power. Given below is the map that describes the places in ASIA where nuclear reactors are used. "In 2008 the government announced that it had no option but to commission nuclear power due to high fossil fuel prices, and set 2023 as target date. Early in 2010 the government said it had budgeted $7 billion funds for this."

CONCLUSION

Once people gain a better understanding of nuclear power and the role that it has played and will continue to play in providing the economy with huge quantities of environmentally friendly power, a greater reliance on this energy technology in the years to come will be recognized as a prudent course of action.