Comparing Renewable Energies

Solar, wind, nuclear, bio-fuel, bio-mass, geo-thermal, hydro ... are all potential and feasible options for sustainable energy. Is there a clear winner, some better than others or should we give each its due?

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Comparing Renewable Energies

Postby darioa » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:46 pm

There are advantages and disadvantages to each source of renewable energy:

Solar:
- great during sunny days, quite bad at night
- technology is well understood, efficiency is currently poor
- need for better technology still provides for new opportunities
- requires large amounts of surface area facing south for best performance

Wind:
- mature industry, problems due to lack of wind consistency
- works great off-shore where wind is strong and more consistent
- wind picks up at night when solar energy is not available
- small wind (personal wind blades)
- needs very high towers (80-120 ft) where wind is not turbulent, and is not allowed in many urban settings
- misunderstood and prone to disappointment due to lack of laminar flow wind (as opposed to turbulent flow, which lowers efficiency)
- less efficient than solar

Geothermal:
- fantastic technology that can be used everywhere, all the time, especially for water heating
- heat pump uses much electricity (solar driven pump with geothermal could be a good combination)
- large scale geothermal energy needs high temperature differences, not available everywhere economically

Nuclear:
- not well understood by the masses even though it could be more available and efficient
- non polluting source
- have enough Uranium for 250-300 years, without making new discoveries
- High Level Waste is very manageable and small
- very expensive and lengthy to put new nuclear power plants using old technology

Energy Efficiency/Conservation:
- by far the best renewable energy source
- potential for saving energy using conservation methods is higher than using any renewable source

Hydro:
- not available everywhere and needs altitude differences to make it work
- could pose energy problems during drought years

Biomass:
- technology is still immature
- great potential
- could use CO2 output from conventional power plants to create algae that can be used as fuel

Others:
- still in R&D
darioa
 
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