Discussion 5 - The Lesser Evil.docx - Discussion 5 If I were to choose to have alternative energy sources that were not one of our traditional fossil

Discussion 5 - The Lesser Evil.docx - Discussion 5 If I...

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Discussion 5 If I were to choose to have alternative energy sources that were not one of our traditional fossil fuels, it would be a combination of solar and wind. Depending on how the advances continue in the fields of tidal and geothermal I would also like to see them in the mix. Finally, I would continue to use the hydroelectric that we already have and I would not add any additional hydroelectric plants. The problem with additional hydroelectric plants is that dams in canyons or hilly terrain will have a much lower environmental impact and carbon dioxide emissions than a plant that is in a flatter terrain and we have already made dams in most of the ideal locations that would not disturb the environment as intensely (Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d.) I think that solar should be the primary energy source for residential use. Every house has a roof and almost every roof could support some solar panels. Now I understand that not every roof is positioned for optimal use in gathering solar energy, but something is always better than nothing. The great thing about this is that by putting solar panels on the roofs of houses, we are not disturbing any additional land to create this energy. Then we look at wind. It is not uncommon to hear opposition to wind based on the area that is required for it. For a wind farm they have found that you need a space of between 30-141 acres per megawatt of capacity (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2013). While this may seem like we are using a very large amount of land and getting very little back, this is not actually the case. Only about 1 acre per megawatt hour is permanently disturbed and close to 3 acres are temporarily disturbed during construction (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2013). With this in mind this means that all of the rest of the land around the wind turbines can now be used for anything from grazing land, protected forests, farming, hiking, and even for highways. There are some drawbacks to wind energy that should be addressed. First is the fact that birds are sometimes struck and killed by the spinning blades. This is important since the idea of this project is to help save the planet; not kill off additional species. So, let’s look at the numbers. In 2013 the Smithsonian commissioned a study on the effects that wind turbines had on the bird population. It concluded that across the country approximately 140,000 to 328,000 birds die each year from being struck by the blade of a wind turbine (Eveleth, 2013). However, if we compare that to the deaths that are caused by skyscrapers, 504,000, it is only between 26% to 65%. I have never heard people talking about how we need to tear down skyscrapers because they are killing birds, yet they fight putting up clean energy for this reason. Just to be clear, I do think that the death of this many birds is an issue, and so do the owners of wind farms. In fact, a study was already done in which the owners changed their cut-in speed, this is the wind speed required before the turbine will allow to blades to begin spinning.
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