Alternatively-Generated Electricity and Energy Sources
Speech on Alternative Energy Sources: Intro and Topic
I am representing environmental efforts and environmental organizations in their attempt to help the planet. These organizations are important because they can reduce damage to the environment while helping the future of the Earth. Although it is unknown to what extent these organizations can help, it has become common knowledge that environmental efforts can help to at least some extent, in terms of pollution, the ozone layer, and the health of the land. I am going to inform you about three topics in this area: the importance of biodiesel fuel, the importance of alternatively-generated electricity, and the importance that the nation follows a model to take action.
As the energy crisis becomes more serious, alternative ways to save money on energy and fuel is of increasing interest. Biodiesel is now a third way for renewable energy enthusiasts to be independent of commercial electricity, in addition to solar and wind power technology. Solar and wind technology are becoming easier to buy or even make at home. Sometimes these are enough to allow homeowners to become independent, depending on their technological know-how, but of course it never hurts to have more options. While biofuels have not been proven to be practical in mass production, as an extensive amount of land and dual-purpose resource is required, many independent people have found the technology to be a nice alternative. The technology can be done by independents without massive industrial equipment, so it is of use to a wider audience. For people who would manufacture their own biodiesel, there is good news.
According to the Earth Policy Institute, a generator has been developed in the United Kingdom that can run on biodiesel alone. Other generators of its kind are also now in existence. Many generators already in existence could run in part with biodiesel, but the new generators do not need a secondary fuel source. So, now, people who would purchase or would make their own biodiesel can have a more practical use for a biodiesel generator. Theoretically speaking, you could grow your own power (or get it cheaper, if not free, while disposing of ‘waste’ from a local business.) This combined with homemade solar and/or wind turbine and you might even have enough power generated to make a profit selling some to your local power company. A homemade biodiesel project can be useful to you if you want to have a smaller impact on the environment, you want to attempt to save money, or you just enjoy fun engineering projects. If you can successfully make fuel your options for use now range from automobile to home generators for an independent electronic power supply. The main two ingredients that are of the most important in this are a water heater and a source for waste vegetable oil. The size of the tank will make the difference in how much fuel you can make in one run. Waste vegetable oil, aka WVO, is a primary ingredient for fuel. The places where this can be obtained for free are diminishing solely for this reason, but can be found for a low price in any case. As technology continues to increase at such a magnificent rate it is nice when people can take steps to ensure it can continue to develop without a crisis in energy or fuel. Aside from this, independent renewable technology is a great way to save a little money while gaining independence from commercial electricity.
As mentioned, the United States can benefit from following a model in alternative energy. Asia has taken great steps to make changes in alternative energy, and the United States should follow its example. The two main areas it has made progress are in geothermal and wind farm investments.
Although drilling and plant construction in geothermal plants, not to mention exploration, costs are high in comparison to other alternatives, the maintenance and operation costs of a geothermal plant are significantly lower in comparison. Typically it takes 7 to 8 years for a geothermal project to go from an exploration to production stage. Road costs to remote areas are also a factor. Carbon credit eligibility would make investments in these projects more likely, as well as help with some of the initial project cost. As member of the Earth Policy Institute says on geothermal power "…geothermal is going to loom large in the energy economy of the future, and that development could come very quickly once the leadership begins to see the potential."
China is likely to become a world leader in renewable energy. According to a report made by the Worldwatch Institute, at the current rate, at least 30 percent of China’s energy will be from renewables by 2050. China has a goal of getting 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources before 2020 and is on track for 10 percent by 2010. It may easily surpass both of these goals at the current speed of development. Aside from environmental and energy solutions, there are also opportunities for wise investments from the United States in this area, as the development is attempting to occur rapidly alongside the need. Wind energy, among others, seems to have the greatest potential at this point.
Some say China is poised to become a leader in renewables manufacturing. Industry analysts at China Strategies LLC predict that 100 gigawatts of energy will come from wind plants in China by 2020. If that amount indeed proves to be true, the increase would be 1667 percent. This is not a typographical error, and China Strategies claim their estimate is actually a conservative one. Environmentalists see this as just one necessary step towards steering away from a world with irreversible environmental damage, and advise people to not take a false sense of security in this figure even as impressive as it is.
China carries considerable weight in other areas of renewables. Regarding solar power, the production capacity is predicted to reach 1,500 megawatts this year. This would be more than quadruple the amount in 2005 (350 megawatts.) China is also a leader in the small-hydropower market. Furthermore it creates 2 gigawatts of energy out of agricultural waste.
China is predicted to spend over $10 billion in expanding its renewable energy capacity this year. Last year, both wind and solar energy sectors doubled. Those sectors are still expanding rapidly, and China has a good chance of surpassing the current major wind and solar energy leaders (Japan, North America, and Europe) over the next few years. China currently has the fifth-largest capacity for wind power from installed equipment when compared to the rest of the nations.
By the end of the year China will have six foreign wind energy subsidiaries and four main domestic wind turbine manufacturers. Over forty companies for commercial wind turbine production are in developmental stages. This could be a key area for the United States to invest in. The World Bank has already invested $13 million in a 2006 wind energy project in Nanhui. Richard Spencer of the World Bank sees wind energy as a top alternative choice. As environmental issues become more serious, the population increases, and energy-using lifestyles and technologies expand, the need for renewable energy becomes ever more significant. Investment, especially from the United States, in this area has the potential to be wise both economically and for the sake of well-being.
Other Asian ventures provide examples of actions the United States should take to help the environment. According to My Indonesia Today.com, geothermal projects have been fully designed into reality. some Asian economies have developed in Indonesia and the Phillipines, geothermal has been more targeted as a solution. Both countries are part of what is known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire” which contains hundreds of volcanoes, many of which are active. These volcanoes can be harnessed to create geothermal power. Nearly the entire state of Hawaii could be powered from its volcanoes alone, while other resources within various parts could also power regions. Alaska is another great example. Asia’s diligence in pursuing this has been remarkable. Some experts claim Indonesia could run its economy entirely on geothermal energy, and that it has not begun to realize the potential for doing so. Unlocking the potential does have its difficulties, but as infrastructure issues reach for solutions and oil prices continue to rise more efforts are being made. A project in Indonesia, the Bedugul project, is tapping power near volcanoes in Bali. The project is attempting to develop up 175MW of power, which would power somewhere around half of the power needs for the island. The project is however on hold for the time being due to a possibility of damage to a sacred area and potential negative effects on water supply. Many deny the project would have damaging effects. Currently, most of Bali’s power comes from another island nearly through a cable running under the sea. This may not be a sufficient supply in the near future as the tourist area shows a growing demand for power. Electrical power is under strain in the Phillipines and Indonesia. Phillipine demand is growing fast, and Indonesia has had blackouts in times of high demand. Indonesia is only tapping 850MW of an estimated 27,000MW potential of geothermal power. Despite this, the government is pushing for more coal-powered plants to meet energy needs. However, Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro stated energy from geothermal projects could reach 9,500MW by 2025.
Firms in Indonesia such as Star Energy and Medco Energi Internasional are considering making investments. The largest private producer of geothermal energy in the world, Chevron, has plans to double Indonesian and Phillipine geothermal business by 2020. Chevron makes this estimation despite capital issues and conflicts.
Although drilling and plant construction, and exploration, costs are high in comparison to other alternatives. The maintenance and operation costs of a geothermal plant are significantly lower in comparison. Typically it takes up to 10 years for a geothermal project to go from an exploration to production stage. Road costs to remote areas are also a factor. Carbon credit eligibility would make investments in these projects more likely, as well as help with some of the initial project cost.
As member of the Earth Policy Institute says on geothermal power "…geothermal is going to loom large in the energy economy of the future, and that development could come very quickly once the leadership begins to see the potential."
Restatement of problem and call to action
As we can see, while difficult, alternative energy projects are entirely possible. Biodiesel can help reduce the impact of gasoline while Asia has set an example for how to pursue alternative electricity. Overall, the environment is being damaged by current efforts, and the United States must take action.
“Geothermal Power for Indonesia still deals with some difficulties.” My Indonesia Tomorrow.
“U.K. company develops biodiesel generator.” Biodiesel Magazine.
Earth Policy Institute. Home Page.