Electricity facilitated and changed the life of every person in the world. It is difficult to imagine a daily round without this significant element. However, it should be stressed that different types of electricity generation should be taken into consideration. The world develops and improves, so should the methods of production. The primary purpose of the paper is to describe the power generation in the United States, make an accent on types of energy sources, examine the path of electricity, and highlight the importance of renewable energy sources.
Statistics and Electricity Generation
As a matter of fact, the United States generates over 3 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. The majority of electricity is generated using fossil fuels, namely:
- Natural gas;
According to recent research, the primary sources of electricity generation in the United States are the following ones, namely:
- “Coal = 33%
- Natural gas = 33%
- Nuclear = 20%
- Hydropower = 6%
- Other renewables = 7%
- Biomass = 1.6%
- Geothermal = 0.4%
- Solar = 0.6%
- Wind = 4.7%
- Petroleum = 1%
- Other gases = <1% (Tester 45)”.
Steam turbines are considered to be the most widespread tool that generates electricity in the United States. With the consideration of the statistical information presented above, the conclusion can be drawn that fossil fuels are the major source of power production. Natural gas is also beneficial for the generation of electricity as burnt gas passes through a turbine, and this process generates electricity. Petroleum is another component that is used for electricity production.
According to recent statistics, nuclear power plants generate electricity and provide the country with the one-fifth amount of the electricity consumption. The findings state that last year, nuclear power plants generated over 20% of electricity in the United States. These plants are situated close to the Mississippi River.
Renewable energy sources are used for electricity generation as well. Almost 15% of electricity are generated due to renewable energy sources, namely:
- Hydropower (6%);
- Windpower (5%);
- Biomass (2%);
- Geothermal power;
- Solar power.
In order to get a better understanding of the electricity situation in the United States, every element of renewable energy sources that were stated above should be taken into consideration. Hydropower generates electricity by spinning a turbine. This type of source generates 6% of total electricity in the United States (Isser 69). The process of converting wind into electricity became widely used at the end of the twentieth century, and now it contributes 5% to the electricity segment (Isser 71). Biomass is considered to be waste, wood, paper, and plants that are burnt in the steam-electric power plant for the generation of electricity. Geothermal and solar power are not well developed yet. However, the experts note that in the future, these types of renewable energy sources will become more popular and will significantly influence the electricity sector.
Technological progress and scientific breakthrough had a significant impact on the way society used to live. It is worth noting that technologies facilitate daily rounds. Almost two centuries ago, the primary source of energy needs was considered to be wood supply. However, with the discovery of coal and natural gas, the industry underwent changes. The United States became less dependent on wood than the country used to. However, nowadays, people turn their attention to renewable energy sources. It is of paramount importance to point out that renewable energy sources play a fundamental role in the struggle against the greenhouse effect. The generation of electricity from renewable sources has significantly improved since 2000. The pivotal role in the development played the government as it provided executives with incentives to develop a business using renewable energy.
The question that arises from the stated above information is why the government did not give up other electricity generation types and is not focused on renewable energy now. The answer is related to the costs. Earlier, the production of electricity using fossil fuels was more beneficial and financially effective than renewable energy. First and foremost, high costs are associated with the distant location of plants from the cities. Secondly, it should be noted that not always renewable sources are at disposal. For example, solar power is highly dependent on the weather, whereas wind power is dependent on the wind. Thus, there are some problems that should be solved. The government of the United States should invest money in the development of projects, and scientific research in order to improve in the sphere and make progress because renewable energy sources are the future.
The Path of Electricity
People need electricity every day, and it is difficult to imagine the daily round without this component. Electricity makes life easier and contributes to enjoyment. However, despite the fact that everyone needs electricity, not so many people think about how it is distributed and how it enters the home. Electricity is generated in power plants. Transmission stations distribute energy with transmission lines over long distances (Melhem 104). Power transformers make energy appropriate to pass to homes. Power lines help electricity to travel to the electricity transformers which makes the electricity safe for the users. The system is complicated and requires a lot of staff working on different processes.
Renewable energy is produced with a small negative effect on social and cultural life, health, and the environment. Renewable energy can be called sustainable because the sources that are used for power generation are eternal. The usage of renewable energy helps to reduce the harmful effect on human health and the environment. Sustainable energy can provide electricity to villages, big cities, and factories without causing harm (Edenhofer and Madruga 34). Every method of clean power generation has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration. Every approach should be chosen with the consideration of the local climate, which is characterized by wind, rain, or sun. Installation of home energy systems that run on solar, wind, or waterpower cost a lot of money. However, as soon as the equipment is installed, its operation and maintenance are inexpensive.
Renewable energy from wind, sun, and water can be generated in smaller quantities at a lower cost; thus, an environmentally friendly form of energy is easier to use close to the place where it is produced (Edenhofer and Madruga 45). Communities that use clean energy can manage resources on their own. When electricity is produced from sunlight, water, or biogas, it reduces dependency on fossil fuels, and from expensive high-voltage distribution systems (Edenhofer and Madruga 51).
Power lines transmit electricity from the power plants to the place where electricity is used. Electricity moves through power lines like water through pipes. In case, the transmission lines are of poor quality, a lot of electricity is wasted. Existing power plants can be improved in order to produce more pure and safer electricity.
There are different types of electricity generation. However, the future of the planet is dependent on the ability of a human being to use sustainable energy sources. The consumption of electricity is increasing with every year, and thus, the government and executives should focus on the development and improvement of modern methods of electricity generation.
Edenhofer, Ottmar, and Ramon Madruga. Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation: Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.
Isser, Steve. Electricity Restructuring in the United States. New York: Cambridge UP, 2015. Print.
Melhem, Ziad. Electricity Transmission; Distribution and Storage Systems. Philadelphia: Woodhead, 2013. Print.
Tester, Jefferson. Sustainable Energy: Choosing among Options. Cambridge: MIT, 2012. Print.