Human populations are growing at the fastest rates ever, and with this boom in population and standards of living, electricity consumption is growing. In 2007, there were 3891.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity used, which is a 1000 billion kilowatt-hours or a 37.17% increase in use compared to that used in 1990 (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2008). In addition to this fact, there is a projected increase of an additional 40% by the year 2030 (Burt and Mullins, 2008). According to the Energy Information Association, the two largest sources of electricity currently in use are fossil fuels, which make up 72%, and nuclear energy, which makes up 19.4% of the current United States production (Schnapp, 2009). Fossil fuels can be broken down into two main types with several smaller groups. The main fossil fuels are natural gas and coal, which make up 21.6% and 48.5% respectively for the year 2007 (Schnapp, 2009).
[...] Downsides to Fossil Fuels Products of Combustion Coal productions produce a large amount of energy, but the coal is not pure, so more than just carbon dioxide and water escapes into the atmosphere. These mineral components either form a “glass-like slag” or released as (Fossil Energy Office of Communications, 2008). The slag can sometimes be commercially useful, or can be a waste form. Fly ash is the gaseous impurities that are released, and typically toxic. The main toxic substances released as a gas are sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, and carbon monoxide (Duke Energy). [...]
[...] Comparing Nuclear and Fossil Between the two common sources of energy of electricity in the world, each have their own unique downsides to contend with if one or the other is to be chosen as the main source of electricity to meet the demands of the coming future. The issue over which source is the more environmentally friendly is one of the top concerns when analyzing the two types. Burning coal and natural gas and using nuclear fission for the production of electricity all require mining. [...]
[...] “Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste.” Scientific American 13 Dec Scientific American Apr
[...] Coal power plants use a lot of coal, but the Gibson plant produces 3000 megawatts of electricity, which is 50 percent more than the Hoover Dam (Appenzeller, 2006). The Gibson plant uses approximately one hundred train carloads of coal every single day. Not only is the United States using a lot of coal now, as seen by the Gibson plant, but the use of electricity is expected to rise by one third in the next twenty years (Appenzeller, 2006). There is luckily enough for about 250 years worth of consumption of coal in the United States, but it buried deep underground. [...]
[...] Improving Fossil Fuels Coal power can become more ecologically and environmentally friendly with further advances in technology; however, these advances do not come without a cost. One third of the world's carbon dioxide created by humans comes from over two thousand one hundred coal- burning power plants (Kintisch, 2007). These carbon emissions easily outweigh other carbon emission producing activities, such as driving a car. Facilities using the IGCC method of extracting the carbon dioxide from the flue emissions are not operational, but the U.S. [...]
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