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Geology and the Environment - Research Paper Example

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This essay investigates the friendliest source of energy for our environment. It describes possible energy sources, coal with solar energy, its benefits and disadvantages. The most undesirable feature of coal in producing energy is that coal is a non-renewable source, comparing to solar power…
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Geology and the Environment
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Download file to see previous pages The paper outlines the perspective of using solar power as the future source of energy, compared to coal-mining industry. As the world gets bigger, as economies get larger, as the human population increases, the demand for energy also amplifies. Everyone wants the maximum amount of energy that can be produced; over the centuries, man has found numerous ways to bring power into their lives, ranging from combustion of fossil fuels, to wind power. This essay will compare and contrast two of these possible energy sources, coal with solar energy, and attempt to find out which source produces energy in the most effective and desirable way. Solar power is more environmental friendly as compared to power released from coal, in terms of the physical effects it has on the environment. As mentioned earlier, solar power is generated using only radiation from the sun; we receive sunlight every single day on earth, and solar panels only have to capture this radiation and convert it into power to use. Generating power using coal, however, requires coal to be dug out from the ground. There are several ways of extracting coal from the ground, including strip mining, surface mining, open pit mining, mountain top removal. These types of mining inflict tremendous amount of damage to the environment since they involve the complete destruction of all trees, mountains, rivers, anything that is in the vicinity of the coal mine. Mining for coal can also lead to the pollution of the air and water bodies near the coal mine. (Shah, 2011); toxic materials from the mining process can get washed away into rivers or lakes that are near the mining site ("Coal," page 8). Also, the removal of trees can lead to increased chances of landslides and subsidence ("Coal," page 4). All in all, the process of extracting coal leaves behind a barren, ugly landscape, whereas solar power is generated in a way that does not harm the physical environment. Solar power also means no more grid systems (Whitburn, no date). Solar power can be generated using solar panels that are attached onto the roofs of houses, there is no need to be connected to electrical grids to receive power. This feature of solar power is particularly useful to the people living in isolated areas far away from electrical grid, since it means they no longer have to face the problem of "frequent power-cuts," and expensive electricity, (Whitburn, no date). Indeed, this "transmission infrastructure," is the "major culprit behind skyrocketing electricity prices"; also, reliance on off-grid solar power means that the 7 - 10% line loss that occurs as power is being transmitted along the power lines, can be avoided, (Land use: Solar Power Vs. Coal Fired Electricity Generation, 2010). Energy produced by coal however, does require the support of grid systems to transfer it to people. How do people working in the coal mining and solar ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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