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Unlike solar energy, wind power grown faster the last couple years and is today the environmentalists preferred alternative energy source (Bradley 1). Paul Brown writes, Sebastian Seidel 3 “Electricity production [in the U. K. ] from wind leapt by 31% last year, making it the fastest growing industry in the field of power generation” (1). Every year, the amount of electricity produced by wind power is increasing, especially in the USA, Germany, Denmark and Spain (Brown 1). The improvements made in wind power generators in the past years, has led to more efficient wind mills.
James Flanigan describes, “[a] single windmill generator today is capable of doing the work of 10 windmills of the 1970s, when wind power experiments began” (2). He adds, “Wind generation can deliverer electricity at 3 cents to 6 cents a kilowatt-hour” (2). This is a lot less than the average electricity price paid in the U. S. today. But although wind power seems to be the ideal energy source, environmental activist who were promoting alternative energy in the past now have doubts about wind power. Robert L. Bradley reasons in his article, that “[w]ind blades have killed thousand of birds in the U. S.and abroad in the last decade, including endangered species” (2).
Like any human made construction, wind blades are a threat to birds, but so is any electricity line. The Altamont Pass wind-power plant in California is a good example of a misplaced wind power facility. Hardly any research about the animal environment was done when the windmills were set up. But even if one project has a bad impact on the environment and wildlife, wind power has still countless good aspects (Bradley 2). Therefore Hal Harvey, president of the Energy Foundation, declares, “[w]e’ve found the holy grail: wind is now cheaper than any fossil fuel-based.
Sebastian Seidel 4 power source” (qtd. in Linden 1). Hydro-Power means making electricity from water power. In his article, Stuart Baird declares, “Hydro-Power is currently the world’s largest renewable source of electricity, accounting for 6% of worldwide energy supply or about 15% of the world’s electricity”(1). It has been known to be one of the cleanest ways to produce energy, because it does not produce any exhaust fumes or waste of any kind. As Baird adds, “hydro-power is better than burning coal, oil or natural gas to produce electricity, as it does not contribute to global warming or acid rain” (2).
Another benefit is that it helps to control water, for example with dams. But hydropower dams also have negative environmental impacts, such as blocking fish movements and decreasing water quality. Another disadvantage of this technique is “the flooding and destruction of entire ecosystems” (Baird 2) and the “increase of bacteria in the water due to decaying vegetation, which can be harmful to the fishes and to those who eat them” (Baird 4). Like solar- and wind-power, Hydro-Power has many good as well as a few bad aspects. The problems mentioned above result from unplanned, bad managed and oversized hydro-power systems.
But, if a dam is well sited, well operated and kept reasonable in size, these environmental impacts can be reduced though not eliminated. Renewable energy has many good as well as many bad aspects. Today most of the electricity comes from coal-, gas- and nuclear-plants. Still, the percentage of electricity made with renewable energy is growing every year. Canada for example adds “60%” of Sebastian Seidel 5 energy made by hydro-plants to the national grid (Baird 1) and Denmark satisfies 18% of electrical demand with electricity produced wind-power (Brown 1).
Within the few next years, due to technical improvements and cheaper production methods, the percentage of renewable energy added to western countries demand will rapidly grow. But lots of research has to be done until then to limit the negative impacts on the environment.
Sebastian Seidel 6 Baird, Stuart “Hydro-Electric Power. ” Energy Educators of Ontario 1993. 15 Jan. 2002. <http://www. iclei. org/efacts/hydroele. htm> Bradley, Robert L. “Dirty Secrets of Renewable Energy. ” USA Today Magazine May 1998. 14 Jan. 2002 <http://www. elibrary. com> Brown, Paul “Wind power use grows by 30%. ” The Guardian 10 Jan. 2002. 17 Jan. 2002. <http://www.guardian. co. uk> Flanigan, James “Getting serious about Earth-Friendly Energy. ”
Los Angeles Times June 2001. 21 Jan. 2002. <http://www. web6. infotrac. galegroup. com> Greenwald, John “Energy: Here comes the sun. ” Time 18 Sep. 1993. 15 Jan. 2002. <http://www. elibray. com> Kozloff, Keith Lee. “Rethinking development assistance for renewable electricity sources. ” Environment Nov. 1995. 15 Jan. 2002. <http://www. elibrary. com> Linden, Eugene “Selling the Sun… and the Wind Renewable energy has come of age-but it’s mostly foreign companies that are making money on it. ” Time 16 July 2001. 15 Jan. 2002. <http://www. elibrary. com>