Environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies

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Contents Introduction 2 Wind Energy 2 Solar Energy 3 Geothermal Energy 4 Biomass 6 Air Pollution 6 Greenhouse Gases 8 Implications for Agriculture and Forestry 8 Hydropower 9 Conclusion 10 Sources 12 Introduction To combat global warming and the other problems associated with fossil fuels, the world must switch to renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind, and biomass. All renewable energy technologies are not appropriate to all applications or locations, however. As with conventional energy production, there are environmental issues to be considered. This paper identifies some of the key environmental impacts associated with renewable technologies and suggests appropriate responses to them. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists and three other national

organizations, America's Energy Choices, found that even when certain strict environmental standards are used for evaluating renewable energy projects, these energy sources can provide more than half of the US energy supply by the year 2030. Today the situation in fuel and industrial complexes round the world is disastrous. Current energy systems depend heavily upon fossil and nuclear fuels. What this would mean is that we would run out of mineral resources if we continue consuming non-renewables at the present rate, and this moment is not far off. According to some estimates, within the next 200 years most people, for instance, seize using their cars for lack of petrol (unless some alternatives are used). Moreover, both fossil and nuclear fuels produce a great amount of

polluting substances when burnt. We are slowly but steadily destroying our planet, digging it from inside and releasing the wastes into the atmosphere, water and soil. We have to seize vandalizing the Earth and seek some other ways to address the needs of the society some other way. That’s why renewable sources are so important for the society. In fact, today we have a simple choice – either to turn to nature or to destroy ourselves. I have all reasons to reckon that most of people would like the first idea much more, and this is why I’m going to inquire into the topic and look through some ways of providing a sustainable future for next generations. Wind Energy It is hard to imagine an energy source more benign to the environment than wind power; it produces no air or

water pollution, involves no toxic or hazardous substances (other than those commonly found in large machines), and poses no threat to public safety. And yet a serious obstacle facing the wind industry is public opposition reflecting concern over the visibility and noise of wind turbines, and their impacts on wilderness areas. One of the most misunderstood aspects of wind power is its use of land. Most studies assume that wind turbines will be spaced a certain distance apart and that all of the land in between should be regarded as occupied. This leads to some quite disturbing estimates of the land area required to produce substantial quantities of wind power. According to one widely circulated report from the 1970s, generating 20 percent of US electricity from windy areas in

1975 would have required siting turbines on 18,000 square miles, or an area about 7 percent the size of Texas. In reality, however, the wind turbines themselves occupy only a small fraction of this land area, and the rest can be used for other purposes or left in its natural state. For this reason, wind power development is ideally suited to farming areas. In Europe, farmers plant right up to the base of turbine towers, while in California cows can be seen peacefully grazing in their shadow. The leasing of land for wind turbines, far from interfering with farm operations, can bring substantial benefits to landowners in the form of increased income and land values. Perhaps the greatest potential for wind power development is consequently in the Great Plains, where wind is