Comparative study of various technologies used for electricity generation

by Mlungisi Vincent Ncwane

Institution: University of Johannesburg
Year: 2015
Keywords: Fossil fuels
Record ID: 1481985
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/13570


Fossil fuels have been the backbone for the world in terms of fulfilling energy requirements. One of the best used types of fuel is the coal due to its availability throughout the globe. However, the coal resources cannot be reproduced hence the future generation may be negatively affected by the present method of generating energy. Unfortunately, these resources have undesirable effects to the environment which may lead to global warming. Other various sources may include oil and gas, nuclear, and the renewables. Oil and gas have diverse use currently especially in the transportation of goods and people across the continents. Nuclear energy is a mature technology but recent disasters have led to the public to be anti-nuclear. This perception is also fuelled by the in NGOs who are staunch supporters of renewable power. In addition, the issue about nuclear energy revolves around the undesirable side effect like the production of atomic bombs which are dangerous weapons ever. To produce nuclear energy, usually uranium is used which is also not available in abundance. Therefore, limiting their use will ensure that our future generations enjoy these benefits. Renewable sources like wind, wave, and solar, hydro, geothermal and tidal energies needs to be explored further for the sake of our future generations. The challenges which are faced by policy makers regarding the fossil fuels include catastrophic disasters which require billions of dollars in the form reconstruction after heavy drought and floods which damage the infrastructure and the economy at large. These disasters can be prevented if all governments are working together to eliminate or reduce the causes of climate change due to global warming. Unfortunately climate change must be addressed by all nations as it is no use for say one country to reduce emissions while others are not doing enough as we share the same atmosphere. The cost of renewable energy has been on the decline as the technology becomes more mature and the installed capacity across the globe increases. Thus more data is available to obtain understanding about the operations and maintenance of these systems. The other advantages of renewable sources are input costs are minimal for example wind energy comes from wind which is free. Same applies to solar energy which uses radiant energy from the sun which is also freely available. The coal and nuclear fuel power stations are currently in the forefront due to the fact that both stations may be used as based load to maintain grid stability in terms of power frequency. The renewable energy sources are very unreliable as they heavily dependent on weather. Unfortunately weather cannot be controlled.The renewable power is derived from biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wave and wind. The renewable power tends to be the most expensive option in comparison to the traditional sources (coal, oil and gas, and nuclear). Technology for electricity generation from these renewable sources is now becoming mature and both maintenance and operating cost…