32,6% – oil and oil products. 30,0% – coal. 23,7% – gas. The top three among the energy sources that supply humanity look exactly like this. Starships and the “green” planet are still as far away as the “galaxy far, far away”.
There is certainly a movement towards alternative energy, but it is so slow that it is hoped for a breakthrough – not yet. Let’s be honest: for the next 50 years, fossil fuels will light our homes.
The development of alternative energy is going slowly, like a prim gentleman along the Thames embankment. Today, much more has been written about non-traditional energy sources than has been done for their development and implementation in everyday life. But in this direction there are 3 recognized “mastodons” that pull the rest of the chariot behind them.
Nuclear energy is not considered here, because the question of its progressiveness and expediency of development can be discussed for a very long time.
Below there will be power indicators of stations, therefore, to analyze the values, we will introduce a starting point: the most powerful power plant in the world is the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (Japan). Which has a capacity of 8,2 GW.
Air energy: wind in the service of man
The basic principle of wind energy is the conversion of the kinetic energy of moving air masses into thermal, mechanical or electrical energy.
Wind is the result of the difference in air pressure on the surface. Here the classical principle of “communicating vessels” is implemented, only on a global scale. Imagine 2 points – Moscow and St. Petersburg. If the temperature in Moscow is higher, then the air heats up and rises, leaving low pressure and a reduced amount of air in the lower layers. At the same time, there is high pressure in St. Petersburg and there is enough air “from below”. Therefore, the masses begin to flow towards Moscow, because nature always strives for balance. This is how the flow of air is formed, which is called the wind.
This movement carries a huge energy, which engineers seek to capture.
Today, 3% of the world’s energy production comes from wind turbines, and capacity is growing. In 2016, the installed capacity of wind farms exceeded the capacity of nuclear power plants. But there are 2 features that limit the development of the direction:
1. Installed power is the maximum operating power. And if nuclear power plants operate at this level almost all the time, wind farms rarely reach such indicators. The efficiency of such stations is 30-40%. The wind is extremely unstable, which limits the application on an industrial scale.
2. Placement of wind farms is rational in places of constant wind flows – this way it is possible to ensure maximum efficiency of the installation. Localization of generators is significantly limited.
Wind energy today can only be considered as an additional source of energy in combination with permanent ones, such as nuclear power plants and stations using combustible fuel.
Windmills first appeared in Denmark – they were brought here by the Crusaders. Today, in this Scandinavian country, 42% of energy is generated by wind farms.
The project for the construction of an artificial island 100 km off the coast of Great Britain has almost been completed. A fundamentally new project will be created at Dogger Bank – for 6 km2 many wind turbines will be installed that will transmit electricity to the mainland. It will be the largest wind farm in the world. Today, this is Gansu (China) with a capacity of 5,16 GW. This is a complex of wind turbines, which grows every year. The planned indicator is 20 GW.
And a little about the cost.
The average cost indicators for the generated 1 kWh of energy are:
─ coal 9-30 cents;
─ wind 2,5-5 cents.
If it is possible to solve the problem with dependence on wind power and thus increase the efficiency of wind farms, then they have great potential.
Solar energy: the engine of nature – the engine of humanity
The principle of production is based on the collection and distribution of heat from the sun’s rays.
Now the share of solar power plants (SPP) in the world energy production is 0,79%.
This energy, first of all, is associated with alternative energy – fantastic fields covered with large plates with photocells are drawn immediately before your eyes. In practice, the profitability of this direction is quite low. Among the problems, one can single out a violation of the temperature regime above the solar power plant, where the air masses are heated.
There are solar energy development programs in more than 80 countries. But in most cases we are talking about an auxiliary source of energy, because the level of production is low.
It is important to correctly place the power, for which detailed maps of solar radiation are compiled.
The solar collector is used both for heating water for heating and for generating electricity. Photovoltaic cells generate energy by “knocking out” photons under the influence of sunlight.
The leader in terms of energy production at solar power plants is China, and in terms of generation per capita – Germany.
The largest solar power plant is located on the Topaz solar farm, which is located in California. Power 1,1 GW.
There are developments to put collectors into orbit and collect solar energy without losing it in the atmosphere, but this direction still has too many technical obstacles.
Water power: using the largest engine on the planet
Hydropower is a leader among alternative energy sources. 20% of the world’s energy production comes from hydropower. And among renewable sources 88%.
A massive dam is being built on a certain section of the river, which completely blocks the channel. A reservoir is created upstream, and the height difference along the sides of the dam can reach hundreds of meters. Water rapidly passes through the dam in those places where the turbines are installed. So the energy of moving water spins the generators and leads to the generation of energy. Everything is simple.
Of the minuses: a large area is flooded, biolife in the river is disturbed.
The largest hydroelectric power station is Sanxia (“Three Gorges”) in China. It has a capacity of 22 GW, being the largest plant in the world.
Hydroelectric power plants are common throughout the world, and in Brazil they provide 80% of energy. This direction is the most promising in alternative energy and is constantly developing.
Small rivers are not capable of producing large power, so hydroelectric power stations on them are designed to meet local needs.
The use of water as an energy source is implemented in several major concepts:
1. Use of tides. The technology is in many ways similar to the classical hydroelectric power station, with the only difference being that the dam does not block the channel, but the mouth of the bay. The water of the sea makes daily fluctuations under the influence of the attraction of the moon, which leads to the circulation of water through the turbines of the dam. This technology has only been implemented in a few countries.
2. Use of wave energy. The constant fluctuations of water in the open sea can also be a source of energy. This is not only the passage of waves through statically installed turbines, but also the use of “floats”: but the surface of the sea places a chain of special floats, inside which are small turbines. Waves spin generators and a certain amount of energy is generated.
In general, today alternative energy is unable to become a global source of energy. But it is quite possible to provide most objects with autonomous energy. Depending on the characteristics of the territory, you can always choose the best option.
For global energy independence, something fundamentally new will be required, like the “ether theory” of the famous Serb.
Without demagogy, it is strange that in the 2000s, humanity produces energy not much more progressively than the locomotive that the Lumiere brothers photographed. Today, the issue of energy resources has gone far into the sphere of politics and finance, which determines the structure of electricity production. If oil lights the lamps, then someone needs it …