Comparing Energy Sources
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Comparing Efficiency and Cost

Which energy is the most efficient? costly? environmentallly friendly?

Stephen Wang's insight:

Out of all the renewable alternative energies, none of them can be 100% efficient. Energy created due to environmental factors is not always reliable as you cannot guarantee the sun to always shine or the wind to always blow. However, we can maximize the efficiency by spreading out the energy sources across a larger area (multiple wind turbines spread across a coast). Out of the above energies, the photovoltaic panels in space would provide the most efficient and reliable source of energy as it can continuously generate power. However, it is also the most unstable source of energy as we have the least amount of control over what happens in space (ex. Asteroids, solar flares or space debris all have a chance to hit them) and it is the most costly. Financially speaking, the gravity light is the least costly and the most controllable as you can choose when to use it. However the down side is that only able bodied people can use it (harder for children, elderly or disabled), and it only provides a small amount of energy. Overall, these alternative energies are all environmentally friendly by using renewable resources but they all have certain factors that will increase the efficiency and reliability of when they can be used. 

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Solar Heat Challenges Photovoltaics as Power Source: Scientific American

Solar Heat Challenges Photovoltaics as Power Source: Scientific American | Comparing Energy Sources | Scoop.it
Concentrated solar power may surpass photovoltaics as the solar technology of choice because the sun's heat is more easily stored
Stephen Wang's insight:

Sunlight is not the only renewable resource that we can get from the sun. Heat can also be captured and used to produce energy. This theory uses the idea of mirrors to focus the sun’s rays to heat a compound to boil water to power a turbine therefore generating energy. The compound that is heated can stay heated for a while allowing a constant flow of electricity even when there is an obstruction of light such as cloud cover or night time.

Financially speaking, it is not as expensive compared to solar panels as mirrors are easier to produce. Also by using mirrors, they do not degrade over time therefore removing the need to be repaired. Environmentally speaking, it has no negative effects as harnessing the light does not affect the surrounding area. As with all alternative energies, it is not always 100% efficient. For example, during times of storms, rain or clouds that are extended over a period of time, there would be little to none energy produced and therefore we cannot rely on this to be our main source of power. 

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Is Apple Going To Reinvent Wind Power?: Scientific American

New patent filings show that the company is working on a new kind of turbine that creates energy that can be stored and used later, even when it isn't windy.
Stephen Wang's insight:

The new line of Apple wind turbines will be almost the same as the traditional ones with the difference being that it will be able to store the energy created instead of using it right away. While traditional turbines took the winds kinetic energy and turned it into electric energy, these new turbines will turn the kinetic energy into heat energy which can be stored and used at a later time.

This energy could be used in Canada as we already are using wind energy as 2.3% of Canada’s total energy demand. With the harnessing of wind energy, it could create almost next to none environmental impacts other than maybe some pollution during the construction of the turbine. Traditionally, wind power was not used very often because of the fact that we have to rely on it to be windy in order to have power. With this new design, we would be able to store power when the wind appears and not wait till there is wind in order to generate electricity. On the down side, it could cause other issues such as, noise pollution, increased danger to birds in the area, or sustainable land use. However, switching to using more wind energy is not a bad idea, as the use of more renewable energy sources means the less use of non-renewable sources (coal, nuclear power). Financially speaking, it may seem to be more expensive as to use this new turbine would mean replacing all the current ones, but the long term impact of these energy sources would be much cheaper than the harvesting and production of coal or nuclear power plants. 

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Gravity-Powered Light Offers Low-Cost Way of Seeing: Scientific American

The GravityLight gets power from the slow lowering of a weight. All it takes is enough elbow grease to hoist the bag, and you can light a room with nothing but a bag of sand
Stephen Wang's insight:

Most alternative energies use the natural elements to generate power such as wind, solar, hydro etc. But how about using gravity? The Gravity Light is a new project that incorporates the effect of gravity on a weight to power a motor. All it takes is the lifting of a weight that would power a light a room. Some advantages of this are small scale, affordable for poorer areas in need of power and environmentally friendly. Another advantage of this design is that you can control when to create power, it does not rely on having sun or wind to power it as you can choose when to lift the weight. Nothing is perfect so there are some disadvantages that include small scale (can only power so much) and not portable (unless you’re comfortable carrying around weights and a motor).

Financially speaking, it is relatively cheap as the materials are not advanced technology (a weight and a motor). However, since they are small scale, they might not be as useful having to power a source that requires large amounts of power. Environmentally speaking, this design has no effect on the environment at all. If anything, it is actually helping the environment as by using it, reduces the need to power electronics with fuel that releases pollutants. Although this may seem not as efficient as other energy sources, the financial aspect allows other people in poorer places in the world to have a cheap, reliable energy source. 

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NASA Invests In Satellites That Beam Power Down to Earth

NASA Invests In Satellites That Beam Power Down to Earth | Comparing Energy Sources | Scoop.it
As spaceborne energy-harvesting schemes go, this one seems faintly possible — an array of curved mirrors directing sunlight toward solar cells, their
Stephen Wang's insight:

This idea is the theory that we put many reflective mirrors in space so that they focus the light of the sun onto solar panel cells that would convert the energy. Then the portion facing earth would transmit low frequency waves down to earth where it can be used to produce electricity. There are a few advantages to this idea, we get to save space here on Earth by not having to cover it in solar panels, the mirrors can orbit Earth so that it always faces the sun (always getting energy), and the sun’s energy is renewable so it does not cause any environmental damage. However, there are some disadvantages which include, the cost to send every piece into space and to assemble it would be massive and the time it would take to build it would also increase the costs as it would take a longer time to build in space. The fact that this technology is in space and not on earth is a good thing as it does not interfere with our daily lives but it can be a bad thing as it shows us that we don’t have much control over anything that might happen to it in space.  For example, we cannot guarantee that it will not be hit by space debris and be damaged or even worse, break off and fall back down to earth.

Overall, it would take much more time, money and technology than we have now or even in the near future. Sending an object to space is expensive enough and with this project we would have to send people to build/repair it and not to mention the technology needed to control it. The positive effects of using this energy are useful however; it also comes with negative effects that can be equally detrimental. 

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