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oh no the lights are out-all about power production in the us

Updated on April 21, 2012

Have you ever thought?

One morning you wake up reach out for a bed side lamp and oops no light. You look at the alarm clock and the digital readout is dark. You stagger out to the kitchen and realize you are not getting hot coffee this morning. The list could go on forever. We would all be lost without power.

Each of us uses huge amounts of power each year ,and do not even think about it.

It seems that since Benjamin Franklin flew his famous kite the world has depended on electricity. Let's look into it a little .

Lets look at coal

21% of the power we use in the U.S.A. is from coal. We burn about two Trillion pounds a year, And keep in mind this is approximate the data I found was from 2009 we may use even more.

Here is how it works Coal is burned and the heat produced heats water into steam. The steam under very high pressure is fed into a turbine making it turn a generator.That creates electricity.

Now you know how it works.

Coal is one of the more economical way to produce power.

You can find at least a million articles for or against it based on its ecological impact.

It creates pollution of that there is no doubt global warming believers say it may be a contributing factor non believers will say they are wrong.

My opinion is that you should research and shape your own opinion

Lets look at natural gas.

This is another way to produce power. It works like coal by heating water to produce steam and using the steam to turn a turbine. But by burning natural gas.

I have also seen a few very large motors that work much the same as a car motor but burn natural gas in place of gasoline these motors will then turn a generator.

The research I did says that because it burns so clean it has many environmental benefits over other sources of energy.

About 25% of our power comes from natural gas It is an abundant source of energy and becomes more popular every year .

However the process for getting the gas out of the ground is considered by some to be much worse on ecological systems then coal. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) Is a process that involves pumping water and a mix of several chemicals deep under ground to break up rock and release the natural gas, And is another hot topic considered by ecological advocate groups to be very bad for the planet. The claims range from releasing carcinogenic elements to raising salt levels and polluting ground water.

About Petroleum

Just a quick note I found some information that said 37% of the nation's energy came from petroleum. But on reading further I found that only 2% of electricity is produced that way. So were going to kind of skip that and follow the larger ways of making electricity.

Lets look at Hydroelectric power

This one has fascinated people young and old for a very long time. IF my research is correct the first hydroelectric plant opened in 1882 on the Fox River in Appleton, WI. IT was to become known as the Vulcan plant and made power enough for about three buildings. In 1896 Nikola Tesla started using it on a larger scale with the hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls.If you live in America you know about the Hoover dam a very impressive sight for sure.

Hydroelectric plants work much like other types of power plants by turning a turbine that turns a generator. The difference is the water is not heated to create steam instead it uses gravity . The water from a large river is let in at the base of the dam where it flows down a pipe called a penstock passes through the turbine making it spin.

With no emissions they cannot be blamed for pollution The ecological concerns are more about infringement on nature because of things like reduced water flow down stream.

From my research it seems hydro makes less impact on our planet then most other sources of power generation. However you need a large river and a sharp decrease in elevation to be able to build a hydroelectric dam so finding a place to build one is rare.

OH NO its a nuke

The first nuclear plant in the in the us opened in 1960. About nine 9% of our power is produced by nuclear . Some serious accidents have happened at these plants but very few. Its like airplane crashes they rarely happen but its big news because of the damage or loss of life that accompanies it.

For the most part Nuclear power plants work much likes coal . They use steam to turn a turbine However the water is heated by the radioactive rods in the plant. Sounds simple right? The problem is the heat source cannot be turned on and off so water must keep flowing to keep things from getting too hot. That is when nuclear plants have problems is when the water flow stops or slows down too much to keep things cool. I am sure you have heard the horror stories about Nuclear mishaps. And the environmentalist ideas about it. This article is not about that so I will not go there.

Wind and Solar

I am including wind and solar together because most of what can be said applies to both.

The solar panel is made from a silicon photovoltaic. Simply put a material that creates electricity when in sunlight.

Wind turbines are a blade attached to a Turbine .Wind hitting the blade makes it spin creating power.

For now wind and solar power only provide a small part of the electricity in the U.S. Both are very clean, and have little environmental impact. I have heard of a few stories about harm to birds at wind power farms. The main negative I have heard about both is they are very expensive to build and maintain. Economically they may not yet be viable at least that is the opinion of some.

Home made power

For this one I can't provide data on how much it is done, but the movement is growing fast

There are companies and individuals that claim to have achieved a way to make free power at home. Some say it is not possiable I know of one that has patented a design they say will work. Its called the HoJo Motor . You can check it out yourself just type hojomotor on google and you will find lots of links

Time to think

In conclusion you now know a little about the main ways your power is made. The next time you flip a light switch think about the thousands of workers out there making sure you have power.

Think about how lost you would be without it,and how much you depend on it each day.

I hope you have enjoyed the read and now have something to think about. As always thanks for reading this.


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    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Power is becoming a real luxury in these turbulent economic times and we are spending more and more on it. It is worrying with regards to alternative energy like solar power that payback for the systems takes so long that the initial outlay is so costly. There has to be a cheaper way to buy gas and electricity or develop new energy from more renewable sources. It has got to be affordable though. Good hub and very thought provoking.