Instructor Ryan Jones
Humanity and Energy
Since the introduction of electrical technology, and the beginning of the industrial era, human being s have been inclined and drawn to the comforts that urbanized communities utilize. As we have progressed, the demand for energy has too. Cleaner and more efficient means of energy production has been a strong focal point as of recent (last 30 years). We now have a better understanding about the way our planet operates. We have learned a lot about how our functioning energy production systems work. These experiences have concluded that the demand for energy will only increase in time. All of this combined is forcing us to take a serious and VERY close look at Renewable Energy Systems (RES). Solar power is the way of the future and at some point, whether by force of nature or the rising price of energy, we will all conform.
Studies show that renewable energy is becoming more practical and is the fastest growing
industry in America. According to the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
the price for switching to solar in the U.S. has dramatically decreased even within the last year and a
half. "The solar power industry is the fastest growing industry in America. We are delivering strong
economic returns and good jobs at increasingly competitive prices, as the National Lab report shows.
This is further proof of what Americans across the country already know: smart policies create jobs and
economic growth for communities hit hard by the recession"(Rhone Resch, qtd in "Solar Fastest Growing
Industry in Amercia"). One of the major obstacles for SRE (solar renewable energy) is production cost.
Manufacturing continues to expand in the United States and worldwide, the cost of PV has declined by
several orders of magnitude. The PV industry estimates that the system price paid by the end user will
be $ 3-4 per watt in 2010 (compared to $ 7-10 per watt in 2004). With more manufacturers producing
solar modules than ever before, the production cost is on the decline to rival competitive pricing.
Solar renewable energy methods have been used to power a percentage of industry for over
100 years. In 1878 William Adams and his student Richard Day, experimented with the use of mirrors
and was able to power a 2.5 horsepower steam engine. His design, known as the Power tower concept,
is still in use today. ("Solar Energy History" Web). This discovery opened the gates for further
implementation of this method and brought attention to the capabilities of SRE. Even today this method
continues to power areas of our country. "In a unit called Solar 2, computer - controlled mirrors reflect
light onto a central tower where the concentrated sunlight heats a heat - transfer oil called therminol.
The hot therminol is pumped to a heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to water to make steam
to run an engine. The engine is coupled to a generator to produce electricity" (Howard C. Hayden "Why
Solar Energy Wont Run the World"). The fact that SRE has been in existence almost as long as electricity
itself, stands as a testament to the longevity and recognized importance of SRE.
There is proof that the earth's temperature is rising and regardless of who's at fault, this means
global warming is real. Over the history of the earth we have endured many fluctuations in temperature
. Many of these changes we were not here to experience. "In the last 1.6 million years there have been
63 alternations between warm and cold climates, and no indication that any of them were caused by
changes in carbon dioxide levels" (Edmund Contoski "Global Warming is a Myth"). Regardless of where
you stand on who is to blame for these changes, the earth is warming. As stated by Ben Bova; Field mice
and pine trees do not have politics. They are responding to the climate changes that they face. Those
changes are real. We have an obligation to recognize the facts and to make positive strides with SRE and
other forms of renewables to positively impact our future.
Carbon emissions are to blame for global warming, but nature and man are both contributing.
Many argue their points but to no avail. "Not only is carbon dioxides total greenhouse effect puny,
mankind's contribution to it is minuscule. The overwhelming majority (97%) of carbon dioxide in the
earth's atmosphere comes from nature, not man. Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies, fallen leaves, and
even insects and bacteria produce carbon dioxide, as well as methane" according the Journal of Science.
Also noted is "Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide were not significant before world wide
industrialization began in the 1940's. Over 80% of the 20th century's carbon dioxide increase occurred
after 1940 - but most of the century's temperature increase occurred before 1940" states Edmond
Contoski of Liberty Magazine. The temperature of the earth is rising and although we are not entirely to
blame, seeking renewable methods of energy production will help to minimize or slow the warming
In these days of technology, energy is high in demand. Inflation and demand drastically drive
these prices up.Scientists and researchers are actively seeking methods and resources that will make the
energy supply not only healthy and safe but also meet the worlds increasing demand for energy.
(Introduction to the Energy Crisis: at Issue) The demand is only going to increase thus driving the
expansion of this need. The Department of Labor says that inflation is growing at the fastest rate in 17
years. The consumer price index was up about 5.5 percent from a year ago. What drove the increase in
July were in energy and food prices. No matter what your stance is on global warming and or SRE,
pursuing cheaper and more efficient means of energy is needed.
Our earth's population is steadily increasing and our energy consumptions are reflecting this
fact. The demand for energy is growing as the worlds population increases and developing economies
expand. All energy sources have both advantages and disadvantages (Energy Crisis: at Issue). This
expansion only solidifies our concerns. We NEED to take action before we are faced with calamity. John
and Mary Harte state, "The faster our population increases, the sooner we use up our resources, and
thus, the greater the impacts of global warming on our environment". With this crisis at hand and a
potential economic disaster looming, renewable energy efficiency is in demand now more than ever.
Renewable energy is undoubtedly a key piece in energy development, production, and
implementation. This is not going to change, our need is too great and we are constantly expanding. This
is a piece of our own growth as inhabitants ( not owners ) of this earth. SRE will in time, whether it is 100
years from now or a year from now, be the premier source of our energy production.