As time goes by the issue of global warming becomes more and more of a reality. Global warming is caused by carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gases” being released in the atmosphere. Of course, gas powered cars release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere helping global warming. But, a large majority of carbon emissions are produced by power sources like coal plants that release carbon into the atmosphere. These coal plants produce the most amount of carbon dioxide in the air than any other sources. The cheap price and the easiness of producing power with coal is a big factor in why society is still using these power plants. But According to the article “Coal Plants Lock in 300 Billion Tons of CO2 Emissions” written by Bobby Magill. Magill explains “Coal-fired power plants are the largest contributors to the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which last year reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history.” To counter this many are suggesting switching to carbon-free sources of power. Carbon free sources would be able to produce the same amount of energy as coal power plants but at the same time being environmentally conscious. For example, wind, solar, and nuclear are carbon-free sources of power that can prove to be great counters to produce energy.
To better understand carbon free energy society needs to first understand what they are currently putting in their atmosphere. Currently the largest source of power in the United States is burning coal. Coal plants heat up coal to produce steam and turn a turbine to power a generator. Even though this process of burning coal is extremely cheap, doing this releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide or greenhouse gasses is the main cause of global warming. Amanda MacMillan in her article “Global Warming 101” MacMillan puts global warming in perspective by describing, “Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history.” Basically, global warming is the overall average temperature increasing from the increase levels of carbon dioxide that we are currently putting into the atmosphere. This increase in temperature can become extremely damaging to our environment. Carbon free refers to absolutely zero power plants operating in a way the produces carbon dioxide. Meaning if carbon free would take full effect all carbon-based power plants would need to be shut down and replaced with carbon free alternatives that are good for the environment.
Renewable sources like wind and solar are great renewable sources to produce clean energy. Renewable sources operate by taking in zero one use materials like coal. Instead renewable sources use resources like wind and sunlight to operate and produce energy, releasing zero carbon into the atmosphere. Wind power plants operate similar to how a sail on a sailboat operates. A sailboat uses wind to move itself in the direction of the wind. But unlike sailboats wind turbines harness the power of the wind to turn larges blades that move a rotor powering a generator to produce energy. From the article “How Do Wind Turbines Work” from the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy they state, “A wind turbine turns wind energy into electricity using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades, which work like an airplane wing or helicopter rotor blade.” Another viable renewable energy source that has been gaining large amounts of popularity is solar power. From Live Science in their article “How Do Solar Panels Work?” the author explains “a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity.” Solar panels do have an advantage over wind turbines, instead of needed a large space almost anyone can install solar panels. A popular trend currently is to install solar panels on the roofs of houses. This makes solar panels extremely desirable to average homeowners making solar panels a great addition to a network of carbon free energy sources.
When society first thinks about clean carbon free energy sources most will just think of renewable sources like wind and solar. But nuclear power in another great energy source that is completely carbon free. In the article “How a Nuclear Reactor Works” From Nei, the author states, “Coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear energy use their fuel to turn water into steam and use that steam to turn the turbine.” But where nuclear differs from coal plants is they do not heat anything to create steam to turn turbines. The uranium atoms do all the work and create fission that turns the turbines to create energy. Most concern around nuclear power is the safety issue but, reactors have become extremely safe with new technological advancements. The high upfront price of building nuclear reactors have turned many away, but nuclear power plants produce a large amount of energy and can operate for a large period. This makes nuclear power plants extremely efficient in the carbon free energy system,
Carbon free refers to power plants that can operate and generate energy in a clean way that does not emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. In the article “Going ‘Zero Carbon’ Is All the Rage. But Will It Slow Climate Change?” Nathan Rott describes Carbon free as, “A state would be getting all of its electricity from renewable or clean sources like solar, wind or nuclear.” Essentially carbon free is releasing zero carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To stop the rapid growing problem of global warming and the average temperature growing carbon free energy is by far the best counter. Even though society relies on coal plants and other sources of energy that release carbon it is possible to go completely carbon free with clean sources of energy. Instead of just using complete renewable energy systems like wind and solar to produce clean carbon free energy society should be looking to expand. Utilizing more of nuclear power with the use of renewable sources can push society into a complete carbon free power grid.
Magill, B., & @bobbymagill, F. (2014, August 28). Coal Plants Lock in 300 Billion Tons ofCO2 Emissions. Retrieved from https://www.climatecentral.org/news/coal-plants-lock-in-300-billion-tons-of-co2-emissions-17950/
MacMillan, A. (2020, March 9). Global Warming 101. Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101
How Do Wind Turbines Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/how-do-wind-turbines-work
How Do Solar Panels Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/41995-how-do-solar-panels-work.html
How a Nuclear Reactor Works. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nei.org/fundamentals/how-a-nuclear-reactor-works