Sample Engineering Essay on Sustainable Energy Report

Sustainable Energy Report

  1. Introduction

This short research report presents an overview of global warming; some of its causes and the current and future effects. It also states the need for sustainable non-polluting sources of energy, giving examples of these sources of sustainable energy, some of their strengths and limitations, as well as the suitability of these sources for the United Arab Emirates; presenting both arguments for and against the use of the renewable sources of energy in the UAE.

  • Global Warming and the Need to Adopt Non-Polluting Renewable Sources of Energy
    • Global Warming: Causes and Effects

Global warming is perhaps the biggest problem facing humanity in the current times (Thakur, n.d). Among the causes of global warming are:

  1. Burning of fossil fuel from factories, cars and production of electricity, which has increased the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Wang & Chameides, 2007).
  2.  Emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases as among the major malefactors of global warming (Thakur, n.d; National Geographic, n.d; Jian-Bin et al., 2012).

Currently there is unprecedented increase in temperatures and a change in the normal climatic patterns (Thakur, n.d). It has therefore become difficult to predict both the weather and the climate in general.

There is also an increased rate of loss of sea ice, faster sea rise levels, and prolonged and extreme heat waves (NASA, n.d). These are all as a result of the changing weather patterns as well as the increase in temperatures experienced across the world.

In the future, the increase in temperature will result in melting of glaciers, with adverse effect on seasonal cycles causing drought and flooding. An even more adverse effect will be the rarity of water, and if present, it will be contaminated with factory toxins, greenhouse gases, sludge, and chemicals from agricultural activities sipping into the water sources (Thakur, n.d). Far worse is the destruction of the ozone layer, which will increase our exposure to the sun’s radiation increasing cases of cancer.

  • Need for Green Energy

Given the threat of climate change and the need for sustainable energy and economic development, there is need for development and adoption of sustainable non-polluting energy sources (UN, 2010). While most depend on fossil fuels, they are not only great contributors to climate change; they are also finite sources of energy predicted to be depleted in the near future (UN, 2010). Further, energy remains the most critical factor for economic development and global prosperity, increasing the need for reliable, clean, and affordable sources (UN, 2010).

  • Three Forms of Non-Polluting Renewable Energy for the 21st Century

Among the three green energy sources for the 21st century include solar panels, nuclear and wind energy. This section looks at the functionality of these energy sources, their advantages and limitations.

  • Solar Panels

3.1.1 Solar Panel Overview

Solar panels are a set of photovoltaic cells, which are connected and stuck together on a supporting structure. These cells convert light into electricity (Toothman & Aldous, 2014).

3.1.2 Advantages of Solar Panels

According to Goffman (2008), it is possible to use panels even in the most remote areas where it can be expensive to connect electricity. Important is also the fact that energy from the sun comes free of cost, does not cause pollution, and cannot be depleted.

3.1.3 Limitations of Solar Panels

  1. The initial cost of installing solar panel is steep at approximately $20,000 (Goffman, 2008).
  2. The sun is not available at night, and access to the sun is usually reduced in times of cloudy weather or storms (Goffman, 2008).
  3. Batteries charged by the panels are expensive to buy, large and heavy to move and also need replacement. When they are dead, the batteries can be a major source of pollution if not disposed well.
    1. Nuclear Energy
      1. Nuclear Energy Overview

Nuclear power is produced in nuclear energy plants. These plants generate heat by reacting atoms of radioactive material such as uranium, which produce a lot of energy during nuclear fission (Brian & Lamb, 2014). The energy produced from the nuclear fission heats water, which is used to drive turbines, which produce electricity from generators.

  • Advantages of Nuclear Energy
  • Produces enough energy for industrial and domestic use
  • Does not release smoke unlike fossil fuel (Burgess, 2014), therefore has less of carbon footprint to the environment
  • Cost effective as it produces more kilowatts than coal for less the amount used in burning coal.
  • The waste materials can be processed again and be consumed in the reactors (Burgess, 2014). This reduces the danger of radioactivity to the atmosphere.

3.2.3 Limitations of Nuclear Energy

  1. Accidents in the reactors can have devastating effects on the environment, humans and ecology as was seen in Chernobyl and Fukushima (Burgess, 2014)
  2. Uranium deposits are bound to be depleted soon and it is therefore not an infinite source of energy as solar and wind (Burgess, 2014).
    1. Wind Turbine
      1. Wind Turbine Overview

Wind turbine works in that huge turbines utilize the wind to generate electricity. The blades are turned, spinning a shaft connected to a generator that consequently generates electricity (US Department of Energy, n.d).

  • Advantages of Wind Turbine
  • Wind power is a renewable source of energy (The Guardian, 2012).
  • Research is in progress to store wind energy during times of excesses to be used when the wind is low.
    • Limitations of Wind Turbine
  • Wind power is only available when the wind is blowing (The Guardian, 2012).
  • Onshore wind power has been indicated as having visual impact especially to plane flying in these areas (The Guardian, 2012).
  • Wind power generation has been known to kill birds from the turning blades.
  • Discussion

UAE is located in Southwest Asia and is a combination of seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah covering 83,000 square kilometers (Ministry of Energy, 2006). The UAE’s weather is generally hot and dry, with temperature going above 400 C.

The region’s reception of sunlight makes solar panels the most appropriate clean energy for UAE.  While the initial installation of solar panels may be expensive, running to a cost of more than $100 (Yee, 2013), solar panels present the best alternative for green energy for the region. Given the region’s recent exponential growth, however, solar panel may not provide sufficient energy for industrial growth (Alderman, 2010; Shadbolt, 2014), therefore, nuclear energy provides the other alternative for green energy.

Although the region continues to experience problems with solid waste management (Alderman, 2010), the construction and running of a nuclear energy plant includes nuclear waste management. Thus, although accidents may be devastating as was seen in Japan (Khlopkov, 2011), proper nuclear waste management plans alleviate the risks and devastation anticipated with such incidents.

  • Conclusion

This report has looked into global warming, its causes, and effects. It also looked at different forms of green energy, their advantages, and limitations. The report additionally looked at the climate of UAE, and proposes solar panels and nuclear energy as the most probable sources of energy for the country.

  • References

Alderman, L. (2010). Dubai Faces Environmental Problems After Growth. The New York Times, 10 October. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/business/energy-environment/28dubai.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Brian, M. & Lamb, R. (2014). How Nuclear Power Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-power1.htm

Burgess, J. (2014). 10 Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power. Discovery. Retrieved from http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-pros-cons-nuclear-power.htm

Goffman, E. (2008). Why Not the Sun? Advantages of and Problems with Solar Energy. Discovery Guides. Retrieved from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/solar/review.pdf

Jian-Bin, H. et al. (2012). Debates on the Causes of Global Warming. Advance in Climate Change Research, 3(1):38-41. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CE8QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.climatechange.cn%2FEN%2Farticle%2FdownloadArticleFile.do%3FattachType%3DPDF%26id%3D8400&ei=aYVxU587gqrRBbDtgbAM&usg=AFQjCNH-t5fcCIWyAJt4BpfjwYOlXfOLUw&sig2=jN4BnDLXlcAesTsIrDDv9A&bvm=bv.66330100,d.ZGU

Khlopkov, A. (2012). Prospects For Nuclear Power In The Middle East After Fukushima And The Arab Spring. UNIDIR. Retrieved from http://www.unidir.org/files/publications/pdfs/prospects-for-nuclear-power-in-the-middle-east-after-fukushima-and-the-arabic-spring-402.pdf

Ministry of Energy (2006). The United Arab Emirates: Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ministry of Energy. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/arenc1.pdf

NASA (n.d). The Current and Future Consequences of Global Change. NASA. Retrieved from http://climate.nasa.gov/effects

National Geographic (n.d.) Causes of Global Warming. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-causes/

Shadbolt, P. (2014). Can Wind towers take the heat off UAE’s air-con addiction? CNN, 3 January. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/02/world/meast/dubai-can-wind-power-take-the-heat/

Thakur, S. (n.d). Global Warming-Causes, Dangers and the Solutions. Retrieved from gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Research Papers-Ecology – Life/Social Sciences/Download/1272

The Guardian (2012). Onshore wind energy: What are the pros and cons? The Guardian, 25 September. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/25/climate-change-windpower

Toothman, J. & Aldous, S. (2014). How Solar Cells Work. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/solar-cell1.htm

UN (2010). Energy for a Sustainable Future. New York: UN. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/wcm/webdav/site/climatechange/shared/Documents/AGECC%20summary%20report%5B1%5D.pdf

US Department of Energy. (n.d). How do Wind Turbines Work? Retrieved from http://energy.gov/eere/wind/how-do-wind-turbines-work

Wang, J. & Chameides, B. (2007). Are Humans Responsible for Global Warming? A Review Of The Facts. Environmental Defense Network. Retrieved from http://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/5279_GlobalwarmingAttributuion.pdf

Yee, A. (2013). Dubai has to invest estimated $100m in solar panels to meet Expos target. The National, 8 December. Retrieved from http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/energy/dubai-has-to-invest-estimated-100m-in-solar-panels-to-meet-expo-target