Clean Power

free essayClimate change has long been an impending problem threatening to change people’s lives forever. It is an important question because environmental issues are in an acute phase of crisis and greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. There are many sources of pollution, but large corporations and plants are responsible for the lion’s share of carbon dioxide, the major pollutant. Therefore, regulating power plants can help in curbing air pollution, reducing greenhouse emissions, and reversing climate change. As an opposition to this problem, countries should move to clean energy, which is “the general term for nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and bio energies” (Daim et al. 401). Given the fact that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for climate change, power plants as the major producers of it should implement new energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro- and bio energies because air and water pollution are detrimental for people’s health and environment; therefore, the state should provide long-term assistance to power plants to finance, research, and develop new sources of energy.

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Why is Dirty Energy a Problem?

Being engaged in various economic activities people have done great harm to the environment. The production of meat and milk on an industrial scale, usage of fertilizing systems to encourage large harvests, need a large number of fossil fuel for generating electricity and wood for fuel production and housing. All these types of activities release carbon dioxide and other gasses into the atmosphere and create the greenhouse effect detrimental to the environment. During the last hundred years, the reduced ozone layer made it easier for solar radiation to heat the Earth, and climate change has been developing (Edenhofer, Madruga & Sokona). The major problem of climate change is not simply that in some regions the temperatures get higher or lower but that it results in natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

How Does Clean Energy Work?

In order to solve the problem of climate change due to high carbon emissions, two plans were introduced. In 2015, President Barak Obama presented the Clean Power Plan with an aim to cut carbon pollution up to 30 percent by 2030 (Dotson). The President offers to introduce better standards and higher efficiency with the existing fuels. Next, solar energy should be made available to households. Also, investments will be made to support developments of clean energy sources. Each state is supposed to come up with its own plan to reduce emissions. The second plan called COP21 is to rely more on nuclear energy which is zero-emission and renewable sources of energy (Dotson).

Even though each and all should make some changes in their everyday behavior to help alleviate climate change, the major shift is expected from corporations and big enterprises who are chief users of energy. Along with China, the United States is the largest carbon dioxide emitter, so it has to offer a number of solutions for implementing clean energy. Under the president’s auspices, the task is to reduce carbon pollution from plants which are responsible for almost half pollution in the US (Beinecke 715). There are no legal limits for carbon pollution in the US yet. In any case, the estimates are that power plants can cut carbon pollution “up to 30 percent by 2020” (Beinecke 716). As it would lower household electricity expenses, it would allow more investments into clean energy (Beinecke 716). In order to significantly reduce carbon emissions, the country’s initiative should be supported by the government’s control. It will work only if each state joins its efforts (Beinecke 716).

What Can Be Done?

One of the primary alternatives to fossil fuels is natural gas because it is clean and does not contribute to greenhouse gasses. It can be used both for light-duty passenger cars and marine and rail vehicles. In comparison with other fuels, natural gas gives “80 percent fewer emissions of non-methane hydrocarbons, … 50 percent fewer emissions of NOx, …[and] 67 percent less carbon monoxide” (NVG). Even though natural gas fuel has pollutants such as methane, its emission of CO2 is so insignificant that it annuls the harm from methane. At the moment, natural gas vehicles already “provide the 13–21 percent reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions (well-to-wheels) compared to new diesel and gasoline vehicles” (NVG).

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Nuclear energy is one of the best sources because it has zero emission of carbon dioxide. The most important agreement for the wide application of nuclear energy is COP21 plan approved at climate change talks in Paris in 2015. Its goal is to return global average temperature to its pre-industrial levels by 2030. It can be done by using fewer fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal and relying more on nuclear and renewable energy sources. Additionally, developed countries are to help developing countries to start similar initiatives. Westinghouse Electric calls the COP21 plan “the shot in the arm that the nuclear industry needs” (Dotson).

However, if nuclear plants are going to use U-235, it will run out throughout the nearest 30 years. Uranium 235 constitutes only 1 percent of all natural deposits, so it is senseless to invest into an energy source that is no long-lasting. Meanwhile, experts say that a large percentage of natural uranium is U-238, and it can be “bread… into plutonium” or “more abundant thorium [can be turned] to U-233” (Hoffert 994). Such actions need time and careful planning. Therefore, if they are initiated now, plants will be able to use them very soon.

However, coal can serve as one of the transitive steps away from environmentally dangerous carbon dioxide emissions as it does not contain any. Being called CCS or “coal with carbon capture and sequestration,” it can be used for energy previously purifying it from pollutants (Hoffert 992). Unless new carbon taxes are introduced, it is, however, too expensive yet to build such plants. At the same time, the cost of building new plants is lower than converting existing coal plants into CCS (Hoffert 993).

As for renewable energy, up to 30 percent of it can be generated by the wind and solar power by 2050 (Hoffert 994). The US could have been much advanced in solar energy sources advocated by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, should not Ronald Reagan have destroyed his efforts and broken down on renewable energy initiatives (Hoffert 995). Meanwhile, costs for photovoltaics panels have largely dropped in the last decade at the same time offering a much better output: “Put another way, rooftop solar panels in 2012 cost about 1 percent of what they did in 1979” (Kammen 45). Solar energy can provide for the needs of ten existing civilization. Whereas solar energy potential is huge, to make it mainstream many efforts of technological and financial character are needed. Only a decade of rigorous investment and research is needed to make photovoltaics technology “cost-competitive with conventional electricity sources” (Kammen 51). If each household has solar panels on the roof and an electric car, it will help make the transition to clean energy easier. To make self-generated energy reality a close cooperation of state financing and industry research is required.

Cost of Clean Power

Before calculating the cost of clean power, a number of important steps should be made by plants. First of all, plants should be concerned in producing less waste and reducing carbon dioxide emission. Such principle will use existing energy more efficiently. Inasmuch as alternative sources of clean energy can be nuclear, wind, solar, water, and geothermal energies, it complicates decision making for investments. A deep analysis and forecasting should be implemented.

In order to predict best scenarios for investment, Bayesian maps are offered in the research by Tugrul Daim, Gulgun Kayakutlu, Yulianto Suharto, and Yagmur Bayram from Portland State University in Oregon. Taking into account the rate of industrialization, urbanization, fossil fuel production, greenhouse emission, and investments into nuclear energy and renewables, Daim et al. predict different types of scenarios both pessimistic and optimistic ones (Daim et al. 413). The data can be used by decision-makers when deciding on clean energy investments.

Consequences of Climate Change

Climate change is able to alter people’s lives in three ways. First, it changes nature by affecting sea level, weather systems, and water circulation. It results in large extinction of some species, natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, etc. As sea level rises, it will flood completely inhabited islands such as the Marshall Islands and the Maldives. Other territories would lose some of its lands. For example, in Egypt, one percent of the agricultural land will be inundated. Second, it directly changes people’s life by affecting their health and social life. If one’s homeland is flooded, it cannot but alter one’s existence radically. Third, climate change implies migration of people to more affluent and safe territories (Jamieson 590).


As for health, a large content of carbon dioxide has been already affecting people’s health, especially those with asthma and other pulmonic diseases. For example, in the last decade, the number of people suffering from asthma has increased by 1 percent. It means that by 2010, there are 25.7 million people with asthma (Kennedy 31). However, rising temperatures could contribute to the spread of infectious diseases from tropical regions such as dengue fever, cholera, and malaria. Infectious diseases are still responsible for a large number of deaths in both developed and developing countries (Jamieson 590). On the whole, developing countries and the poor in developed countries are more vulnerable in the face of the impending danger. The poor are more susceptible to develop diseases associated with pollution such as asthma. For example, among people below the poverty line, there are ten percent with asthma (Kennedy 32). Furthermore, developing countries are often the source of infectious diseases and massive migration. Unlike their more affluent counterparts, they will not be able to keep their territories safe by building “seawalls and dikes to protect coastal areas against rising sea levels” (Jamieson 590).

Conclusion

Whereas the main directions for the development of clean energy are clear, it largely depends on the government how they will be pursued. The actions should be well-thought and coordinated with long-term goals determining the strategy. Now there are many boutique companies which implement solar energy sources or windmills. However, their efforts are not enough to provide for the whole country, even though these sources of energy are very promising and are able to cover the country’s needs for electricity and energy. Therefore, a lot depends on the government as it has the leverage to use regulations to create the favorable environment. As it takes time to implement new technologies and build new plants, the existing power plants should try and frugally and efficiently use what they already have. The US can borrow experience from European countries because they have begun using clean energy long ago. Together with China and India, the United States needs to engage power plants and the communal sector in order to provide sustainability and clean energy for the country.