Science: Sources of Energy: Advantages and Disadvantages of Energy from Fossil Fuels (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Natural Gas

  • Natural gas is another major source of the energy in our country.
  • It is cleaner burning than gasoline, but does produce Carbon Dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.
  • Like petrol and diesel, natural gas is also a finite source, though available in larger quantities than the former.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Energy from Fossil Fuels

  • Generation of energy from the fossil fuels technology-wise is easy and relatively cost effective.
  • Fossil fuels have a very high calorific value.
  • Fossil fuels can generate huge amounts of electricity in just a single location.
  • Transportation of fossil fuels like oil and gas to the power stations can be made through the use of pipelines, making it an easy task.
  • Power plants that utilize gas are very efficient.
  • Pollution is a major disadvantage of using fossil fuels as source of energy.
  • During the process of combustion of fossil fuels a lot of toxic gases (and fly-ash in case of coal) are generated which cause pollution of the atmosphere.
  • These gases include carbon dioxide, which traps the Sun՚s heat and may be causing global warming.
  • Besides carbon dioxide, coal also gives off Sulphur dioxide which may cause acid rain.
  • The supply of fossil fuels is limited and cannot be replenished. The rate at which they are being consumed, their reservoirs are sure to run out soon.
  • Extraction of fossil fuels including coal has resulted in the destruction of wide areas of land and has endangered the environmental balance in some areas.
  • Mining of fossil fuels including coal is difficult and rated as one of the most dangerous jobs. Many times, it endangers the lives of miners.

Nuclear Energy

The atoms of a few elements such as radium and uranium act as natural source of energy. In fact, atoms of these elements spontaneously undergo changes in which the nucleus of the atom disintegrates.

Nuclear Energy

The energy stored in the nuclei of atoms can be released by breaking a heavy nucleus such as uranium into two lighter nuclei. The splitting of the nucleus of an atom into fragments that are roughly equal in mass with the release of energy is called nuclear fission.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy

  • Nuclear reactions release a million times more energy, as compared to hydro or wind energy. Hence, a large amount of electricity can be generated.
  • The biggest advantage of nuclear energy is that it does not generate any greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide , ozone , methane etc.)
  • Nuclear reactor uses uranium as fuel, and we have high reserves of uranium in earth.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

  • The waste produced after fission reactions contains unstable elements and is highly radioactive. It is very dangerous to the environment as well as human health, and remains so, for thousands of years.
  • Though large amount of energy can be produced from a nuclear power plant, it requires large capital cost.

Solar Energy

  • Solar power harvests the energy of the sun through using collector panels to create conditions that can then be turned into a kind of power.
  • Large solar panel fields are often used in desert to gather enough power to charge small substations, and many homes use solar systems to provide for hot water, cooling and supplement their electricity.
  • The issue with solar is that while there is plentiful amounts of sun available, only certain geographical ranges of the world get enough of the direct power of the sun for long enough to generate usable power from this source.

Wind Energy

  • Wind power is becoming more and more common.
  • The new innovations that are allowing wind farms to appear are making them a more common sight. By using large turbines to take available wind as the power to turn, the turbine can then turn a generator to produce electricity.
  • While this seemed like an ideal solution to many, the reality of the wind farms is starting to reveal an unforeseen ecological impact that may not make it an ideal choice.

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