Unit 44 - Industrial Power, Electronics and Storage

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Unit 44 Industrial Power, Electronics and Storage – Assignment 1IntroductionThe popularity of using fossil fuels to generate distributable electricity is rapidly declining for twomain reasons: the first being the decline in the availability as it is being removed from the Earthfaster than it can be formed, the second being the impact that the toxic gases released from therefining/burning of the crude minerals has on the atmosphere.In order the combat the negative effects caused using fossil fuels research has been led to convertenergy into electricity from renewable sources such as sunlight or wind power, with some beingmuch more efficient than others. As scientists continue their research into renewable energytechnologies the efficiencies of the product only increase and become cheaper and more accessible.Current Energy SourcesThe most common sources of energy through history have been coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear.The fact that these have been the longest running source for our electricity means that thetechnology used in the creation is already very well developed and efficient. They are alsocommonplace which makes them easier to work on due to the sustained education in the populationand the production of parts required in the running equipment.When the world became more aware of the issues surrounding fossil fuels, alternatives weredeveloped. Fossil fuels are made from the degradation of fossils, rock and biological matter overmillions of years to form coal or oils. Research led to generating electricity from sources that wererenewable and not going to deplete over time, such as wind power or the light from the sun.DemandDuring the industrial revolution between in the 1800s data shows that demand for electricity wasmaintained for a long period of time, relying mainly on traditional biofuels. Near 1900 coal began its’increase in popularity and by the time of the second world war was the forerunner for providingelectricity around the world. From 1950 onwards, after world war 2 there has been a massiveincrease in the demand for electricity around the Globe, as can be seen from the data chat below.In the last 30 years of the 19thcentury crude oil and natural gas were both introduced as viable fuelsfor generating electricity, again with a major increase in popularity from 1950. These however, areall non-renewable energy sources in which supplies are rapidly depleting and also cause major issueswith global warming via the release of pollutants during their manufacture.Renewable sources and cleaner energies have also been around pre-1900 but only on a small scalein the form of hydropower and nuclear. The other main forms of renewable electricity did not startto take hold and have any impact on supply until around 1990.From 1800, the beginning of the available data, only 5,652TWh of electricity were used over theyear, comparable to 150 years later where it was over 27,000TWh, this is a 477% increase. Thepopulation increase over this period of time went from 978 million to 2.5 billion, this is a 257%increase.2
As seen below the massive increase in demand is from 1950 to current day, the global demand ofelectricity recorded in 2018 was over 157,000TWh, which is a 581% increase. In this time thepopulation has also increased majorly, up to 7.6 billion; a 304% increase. As can be seen from thesefigures, the increase in demand for electricity is increasing at a much higher rate than thepopulation, indicating that today, people are using a lot more electricity per capita.(Ritchie and Roser, 2020)Environmental ImpactNuclear plants require lots of expensive, important equipment with many safety features as the heatgenerated in the plant comes from radioactive material. However, should any of this fail, there couldbe huge repercussions such as in the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. During this event radioactivematerial spread for miles all over Europe and Asia, in the immediate vicinity of the explosion and thesurrounding town of Pripyat there were many deaths, the total number of deaths has never beenknown but is thought to be in the tens of thousands. The explosion in this instance has also left theentire surrounding area unliveable due to the levels of radiation found, even over thirty years later.The use of the main fossil fuels generates many pollutants, the main of these pollutants beingcarbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that forms a layer in the atmosphere which trapsheat inside the environment, much like a greenhouse does, reflecting the heat back down to theearths surface. An increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere can havecatastrophic effects on the polar ice caps at the North and South Poles. As these formations of icegradually melt over time the water formed will cause a raise in the sea levels, in turn this couldpotentially reduce the amount of available land mass as shorelines around countries recede.3
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