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As construction for both commercial and residential building increases, so does the requirement for electrical power. Whether it is for heating, lighting, or cooking, everyone uses electricity every day. In 2001 there was an estimate of 107 million households consuming electricity. Seven years later, that number has surely increased substantially. How then does one try to come up with ways to supply the demand? I believe that would depend upon where you lived geographically. For us here in the Pacific Northwest, I believe the answer would be hydroelectric power. Traditionally, to create hydroelectric power, you needed a lot of water and a lot of land. Using the land, a dam is built across the water, usually a river, and a reservoir is created for a "staging" area for the water. Typically, energy would be produced using the force of the water falling from the reservoir down the dam through a sluice, and turning the turbines from the generators. Unfortunately, the cost of creating the dams and reservoirs has risen considerably over the years, and the availability of land needed for such an arrangement has diminished. Basically what is needed is the force of moving water, the turbines for the moving water to pass through, electromagnets attached to the turbines, stationary coils for the energy created by the electromagnets to pass into, and a transformer to pass all of this energy on to outside sources through power lines. Throughout the years, with the increases in populations and the growing popularity of water recreation, many of the more desirable areas for hydroelectric dams and reservoirs has decreased, and so has the construction of these facilities. There is one thing we have access to here in the Pacific Northwest that many other areas of the country do no have access to, the Pacific Ocean. Why not take the original idea of the hydroelectric dam, and modify it to suit the area around us? In a typical dam/reservoir setup, the force created by the water dropping from the reservoir down to the lower side of the dam is used to turn the turbines. The ocean's currents are constant, not needing a higher to lower sluice to move the water. Two sets of turbines could be constructed to move according to which direction the tides would be moving. This way, there would be continual movement without the worry of the turbines wearing out from a constant reversal of the turbines. From this area, cables could be run either along or below the ocean floor, for the energy created by the turbines to be passed through the generator and stored at the powerhouse to be distributed to the populations. Currently, the state of Washington uses hydroelectric power as the main power source, but with an oceanic power plant construction, Washington could be like the state of Idaho, who in 1995 obtained all of their power from hydroelectric plants. If one lived in an area where there is abundant sunshine, as in Arizona, then I would think that solar electricity would be the way to go. Photovoltaic technology converts sunlight into electricity by taking the sunlight and storing it in solar cells. In other words, the photons from the sunlight move electrons into a higher state of energy, creating electricity. According to the Arizona department of Commerce, the state has the potential to generate 1000 megawatts of solar electricity. The cells themselves have to be constructed strong enough so they do not break apart


being exposed to the elements. I can say from experience, the heat generated from the sun in Arizona is such that you can burn your hand on the car's door handle. (Been there, done that). This high to extreme heat is dangerous to items left out in the elements, not to mention the danger to humans. Plastics and rubber can dry out, crack, and fall apart. The cells have to be able to withstand extreme heat. The most efficient of the types of photovoltaic cells is the monocrystalline silicon cells. They are made from cells from a cylindrical crystal of silicon. The production process is a little more complicated than other forms of photovoltaic cells, but the approximate 15% overall greater efficiency could be worth the extra cost. Another type of cell is the multicrystalline silicon cell. These are similar to the monocrystalline cell, except that the cells are cut from an ingot of melted and recrystallised silicon. There is also thickfilmed silicon and amorphous silicon. Researchers are also looking at other materials than silicon, such as cadmium telluride and copper indium diselenide. These are less expensive than silicon to create. They are so new on the horizon the exact benefits have yet to be recorded. The solar cells create direct current, so a converter must be used to change the DC to AC. You can see examples of this in everyday life. When you see a roadside emergency phone callbox, you are seeing photovoltaic technology. By expanding on the grids of solar cells converting the sunlight, you can increase the potential of creating electricity from free sunlight. One advantage to the solar cells is there are no moving parts to wear out. The residential potential for photovoltaic technology is phenomenal. The cells can be constructed on the roofs of buildings. Another possibility is integrating the panels into the walls of the buildings. A third system would be the stand-alone photovoltaic system. To understand it on a smaller scale, think about a solar light in your front yard. During the day the cell is taking in and storing the energy from the sunlight, and then in the evening, when the sun goes down, the energy passes through the light system and the bulb comes on. There are so many ideas and opportunities out there for us to improve on capturing free elements of nature and create one of the most used commodities to date, electricity. The biggest obstacle I can see for either of these ideas is the cost of building the conversion stations, if you would want to call them anything. To build an offshore power plant for the oceanic turbines, the initial outlay of costs would more than pay for themselves in the savings of electrical power over time. The same goes for the solar power system. The savings for the individual residences would pay for the systems over time. Add into both of these systems, the tax breaks from the federal government for using alternative fuels, and the lowered emissions from greenhouse gases, the saving of the planet, and the preservation of healthy air for future generations would be a huge asset for use of either or both forms of electrical creation.

USGS Wikipedia/wind power

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