Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on global warming. Improvements in efficiency in power generation and utilization create reduced emissions and these technologies need to be used to retire and replace older power plants. Since solar and wind power technologies are still not comparable in cost and reliability with fossil power, there is the need to examine whether nuclear power can provide a workable solution, despite the other hazards associated with it.
Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. This warming can cause major changes to weather patterns such as rainfall, snowcap melting, and rise in sea level, changes to agricultural harvests, and certain species becoming extinct (Markham, 2009).
Electricity production accounts for 40 % of CO 2 emissions in the US (EPA, 2013). Fossil fuels coal (42%) and natural gas (26%) are the major sources of electricity generation. Nuclear power plants contribute 19% and the growing renewable energy sources account for 12%. By the year 2035, the US will need to add 957 billion kWh of electricity production over the present capacity of 4,000 billion kWh and the bulk of this new capacity will continue to be from coal and natural gas (Avro, 2012).
Though there are other sources of greenhouse gas emissions to worry about, notably from petroleum fuels used in automobiles and other transportation vehicles and from industrial processes, this paper focuses on the emissions from the power generation industry and outlines three possible steps that could be taken to reduce the impact.
The US already consumes 13,394 kWh of electricity per capita which is significantly higher than the per capita consumption in the UK (5,736 kWh), Germany (7,215 kWh), and Japan (8,394 kWh). China at present uses only 2,944 kWh per capita and India a low 616 kWh (World Bank, 2013). The economic growth in these high population countries and other developing regions of the world will create demand for electricity and that would cause more fossil fuel power plants to be built. The US and the other developed countries, therefore, need to create technologies and practices to permit economic growth without proportionate damage to the environment.
The typical break-up of energy use in a household is shown on the chart on the left and the break-up for commercial buildings on the right. Space heating and water heating make up 63% of energy usage in household electricity consumption. Lighting is the largest energy user in commercial buildings with 27% and space heating and cooling, together make up another 27%. There are opportunities for energy savings in both areas.