Energy Perspective: Is Hydroelectricity Green? Are You Thinking That Air Pollution Will Be Reduced Significantly Once the United States Switches to Electric Vehicles? Guess Again

By Childress, Vincent W. | The Technology Teacher, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Energy Perspective: Is Hydroelectricity Green? Are You Thinking That Air Pollution Will Be Reduced Significantly Once the United States Switches to Electric Vehicles? Guess Again


Childress, Vincent W., The Technology Teacher


Introduction

The current worldwide concern over energy is primarily related to imported oil, oil drilling and refining capacity, and transportation capacity. However, this concern has bolstered interest in a broader range of "green" energy technologies. Concern over the environment is well founded. The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (1998) estimates that by 2010, electrical generators in the United States will dump 182,968 tons of particulate air pollution per year. These pollutants include mercury, lead, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, and many more carcinogens and toxins that cause lung cancer, asthma, and other diseases, and degrade flora and fauna. Also released is carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. Are you thinking that air pollution will be reduced significantly once the United States switches to electric vehicles? Guess again. There may be a reduction in air pollution in busy locations, but its significance remains to be seen. China uses coal extensively to generate electricity, and the United States also uses large quantities of coal for electrical power generation. In the future when your electric car runs out of electricity, you will plug it in to a convenience outlet at home, school, or work, and you will essentially be running your automobile on coal, natural gas, petroleum, or nuclear energy sources, all of which have major problems associated with them, and all of which are the main energy sources for generating electricity in the United States.

[FIGURE 1-A OMITTED]

Concern over imported energy in the United States is well founded. Some natural gas is imported, and natural gas accounts for 40 percent of the United States' electrical-generating capacity. Petroleum accounts for 6 percent of electrical-generating capacity. Coal and nuclear are major contributors to electrical generation also (Energy Information Administration, 2007). Coal accounts for almost all of the air pollution associated with electrical generation (Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, 1998), and no one knows with great certainty how to safely store radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to the extent that humans and the environment will be protected one thousand years from now when that same waste will still be radioactive.

Could hydroelectricity be part of the solution?

Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectricity is similar to nuclear electricity in that there are very few airborne pollutants that result from the generating process during normal operation. Nuclear power accounts for slightly more of the United States' generating capacity than hydroelectric. There are currently 3,988 hydroelectric generating units in the United States--23.5 percent of all generating units. However, that only represents 7.7 percent of the electricity generated annually (Energy Information Administration, 2007). There is obviously a practical disadvantage to depending on hydroelectricity; these power plants are not always able to operate if the water supply is low.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Why Fuels Are Needed to Generate Electricity

Electromagnetic induction is a phenomenon by which electrical current can be made to flow in an electrical conductor. Copper wire is an example of an electrical conductor, and at the atomic level, copper has an extra electron in its outer shell. When that electron is caused to move from one copper atom to another, you have electrical current or the flow of electricity. Electrons in neighboring atoms are behaving the same way, so you end up with current flowing in all parts of the conductor. What can cause the electron to move from one atom to another? Magnetism. In order to induce current flow in a conductor, there must be relative motion between the conductor and the magnetic field. No matter what the source of energy used to generate useable electrical current from electromagnetic induction, the process is basically the same--move an electrical conductor in a magnetic field or move a magnetic field across an electrical conductor. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Energy Perspective: Is Hydroelectricity Green? Are You Thinking That Air Pollution Will Be Reduced Significantly Once the United States Switches to Electric Vehicles? Guess Again
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.