Monday, December 22, 2008

Alternative Resources and Possibilities for Alternative Energy in Washington DC

Energy efficiency, rather than the more conscience-based energy conservation, is a technology-based harnessing of natural resources for power. Conservation seeks to use less energy by turning on lights less often, watching less television, etc, and thereby using less power, but energy efficiency is a science that allows for us to do the same things we normally do, only what we use needs less resources to work. Examples of this science are compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and high efficiency air conditioners, refrigerators, boilers, and chillers which all use less power than their non-efficient counterparts, though they work just as continuously and perform just as well. The following is a list of green energy methods that could be used in the state of Washington D.C., as well as how efficient these methods would be for the area.

The District of Columbia is not a sufficient source for plant or animal biomass energy supply, as there are little to no resources for such a power force. Biomass energy is defined as matter grown to generate electricity or produce bio-fuel, such as coal for burning or corn ethanol as a gasoline alternative.

D.C. has a low enough temperature to be able to harness the resources of geothermal heat pumps, which could be tapped though the power supplied would not be enough to generate enough electricity for the city. The way geothermal heat pumps work is that they utilize the Earth's ability to store heat in the ground and in water thermal masses to power heat and air conditioning systems. They work based on the stability of the ground's natural temperatures, as the earth a few feet below the surface maintains a generally stable temperature year-round.

Hydropower resources are a limited option for the area, but they could power only a portion of the state's electricity. D.C. has in fact only a limited natural stream water energy resource, as hydropower is generally electricity generated by the gravitational force of flowing water.

Solar power harnesses the sun's radiation to create electricity. D.C. is a prime candidate for this type of electricity power, as urban places are generally good candidates because an abundance of rooftops are key in setting up panels to generate solar power. If these were put in place in the state, they would generate enough power for water heating or PV systems. Solar power could not be used for the more heavily sustained and power-draining thermal utility systems, though D.C. is an excellent candidate for concentrating collectors of solar power, as opposed to flat-plate solar tools.

D.C. does not have enough wind resources to utilize any kind of large wind turbines, though small wind turbines could be applicable to the city's power system, as long as they were build atop tall buildings. The power of the wind is harnessed by three-bladed turbines that resemble pale windmills constructed of incredibly large toothpicks.

Saving energy through efficiency is also cost efficient, as opposed to the construction of new power plants. The District of Columbia should focus its time and resources on the above methods of powering the state, because they are not only financially responsible but environmentally responsible.

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