Other Energy Sources

                                                             Safety Comparisons

Below is the death rate per TWh from each energy source.
Energy Source                                   
Death Rate (Deaths per TWh)
Coal (World Average)
Coal (China)
Coal (USA)
Natural Gas
Hydro (World including Banqiao)
As you can see above nuclear power is the safest energy source but you wouldn’t know it
by turning on the TV or opening a newspaper.  Even wind power causes more deaths than nuclear.  Look at the link below to view the amount of deaths caused by wind power which is several times greater than Nuclear.


                                                                    Fossil Fuels


Coal provides around 28% of the world’s energy demands and it generates approximately 50% of the world’s electricity.  There is more electricity generated from burning coal than any other energy source.

Coal is the dirtiest fuel as it produces more pollution and CO2 during the energy generation process than any other fuel. Pollutants that can be found in the emissions by burning coal include nitrogen, silicon, sulfur and trace amounts of radioactive materials like uranium can be found.

Coal pollution causes 24,000 deaths per year in the United States and 400,000 a year in China. Another  5,000 die annually in Chinese coal mines.
Because of these high levels of emissions, there are health and environmental problems such as greenhouse gases (leading to global warming), water pollution, stripped forests, and acid rain.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is made primarily of methane but also includes quantities of ethane, butane, propane and pentane along with amounts of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide and helium. It is often found in coal beds and oil fields because the formation of natural gas is also dependent on a number of the factors required to create coal and oil over millions of years.

Although methane from natural gas is only thought to make up 1% of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, methane can trap heat over 20 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, so it is a potentially dangerous greenhouse gas even in small quantities.

However, EPA statistics suggest that natural gas powered cars cut carbon monoxide emissions between 90% – 97% and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25% when compared with petrol/gasoline or diesel transport.

In a gas-fired plant, the gas alone makes up 80% of the cost of electricity. So firms and consumers are very exposed to the wholesale price of gas.


Although oil is considerably cleaner than coal, it is a far dirtier fuel than natural gas. Combustion of oil is one of the world’s primary sources of carbon dioxide emissions and although both power generation and internal combustion engine technologies have made great progress in recent decades it is likely to remain the same.


Hydro Electric Power Stations 

Hydroelectric plants currently supply more than 80% of the word’s renewable energy. While hydro power is much cleaner and more cost-efficient than the generation of electricity using fossil fuels, there are a number of disadvantages including the threat of dam failures and the disturbance to the natural environment.

Hydro electric power stations work by building a dam to trap water. Water flows through tunnels in the dam to turn turbines that power generators. The dam is much thicker at the bottom than at the top, because the pressure of the water increases with depth. Hydro-electric power stations can produce a great deal of power.

Pumped storage is a method of keeping water in reserve for peak period power demands by pumping water that has already flowed through the turbines back up a storage pool above the power plant at a time when customer demand for energy is low.The water is then allowed to flow back through the turbine-generators at times when demand is high and a heavy load is placed on the system.

It surprises me that due to the incident at Fukushima Switzerland is scrapping nuclear power and relying on Hydroelectric power which is responsible for many more deaths than nuclear and probably the worst disaster to happen in the energy sector. I am not necessarily saying Hydroelectric is dangerous and shouldn't be used but find it hypocritical that the Swiss run from nuclear power because of an incident that killed no one at Fuku
shima to another that has killed so many in the most catastrophic industrial accident in history at the Bangiao Hydro Dam.

The Bangiao Hydro Dam in China collapsed in 1975 and the reservoir emptied its 120 million cubic meters of water within five hours. Human Rights Watch believes that the most likely statistics available on the death toll from the disaster is that 85,000 were killed by the immediate flood waves from the failed dams, and a further 145,000 died in the epidemics and famine which struck the area in the ensuing weeks.


One 1.8 MW wind turbine at a reasonable site would produce over 4.7 million units of electricity each year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 1,000 households, or to run a computer for over 1,620 years.

A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70-85% of the time, but it generates different outputs dependent on wind speed. In a year it will generate about 30% of the maximum output and this is known as its load factor. The load factor of conventional power stations is on average 75%,  nuclear has an average of 89% load factor.  Germany used to have an average load factor of 40% for its wind turbines but now it has dropped to 18% simply because they use their most windy locations first and then are forced to install turbines in less desirable areas.

One issue that wind turbines pose is the space they need to occupy to produce a significant amount of energy. The space occupied by wind generators is far larger than just the base of the generator. The actual footprint includes a safety zone around each generator and is at least 5 acres. Wind generation will occupy land areas of over 50 Acres per Megawatt of power output. At the most 60,000 acres would be required to produce the same power output as a large 1.2 gigawatt conventional power plant which occupies less than 200 acres of land. That means that wind turbines would use about 300 times the amount of land as conventional power plants. Onshore wind is more economical than development offshore which take longer to develop.

An electrical power grid must operate 99.9% of the time with less than a 2% variance in voltage, regardless of the load swings placed on the system. On a typical day, a major city will increase load demand on its power plants by more than a million kilowatts and it will happen within a couple of hours.

To accomplish this every generator in the grid must operate in harmony with the others. Large steam driven power plants provide base load, or the large, steady portion of the electrical load that is most predictable. Smaller generators, often gas turbines, can be started with the flick of a switch to pick up load increases.

The two essential components of all generators on the power grid are dispatchability and reliability. Wind power, as it is applied today, offers neither.

Dispatch ability means that generators can be started when operators need them, any time day or night, regardless of weather conditions. Wind power isn’t completely dispatchable; it can’t be started unless the wind is blowing.

Reliability means that a generator will, virtually every time it’s fired up, produce constant, controllable power exactly as required by the power plant operator. Wind power also fails the reliability test because, even when the wind is blowing, it rarely blows at a constant speed. Wind tends to blow in gusts with an ebb and flow that makes wind generated power difficult to control.

Solar Panels 

Solar panels collect solar radiation from the sun and actively convert that energy to electricity. The solar cells on these solar panels make use of the extremely small fraction of the sun's energy that passes through earth's atmosphere and strikes the cells on the solar collector. The efficiency of these solar panels, and the resultant energy produced is dependent on many climatic, geographic, and weather-related factors. Even at optimal efficiency, solar panels only convert a small percentage of the energy that strikes it into usable energy.

Solar energy is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours so for around half of each day, solar panels are not producing energy for your home.  Solar panels require quite a large area for installation to achieve a good level of efficiency and have average capacity factors of around 15%.

In 2012 Germany is decreasing its subsidies and support for solar power for the next 5 years as it has got out of hand and proved too expensive.

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