Comparison of sources of energy

Solid fuels vs. Liquid fuels:


Solid fuels produce large quantity of ash after burning, whereas liquid fuels leave no or very little ash after burning. Liquid fuels require less storage space. But they are costly as compared to solid fuels. Further they require special type of burners for their burning. Also there is danger of explosion in the case of liquid fuels.

Solid fuels vs. gaseous fuels:


Gaseous fuels do not produce ash. Also greater cleanliness is assured as smoke is practically nil. Handling of gaseous fuels is not required as they can be easily piped into the furnace. However there is danger of explosion for gaseous fuels.

Availability of source of energy:


The steam power plants depend upon coal which is exhaustible. For a hydro – power plant the availability of water depends upon the natural phenomenon of rain. Solar, wind and tidal energies are inexhaustible.

Capacity of power plant:


The capacity of power production of steam or hydro – power plant may be high. Diesel power plants are limited generation capacity.

Air pollution and radiation hazard:


In steam power plants there is nuisance of smoke and air pollution. In nuclear power plants radio-active waste is a health-hazard. Hydro-power plant has no such air or waste disposal problem.

Cost:
The capital cost of a steam power plant using coal is less than a hydro-electric power plant. However, the operating cost of a steam power plant is higher than that of a hydro-power plant. Initial cost of a nuclear power plant is the highest whereas its running cost is perhaps least of all.

Location of power plant:

Steam power stations can be located at the load Centre whereas a hydro-power plant has to be located where water is available in large quantities. The nuclear power plants are best suited for areas far remote from coal reserves and water power.

Renewable resources:

The advantages of renewable resources like hydro power, solar power, wind power and tidal power are enormously attractive. Of these, hydro-electric power is the best developed, providing 8% of the world’s energy supply in the form of very cheap electricity (1/8 and ½ of the cost of fossil fuels and nuclear generated electricity).

The major problem associated with renewable resources is our inability to store large quantities of energy either in the form of heat or as electricity. The diffuse or dilute nature of renewable resources means that large area of land or ocean is necessary to accommodate solar collectors, 30 km square for a solar power station or 1000 wind mills with 90m blades set 250m apart to replace the nuclear power plant on a square km site. The use of renewable resources can only come slowly, as the development of technologies has a very long time scale. It is a fact that the use of renewable resources such as solar, wind and tidal energy are likely to prove far less hazardous as compared to depleting fossil and fissible fuels.

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