Energy Use in the United States Essay

Submitted By crogan5
Words: 1074
Pages: 5

Before the Industrial Revolution the United States energy uses were very simple. Animals were used for transportation by land, and win was used to navigate the waters. Animals were also used for labor in which man power was not enough to get the job done. Flowing water was captured and used to run mills and boats. Eventually steam engines took the role of most of these techniques. They were used to power vehicles, factories, and farming equipment throughout the country. The popularity of the steam engine did not last long however. After the discoveries of electricity, and the vast availability of coal, our countries energy use would never be the same. Automobiles became easily available to the average American citizen, and therefore the average citizen could travel at will to much farther distances than ever before. As the United States expanded outwards, so did the need for electricity. Nuclear power plants started emerging, and power lines reached to every corner in the country. Throughout the 20th century, the demand for energy has only grown, and technology has discovered new means of obtaining it.

The United States biggest sources of energy are coal, natural gases, and nuclear power. Coal is cheap and very abundant in the United States. The biggest problem with using coal as a source of energy is that it emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Coal and other petroleum products are the highest contributors to the greenhouse effect and global warming. This has gotten a lot of attention lately and the United States are looking for ways to cut back the use of coal, and other petroleum products. The consumption of oil has gone down recently due to its increasing prices, and technological advances. Many advances have been made in the automobile industry that have allowed cars to run on much less oil than ever before. The US gets a large amount of its oil supply from other countries, and is hoping to limit its reliance on them by reducing our consumption, and looking for alternative energy sources. Using recycled products from bio fuels could be a much cheaper way for us to satisfy our oil needs. Nuclear energy seems to be the most popular energy source in the United States. They have been front runners in the field of nuclear power since World War II, and generate to most nuclear power in the world today. The process of using nuclear reactions to generate steam, and power generators is very clean, and creates no air pollution. The only problem is what to do with the radioactive waste left behind. For now the waste is just left on site, but thoughts of burying it in Yucca mountain have came to mind. President Obama declined the idea because the risks to the surrounding environment and people were too high. Different ways to store the radioactive waste must be considered in talks of the future of nuclear energy use in the United States.

An alternative source of energy is renewable energy including wind solar, and geothermal power. These sources would prevent all air pollution and risk of radioactive damage. A plan to increase our energy from these sources would have to be well thought out, due to the unreliability of nature. Windmills could be placed strategically in open fields and high altitudes to obtain the maximum amount of wind power. Solar panels could be built throughout the country so a certain amount would be located in sunny weather at all times during the day. Of course some areas would not have access to wind and solar power at given times, but other areas across the country might. Geothermal energy also must be placed strategically. Geothermal power plants are built in areas known as hot spots, where oceanic and crystal plates collide and slide apart. In this area they can access the heat generated below the crust to power generators. Although the windmills, solar panels and geothermal power plants are initially quite costly to build, they are