Renewable energy

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Wind

Advantages:

  • Flexibility- can be used in large scale wind farms as well as in small individual turbines.
  • Non-polluting, environmentally friendly and sustainable- produces 50x as much energy over lifetime as is consumes by construction.
  • Produces low-cost power if developed commercially, close to zero fuel costs and low maintenance costs.
  • Could be installed off-shore to minimise visual impact.

Disadvantages:

  • Can only provide small proportion of total energy needs due to number of turbines needed in relation to space available.
  • Unslightly on-shore.
  • Infrastructure required for wind farms damages landscape.
  • Noise and vibration has potential to affect local community.
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Water

Advantages:

  • Eliminates fuel costs as it's not required.
  • Highly efficient with minimum running costs due to higly automated operation.
  • Hydroelectric plants  have longer economic lives than fuel-fired generation.
  • Set-up and construction costs are recovered in a few years as vast amount of electricity is generated.
  • Reservoirs provide improved leisure and tourism.
  • Large dams can control flooding and protect towns downstream.
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Water

Disadvantages:

  • Extremely expensive to contruct dams and power plants.
  • Flooding of vast areas of land to create reservoir required local population to relocate.
  • Rivers may be diverted, which causes problems to local community.
  • Dam failures could cause massive destruction due to flooding.
  • Can be disruptive to surrounding aquatic ecosystems.
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Solar

Advantages:

  • Huge amounts of energy available from Sun.
  • Pollution-free during use.
  • Low operating costs and very little maintenance required.
  • Produces enough electricity for the national grid to cope with peak times.
  • Local grid-connected systems can be self-sufficient.

Disadvantages:

  • Relatively expensive set-up costs.
  • Can be more expensive than other sourced electricity.
  • Relies on weather conditions.
  • Energy is lost in converting DC to AC.
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Biomass and biofuels

Advantages:

  • Relatively inexpensive source.
  • Large amounts of waste biomass materials available.
  • Production of biogas reduces the release of methane.
  • By-products of biogas can be sold and used as compost and fertiliser to improve soil conditions.

Disadvantages:

  • Ecological damage, deforestation and intensive farming practices.
  • Expensive processing costs of converting biomass into fuels with low yield.
  • Incineration cause carbon dioxide pollution.
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