Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home > Environmental Chemistry (Chem 103) > Example Web Project

Example Web Project

by Gutow, Jonathan H last modified Jan 26, 2012 05:59 PM

Below you will find an example of an excellent Web Project on Alternative Energy Sources based on websites found in 1998. The links in this web project may not work because they have not been checked since they were found.

Name: Gaia Earth                          E-mail: Gaia@Milkyway.galaxy.univ
Date: a long long time ago….

Alternative Energy Sources


Summary of Website 1:

This site takes the position that wind is an effective alternative to fossil fuels for generating energy. The main argument is that wind energy has successfully replaced electrical energy generated by combustion of fossil fuels. In California windmills generate substantial amounts of electricity. Last year over 3 billion pounds of CO2 was not released because of the fossil fuels saved. Unlike the combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy, windmills do not produce the air pollutants sulfur oxides (SOx) or nitrogen oxides (NOx). Another important advantage of wind energy is that it is a renewable source of energy. Wind energy comes primarily from the sun; thus there will be wind as long as the sun shines. Because the supply of wind will not run out the price is expected to increase less rapidly than fossil fuels.

Summary of Website 2:

This site, produced by the National Gas Supply Association (NGSA), opposes the use of wind power. The NGSA states that the best wind energy sites are in the Great Plains, far from population centers, therefore transporting the energy to populated areas would add to the cost. They note that the cost to the consumer is actually greater than what is quoted by wind advocates because they use figures from areas with high wind speeds and include subsidy amounts along with tax incentives. Because wind is intermittent wind turbines only operate about 29% of the time. This means that additional energy sources or battery storage of the energy is necessary, which also adds to the expense. Although windmills do not produce air pollutants there are some environmental concerns. One of the most serious is that when birds of prey hunt for rodents among the windmills the birds are often killed by flying into the towers and turbines. Another environmental concern is noise pollution. NGSA states that one tower is half as noisy as a gas lawn mower.

Analysis of Positions:

I feel that the arguments in favor of wind generation of electricity are stronger than those against. The information in the first site may be verified by checking with the California electric utilities to determine how much electricity they have generated using wind. This suggests that the numbers presented are reliable. Since windmills do not use chemical reactions to produce the electricity they obviously cannot produce significant gaseous pollutants (however, lubricants, paints and the manufacturing process may cause some pollution). The information in the second site also appears to be quite reliable. The fraction of the time the wind blows is consistent with my personal experience. That the Great Plains is the windiest place in this country can be verified by a visit to the National Renewable Energy Lab website (, and clearly few people live there. Birds being killed by the windmills certainly seems possible. The only questionable statement is about noise pollution. This is likely to depend upon the design of the windmill and possibly even its tower. None of these problems outweigh the fact that wind energy will not run out and does not pollute. Presently, it may not be cost effective, but eventually our supply of fossil fuels will be depleted and costs will rise. The other missing piece of the argument is that the cost of electricity generated by fossil fuels does not yet include the cost of the environmental damage it causes. Thus fossil fuels are unrealistically cheap. (See: Hidden Costs of Energy from the National Academies.

Document Actions
by Gutow, Jonathan H last modified Jan 26, 2012 05:59 PM