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Thread: What kind of forms of energy are most useful today?

  1. #1 What kind of forms of energy are most useful today? 
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    Can someone give an explanation on why electric energy is one of the most useful forms of energy today? What makes some forms of energy more useful then others? What kind of forms of energy are most useful for the world.


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    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    Can someone give an explanation on why electric energy is one of the most useful forms of energy today? What makes some forms of energy more useful then others? What kind of forms of energy are most useful for the world.
    People have written books on that very subject. But consider this if it can't be marketed and sold making some people very rich it will probably not be very useful. Electric energy is one of the more useful forms because we've spent over a 100 years building the infrastructure that everyone's currently addicted to. I know I wouldn't willingly give it up, how about you?


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Electricity provides heating/cooling, lighting and power, and all at the flick of a switch. So, it offers versatility and convenience, all with comparative safety.
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    Forum Ph.D. merumario's Avatar
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    Some forms are better than others because of some considerable reasons,say: saftey,cost,accessibility.etc
    "I am sorry for making this letter longer than usual.I actually lacked the time to make it shorter."###
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    Ascended Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Today obviously electricy as that's what we all use in our everyday lives, but also light or radiation and various forms of it for communication such as mobile phones, satalites and for tv reception. We also use the stored energy in fossil fuels, extract energy from the waves, wind and solar energy. All these types of energy are really useful as we are at a stage where our level of technology allows us to use them. In the future we might look more towards light and even frequency (sound) energy, but for now these are only emergent technologies, as we arn't there yet and still have a long way to go to develop as viable mass usage energy forms.
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    Thank you for some really great answers today. Is water vapor a valuable form of energy?

    Love from Scandinavia!
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    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    Thank you for some really great answers today. Is water vapor a valuable form of energy?
    Ah yes, water vapor...
    From this:

    To this:


    Steam is powerful.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    One benefit of electricity is that it can be distributed easily and turned into almost any other form of energy as required: heat, light, movement, sound, ...

    Gas, oil, coal, etc. are also relatively easy to move around but are more limited in what they can be used for without, perhaps, going via electricity.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Which forms of energy are less useful then others.Why?
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    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    Which forms of energy are less useful then others.Why?
    I think the crux of the matter isn't which forms of energy, but which forms of conversion & harnessing technologies we currently possess are most cost-efficient vs the (in)consistency and drawbacks they might have or give in return.
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    but can you give some examples?
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    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    but can you give some examples?
    I am by no means well read on the subject of renewable energy, but I did chance upon a discussion on this subject on a forum based in my country. Of which, certain government affliated bodies have investigated the fesability of harnessing solar & tidal power in my country, and the results weren't promising. From what I am able to recall (assuming the report was accurate), Singapore being a small country that is land limited and located in a region with much heavy cloud overcast made such an endeavour impractical at the present time. And being one of the busiest port city in the region, made it similarly tedious to embark on harnessing tidal power in the same respect.I suppose the point to be made here is that these forms of energy harnessing efforts while may be technological mature or immature enough at the present time, still depends on the geographical location where they are used. That is to say, even with the most cost efficient solar panels and means of storing excess energy in power cells and porting it into the local power grid; if we (Singapore specifically) do not receive an ideal amount of harnessable sunlight throughout much of the year, it still does not justify considering this particular form of alternative energy-power move from that which we are currently using (PNG).
    Last edited by scoobydoo1; December 4th, 2012 at 07:57 AM. Reason: I do not know why my paragraphs aren't recognised when posting from my tablet as compared to a desktop computer.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    Which forms of energy are less useful then others.Why?
    I trust that this is not a homework assignment?

    Wikipedia, under 'Forms of energy' actually lists various interconversion tables.
    The following one identifies the means by which chemical energy is converted into other forms.



    I would think that glowworms, while very efficient for their species, would be a less useful source of energy for ourselves.

    http://www.johntyler.co.uk/gwfacts.htm
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    What about the solar energy, I read a certain community in Canada (if I'm not mistaken) pushing to use solar energy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by raphaelemch View Post
    What about the solar energy, I read a certain community in Canada (if I'm not mistaken) pushing to use solar energy.
    I work with a gentleman who has a solar energy business and who does installations for remote applications such as cabins and businesses off the grid. These require a significant bank of batteries to store the solar power and a generator to supplement the solar during the winter months when daylight here is at a minimum. Additionally required is a very conservative and conscientious use of energy. The batteries also require regular maintenance and eventual replacement and disposal.

    In this climate, solar has somewhat limited application and a very significant outlay of capital. According to this man in the industry, solar panels need to become far more efficient and less expensive initially if this alternate source of energy is to become more widely utilized and people need to learn to use energy far more conservatively.
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    if we (Singapore specifically) do not receive an ideal amount of harnessable sunlight throughout much of the year, it still does not justify considering this particular form of alternative energy-power move from that which we are currently using
    I don't think it's the cloudiness that's the real problem - Germany gets more power from solar than Australia does at the moment. The real problem is geographical size. You'd be trying to supply the power needs of 5 million people when your total land area is just over 700 km2 and that includes roads and other surfaces unsuitable for solar installations. A city like Melbourne has about 4 million population but nearly 9000 km2 of land, more than 10 times the area for 20% less population.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I don't think it's the cloudiness that's the real problem - Germany gets more power from solar than Australia does at the moment.
    Solar power in Germany is a bad idea. There is a lot of it because it is heavily subsidized.
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    [QUOTE=arKane;372609]
    Quote Originally Posted by arne_dexius View Post
    consider this if it can't be marketed and sold making some people very
    rich it will probably not be very useful.
    Cynicism as usual arky?
    When will you grow up?
    Help me save the Earth instead
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    We use the stored energy in fossil fuels
    Yeah! we do. Is it safe? I heard the temperature on earth will be 4 degrees higher soon. And it seems its picking up speed since nobody has predicted it should get as high as it is now so soon?

    Is there some garantee that Earth will NOT become like Venus in a short period...say 150 years or so?
    Or worse: before we all have died by natural causes? Maybe its to late to stop a feedbackeffect...
    Who can assure us were not doomed right now? Are our grandchildrens children perhaps already dead?
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    Must we not learn the truth quickly before it may be too late?

    What are, and in what order comes, the three most

    dangerous threats to the survival of mankind?

    Anyone here who can tell?
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I don't think it's the cloudiness that's the real problem - Germany gets more power from solar than Australia does at the moment. The real problem is geographical size. You'd be trying to supply the power needs of 5 million people when your total land area is just over 700 km2 and that includes roads and other surfaces unsuitable for solar installations. A city like Melbourne has about 4 million population but nearly 9000 km2 of land, more than 10 times the area for 20% less population.
    Well, I did mention that my country is rather land limited in my post. Couple that with the inconsistent harnessable sunlight as highlighted in the report I've mentioned, made it impractical to incorporate solar power into our grid at the present time compared to PNG (piped natural gas).

    The point I was hoping to make in my post was that geographical location & limitations also plays a part when considering renewable energy. Of which, the thread question asks which type of energy is most useful, and my answer (although indirect) by using my country as an example was to highlight that it is case (locale) specific too when evaluating "usefulness". Without taking into consideration other aspects that such as locale, the question would be similar to asking which type of car tires are most useful, and the answer to that will have to take into consideration the type of terrain for traction & transversing efficiency.
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    Solar power in Germany is a bad idea. There is a lot of it because it is heavily subsidized.
    Not exactly. The initial subsidies and rebates were wildly generous. But the regime of steadily and predictably reducing feed-in tariffs every year on a well-known schedule (I don't know about the panels themselves but I thought it was much the same) means that the costs of power generation are predictable and controllable. It doesn't stop people from rushing in for installations just as the current FIT is about to expire - but the industry manages that in much the same way as any other seasonal demand for heaters, swimming pools, air conditioners, outdoor furniture and the like.

    The main benefit is that there's a well run system for installing panels so you don't finish up with the situation as in the USA and a couple of other places where the installation costs (and especially the power company and local govt approvals) can be prohibitive. Our system here is pretty similar. The companies refuse to instal on a southern orientation, and they advise on the best options for roofs that are not ideally sited, but the whole process is really simple and cost effective once those individual matters are settled. There's also a built-in disincentive by only allowing the 'bonus' FIT rates up to a set domestic limit. If you put on a larger system, the additional power generated can only offset at the same rate as the power supplier charges, you can't make a profit from the government subsidy. Which also reduces predictably every year.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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