Expedition to Mount Kazbek: Day 6 - Impressions after climbing Mount Kazbek

Possible energy sources for humanity

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Photo taken in a random place in Lithuania.

Solar power

Everyone heard about a solar power potential. One year of all the energy which reaches earth’s surface from sun is twice as much as will ever be obtained from non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium combined. In fact all renewables except geothermal and tidal power derive their energy indirectly or directly from the sun. Even fossil fuels are sun energy stored by ancient lifeforms as solar power is a dominant power source for life as well.

Photo taken on a hike to the highest mountain on Madeira island – Pico Ruivo

Geothermal power

Unlike many other types of power plants, a geothermal one doesn’t need a source of power to boil a water into steam, which generates electricity by rotating a turbine. It uses water steam heated by the Earth itself.

Photo taken in Rumšiškės open-air ethnographic museum

Hydropower

Hydropower was the first force of nature to replace human muscular labor on land. The oldest records of watermill can be found in “Pneumatica” section of “Mechanike syntaxis” written by Philo Mechanicus of Byzantium.

Photo taken at Kruonio HAE, Lithuania

Hydroelectric power

Water always moves from higher altitudes to lower ones, this happens due to the force of gravity. Hydroelectric power plants generates 16.6% of worlds electricity and 70% of renewable electricity. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed it produces no direct waste products.

Photo taken in Madeira island, Portugal.

Wave power farm

As long as water doesnt move at the same speed as wind, wind will transfer some of it’s energy to the water thus creating waves. Wave power farm is a new kid on the block, first of it’s kind started generating energy only in 2008, Portugal. This technology still needs advancement as it’s electricity is relatively expensive, but wave farms has a huge potential and surely we will se more of it in the future.

Photo taken at Cramond, Scotland.

Tidal power

As a renewable energy source tidal power main advantage is that tides are more predictable than sun or wind. Still it has relatively high cost and is not widely used as it requires technological advancement, even thought first tidal mills were built in Roman times.

Photo taken in Rumšiškės open-air ethnographic museum

Wind power

Wind forms due to a difference between atmospheric pressure. Generally air moves from colder places to warmer ones, where particle density is lower, so is the pressure. The greater pressure difference or the shorter distance between places, the faster the wind will blow. Humans started using wind power for sailing ~5500 BCE and built first windmills around 100 AD.

Photo taken of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant from the other side of the largest lake in Lithuania – Druksciai

Nuclear Fission

What we know as nuclear power is actually nuclear fission power generated by heating uranium until it’s nuclei break up, releasing approximately 8,000 times more efficient energy than one produced in fossil fuel industry. Due to nuclear power having no impact on global warming sometimes it is represented as “clean” energy, but it’s a grave mistake. Nuclear fission radioactive waste is extremely dangerous and decays in thousands or even millions of years. Still, no matter which radioactive isotope you take it sooner or later will end up as a stable lead isotope.

Photo taken at the Hill of crosses, Lithuania

Nuclear Fusion

It is the same process which occurs in the center of stars as it mimics where hydrogen molecules, due to extreme pressure and temperature collide to each other and fuse together to form helium. Nuclear fusion releases even more energy than nuclear fission and there are no harmful waste products. Even though there is a great scientific interest and a lot of research put in this technology, there is no feasible solution for nuclear fusion power plant so far. It is something mind-boggling why governments and even private sector doesn’t put more resources into this, Nuclear fusion would not only revolutionize the planet as the fuel is hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, it would provide so much energy that even absorbing carbon from atmosphere would be a possible solution on a economical level with current technology.

Mantas Ališauskas
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