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Recognizing raw energy costs in VS .NET
Recognizing raw energy costs
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Taking a look at the relative costs of different types of raw energy is illuminating (By raw, I mean the cost at delivery to your home; this doesn t take into account how you may actually use the energy within your home, or how much the equipment costs to convert the raw energy into usable form) Relatively speaking, electricity is the most costly, nuclear energy is the cheapest, and a bunch of other types of energy fall somewhere in between (see Table 2-1)
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Table 2-1 Comparing Raw Energy Costs
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Type of Energy Electricity Liquid propane gas Gasoline Kerosene Heating oil Natural gas Coal Wood Uranium (nuclear) Cost (in $) per Million Btu $ 293 $ 1854 $ 1519 $ 1111 $ 1082 $ 1000 $ $ $ 952 750 000033
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Btu stands for British thermal unit, a standard unit of energy equal to 754 kWh, or kilowatt hours (one thousand watt hours) To put this into perspective, a typical incandescent light bulb consumes around 75 watts, and so in a ten-hour evening consumes 750 Wh Typically, large appliances like heaters and air-conditioners are rated in Btu, while smaller devices are rated in watts No technical abracadabra here, just tradition
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Part I: Solving the World s Problems from Your Front Porch
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As Table 2-1 shows, electricity is by far the costliest energy source This is because the power transmission grid, the huge matrix of power wires and transformers used to get the power from the utility generators to your home, is so big and unwieldy Think of it this way: When you generate solar power on your roof, it s created and used within a space of a hundred feet, maybe less But when you use electricity from the grid, the production chain begins in a coal mine, then the coal must be transported to a power plant, and then power is generated in huge, expensive machines This electrical power gets transmitted over long lengths of wire until it finally reaches your home Several companies are involved a coal mining company, a transport company, and a utility company with linesmen, managers, secretaries, lobbyists, and lawyers not to mention that a whole host of governmental regulations have to be met, and taxes and tariffs need to be paid Even though electricity is the most expensive, it s used almost exclusively in a majority of homes Why Because it s the most convenient way to use power All you have to do is plug in to a wall socket and voil ! You don t need a storage tank (like you do with propane or fuel oil), and you don t have to worry about the danger of explosions or flames (although you can get a shock without even trying too hard) You don t need to go into the woods with a chainsaw and cut it down, and you don t need to stack it on the side of your house and keep the spiders out of it Best of all, the utility company is responsible for maintaining a continual flow into your home
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Looking at actual energy costs
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Raw energy cost, explained in the preceding section, is only part of the picture Most energy sources need to be burned or combusted on-site in order to extract their potential energy Some conversion methods are more efficient than others The list in Table 2-2 shows the same fuels as those listed in Table 2-1, but this time with all the various production factors that come into play
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The link between coal and electricity
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Due to its high carbon and sulfur content, burning coal is extremely dirty Coal byproducts are the leading contributor to global warming (nearly 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide are produced each year in the United States alone; China has surpassed this) Mercury is another byproduct; it pollutes air, land, and water Because about 90 percent of the coal produced in this country is used to produce over 50 percent of our electricity, electrical power is generally a very polluting source of energy Reducing electrical usage is always a good idea, especially if you re concerned about pollution and global warming
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