Unique Ways Electricity is Generated in the U.S.

Posted by: Anna | 01/21/2014 at 01:52 PM

Unique Ways Electricity is Generated in the U.S.

The quest for safe, clean and affordable generation of power has taken us in a wide-range of directions, some of them more unusual than others. From turning warheads into power for homes and garbage into gas, here are just a few of the resources that are providing power to communities across the nation.

  • Megatons to Megawatts – Under the “Megatons to Megawatts” program between the United States and Russia, fuel from former Soviet Union nuclear warheads has been turned into energy for Americans. In fact, 10 percent of all electricity in the U.S. over the last 15 years has come from these retired weapons. Not only was this program an innovative way to produce energy, it also helped to eliminate nearly 20,000 obsolete, yet still dangerous, Cold War era warheads.
  • Biomass: Trash to TreasureBiomass energy sources are simply anything that used to be alive—timber waste, wood chips, rice hulls, corn stalks, manure and other waste. These products can either be burned directly, or allowed to ferment to produce ethanol or methanol, which is used to power turbine generators. Because the carbon it produces is absorbed by the crops grown to provide fuel for the next cycle, biomass is carbon neutral. In terms of renewable energy sources, biomass power is a continually growing part of America’s overall energy mix.
  • Highlights of HydropowerHydropower is a major part of the nation’s energy supply, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where abundant water and hilly terrain create ideal conditions for generation power using this technology. While hydropower is the source of about nine percent of our overall power supply, in that region it creates up to two-thirds of the electricity generated. Although it’s a fairly mature renewable power technology, it’s estimated the U.S. could add another 30,000 MW to its current hydropower capacity of 96,000 MW.
  • Digging Geothermal – Our traditional energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas come out of the ground. And so does a new and promising resource—geothermal.  Geothermal energy uses the natural heat of the earth to power turbines, or to directly heat and cool buildings using powerful heat pumps fueled by hot air from below ground. Geothermal is a huge, underdeveloped source of energy that we are only beginning to tap, and it’s expected to be a major part of energy generation in the future.

As strange as some of these solutions may be, they’re just a few of the many ways researchers around the world are working to provide power, reduce pollution and conserve our natural resources. Innovative and interesting solutions like these will be an important part of America’s power mix as we move into the future.

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