Saturday, July 2, 2022

Energy Sources and Land Use

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability, Global Change, Pollution, Climate Change, Nature of Science, Maths,

Ed Hessler

The environmental impacts of different energy sources include land, water, natural resources for fuel and manufacturing, etc. Energy sources are different and so are the variety of environmental impacts.

Our World In Data has a chart and a short accompanying article on how much land various sources use. They are based on life-cycle assessments. 

About such assessments, Hannah Rithie writes,"These cover the land use of the plant itself while in operation; the land used to mine the materials for its construction; mining for energy fuels, either used directly (i.e. the coal, oil, gas, or uranium used in supply chains) or indirectly (the energy inputs used to produce the materials); connections to the electricity grid; and land use to manage any waste that is produced." 

Context and the type of material also are influential, sometimes mattering a lot, e.g., whether cadmium-based or silicon-based panels.

Rithie calls attention to an issue in presenting data about wind. It she says "must be considered differently" because some of it is offshore and "land between turbines," can be "used for other activities."

Rithie closes with a discussion of the potential effects of location and "what the alternative uses of that land are."

Charts are sometimes daunting, easily skipped over, but one value is that they condense a wealth of data in one place. As such they become valuable aids to understanding and thinking, the promotion of discussion and the generation of questions.

The article includes the sources for the chart, also very important information, too. 

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