Examining St. Petersburg Community’s Sources of Energy

The St. Petersburg neighborhood is located in Florida and is one of the cities with the largest populations in the state. It is the largest of all non-county seat cities within the state. Many foreign, as well as American, tourists frequent the city on vacation owing to its generally sunny weather. This essay explores the forms of energy used in the St. Petersburg neighborhood currently. As well, it explores how the neighborhood can be supported to turn to getting energy from sources that are renewable and the related environmental implications.

Current Forms of Energy

The St. Petersburg neighborhood currently uses various forms of energy, including electricity from fossil fuel powered stations, solar energy, and energy stored in lead-acid energy accumulators, or batteries. The fossil fuel powered stations that supply electricity to the neighborhood include Crystal River Energy Complex, Anclote Plant, Bartow Combined Cycle Plant, Hines Energy Complex, and Bayboro Plant. Crystal River Energy Complex is located near Crystal River Nuclear Complex and Crystal River’s mouth. The complex began operating in the 1960s and comprises of five plants, which are fired by steam or coal. The plants, which are owned and operated by Duke Energy currently, are spread over thousands of acres. Cumulatively, the plants generate, or produce, over 3,000 megawatts of electricity annually.

Anclote Plant is located near Tarpon Springs within Holiday. It is a two-unit oil-fired steam plant. It began operations in mid-1974. Bartow Combined Cycle Plant is located adjacent to Weedon Island. It is a four-on-one combined-cycle unit comprising of four gas turbines along with a single steam turbine. The plant projects itself to the public as being efficient. It produces enough electricity to power at least 100000 households. Hines Energy Complex is adjacent to Bartow. It comprises of four gas turbines along with a single steam turbine. All its turbines are either gas-fired or oil-fired. It began operating commercially in mid-1999. It is built on a land that was originally a mine for phosphates. The land has since been reclaimed. It has cooling ponds and towers that are spread over 1000 acres of land. Bayboro Plant, which is located within St. Petersburg, comprises of four combustion turbines fired by oil. It generates 226.8 megawatts of power annually and it began operations in 1973. It is wholly owned by Progress Energy Florida. It produces as much carbon dioxide as 2512 persons. Notably, a person gives off 19 tons of carbon dioxide annually on average according to Energy Justice Network (2016).

There are a significant number of households within the neighborhood that uses solar energy. They have solar panels placed, or installed, on their house’s rooftops. Such households continue to make considerable savings on their power bills. Varied commercial solar power consumers benefit from a government funding facility that help in defraying the costs they incur when installing solar panels in their premises. Notably, many of the investor-owned utilities within Florida have been opposed to the usage of solar power as it puts own bottom-line at risk. The utilities continue top contend that solar power is inappropriate for the energy requirements of the state, projecting it as rather unreliable, inefficient, and costly. Even then, many households are procuring solar panels to help suffice their energy requirements.

There are many households within the St. Petersburg neighborhood that use lead-acid batteries, or accumulators. Lead-acid accumulators are traction batteries. They are among the cheapest of the available traction batteries. They come into two forms: deep-cycle accumulators and automobile-engine starter accumulators. Commonly, deep-cycle accumulators are used in powering household electronics, golf carts, and forklifts. Ideally, lead-acid accumulators should not undergo more than 50% discharging. Their electrolyte levels should be inspected and replenished accordingly and regularly according to Graetz (2011).

Environmental Impacts of Varied Energy Sources

As noted earlier, the St. Petersburg neighborhood currently uses various forms of energy, including electricity from fossil fuel powered stations, solar energy, and energy stored in lead-acid energy accumulators, or batteries. The sources of all these forms of energy have different impacts, or consequences, on the environment within St. Petersburg. The batteries, even though an effective and cost-effective power source, raise various human health and environmental concerns according to Graetz (2011). Even though the industry for recycling the batteries is quite successful, a considerable percentage of waste batteries are send to landfills. The charging, as well as usage, of the batteries is typified by the emission of sulfur oxides, oxygen, and hydrogen. Sulfur oxides are rather harmless if vented properly. Even then, when not vented properly, distasteful smells of sulfur and sulfur oxides escape to the batteries’ cabins following their charging. Eventually, the oxides escape to the surrounding environment (Whitehurst, 2012).

The batteries contain lead and thus are responsible for many incidences of lead contamination within the neighborhood. Waste lead batteries that are not sent to landfills have the lead in them leaking to the surrounding air as well as oil, creating varied exposure hazards. Lead is markedly poisonous to human beings. Lead contamination, or poisoning, damages the kidneys and brain. It may impact on one’s hearing adversely. It causes learning-related disabilities in young learners. At times, the sulfuric acid in the batteries leaks to the environment, ending up in water systems and the air where its makes significant contributions to acid rains. Sulfuric acid poses a number of dangers to plant, as well as animal, life within the environment (Whitehurst, 2012). The rains speed up the decaying of paint, structures, landmarks, and buildings. They damage trees and make water bodies, including lakes, acidic. In the air, sulfate particulates pose considerable risk to public health.

The generation of electricity from fossil fuels affects the environment in various negative ways. Power stations that generate electricity from the fuels have expansive cooling ponds. The living organisms, including fish, in the ponds are highly likely to die owing to the high temperatures within the ponds. The setting up of the power stations involves the clearing and destruction of various living organisms, including eagles, alligators, turkeys, ospreys, hogs, deer, and bobcats, which are all common in Florida. Other environmental impacts of getting energy from the stations are the deterioration of the quality of air, global warming, and oil spills. When fossil fuels are combusted, they emit carbon dioxide, which prevents heat from escaping to the atmosphere, occasioning global warming. As well, when fossil fuels are combusted, they emit carbon dioxide nitrous oxide and methane gases, which prevent heat from escaping to the atmosphere as well. Global warming continues making sea-levels raise as oceans become warmer and warmer and more and more glaciers melt. It is severally seen as inundating wetlands, populated areas, and river deltas. It continues to change, or alter, the traditional weather patterns, resulting into weather events that are deemed extreme.

The generation of electricity from fossil fuels causes air pollution as it leads to the release of several pollutants to the atmosphere. The pollutants include hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, suspended particulates, and carbon oxides (Whitehurst, 2012). Some of these pollutants contribute to the formation of smog. When individuals are exposed to carbon monoxide they are likely to suffer headaches and heart diseases according to Graetz (2011). When individuals are exposed to nitrogen oxides they are likely to suffer pneumonia, bronchitis, lung infections, and respiratory failures. Sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are associated with the falling of acidic rains, which make water bodies quite acidic and thus unfavorable for animal, as well as plant, life. Such rains speed up the decaying of paint, structures, landmarks, and buildings. They damage trees and make water bodies, including lakes, acidic. In the air, sulfate particulates pose considerable risk to public health. Hydrocarbons are commonly linked to the formation of haze.

Besides, the generation of electricity from fossil fuels causes water, as well as land, pollution. The transportation, production, as well as utilization, of fossil fuels, including oil, bring about land along with water pollution. When oil spills into waterways or water bodies they become inhabitable. The spills damage animal, as well as plant, life in the waterways or bodies. The mining of fossil fuels, especially coal, brings about water pollution. Notably, there are significant levels of pyrite in coal. Pyrite is a sulfur compound and forms a rather weak acid when washed by rain water. The acid enters streams and rivers in the vicinity, causing damage animal, as well as plant, life in the waterways or bodies. When coal is strip mined, the area where the coal is mined gets damaged (Whitehurst, 2012).

The generation of solar power is sustainable and clean. It does not lead to the release of emissions that lead to global warming or toxic pollution. Even then, the establishment of solar farms occasions loss of habitant and land for other uses. The farms occasion not only habitat loss but also land degradation. There are limited opportunities for solar facilities to be on the same land where agricultural activities are ongoing (Smil, 2008). Possibly, that is why solar farms are usually set up in lower-quality areas such as abandoned mine areas, brown fields, and extant transmission along with transportation corridors according to Graetz (2011) and Smil (2008). Presently, the St. Petersburg neighborhood is not exposed to the risks associated with nuclear waste. That is because the community does not have operational nuclear plants at the moment. Elementarily, that means that the community is devoid of nuclear waste.

As noted earlier, the St. Petersburg neighborhood has always utilized various forms of energy, including electricity from fossil fuel powered stations, solar energy, and energy stored in lead-acid energy accumulators, or batteries. Over time, the different power sources have affected the environment in varied ways. As noted earlier, the charging, as well as usage, of the batteries is typified by the emission of sulfur oxides, oxygen, and hydrogen. Sulfur oxides are rather harmless if vented properly. Even then, when not vented properly, distasteful smells of sulfur and sulfur oxides escape to the batteries’ cabins following their charging. Eventually, the oxides escape to the surrounding environment. The batteries contain lead and thus are responsible for many incidences of lead contamination within the neighborhood (Whitehurst, 2012).

Sulfuric acid poses a number of dangers to plant, as well as animal, life within the environment. The rains speed up the decaying of paint, structures, landmarks, and buildings. They damage trees and make water bodies, including lakes, acidic (Whitehurst, 2012). The generation of electricity from fossil fuels affects the environment in various negative ways. Power stations that generate electricity from the fuels have expansive cooling ponds. The living organisms, including fish, in the ponds are highly likely to die owing to the high temperatures within the ponds (Smil, 2008; Woodford, 2007). The setting up of the power stations involves the clearing and destruction of various living organisms, including eagles, alligators, turkeys, ospreys, hogs, deer, and bobcats, which are all common in Florida. The generation of electricity from fossil fuels causes air pollution as it leads to the release of several pollutants to the atmosphere. Even though the generation of solar power is sustainable and clean, the establishment of solar farms occasion loss of habitant and land for other uses.

 

Recommendations

            The St. Petersburg community should adopt renewable and realistic power sources. It should consider developing facilities to supply it with wind energy and solar power. It should consider setting up wind farms and solar farms. The best power source for the community is solar since the community has plenty of the required resources. St. Petersburg has a weather that favors the establishment of highly performing solar farms. The elementary input required in the solar farms is the universal light irradiance especially in the solar array planes. St. Petersburg has many clear days across the year. It has many sunny days across the year. The community has expansive open lands where it can set up solar farms, or solar parks.

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