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Custom «"Sun, Wind and Drain"» Essay Paper

The article under consideration deals with the problems related to the use of solar energy in comparison to the conventional sources of energy in modern terms. The article is headlined “Sun, Wind and Drain” and has been published on The Economist website on June 26, 2014. The issues raised in the paper are of great importance to environmentalists, scientists, policymakers as well as everyone who is interested in the perspective use of alternative sources of energy.  The article discusses the recent conception of assessment of benefits that are drawn from the use of particular source of energy which has been introduced by Charles Frank. According to it, the solar energy is considered to be the most expansive alternative to the conventional sources of energy and the most expansive way of reduction of gas-emissions and diminishing of green-house effect.

As it has been mentioned, the article is based upon the newly introduced paper discussing the benefits of solar energy in comparison to the use of fuel or gas. The paper was headlined “The Net Benefits of Low and No-carbon Electricity Technologies” and written by Charles Frank.

From the very beginning, the author asserts that the expenses of the government on the subsidizing of developments in the sphere of alternative energy sources are beyond the reasonable limits. At the same time, he states that even though we can calculate the costs needed for the production and use of solar energy, the cost of electricity is hard to assess as it depends upon the amount of fuel used, time of plant operations, costs of capital, etc. In order to calculate all of this, the economists have invented the term ‘levelised costs’ which refers to both operational and capital expenses. However, this term keeps silent upon so-called intermittency costs. Indeed, the demand for electricity tends to increase every day, and it is often rather intense during the daytime. At the same time, wind energy largely depends on the weather; sometimes, there are calm days when no or little electricity is produced. The same way, solar energy is available only during the daytime. Therefore, I have now to agree with the author who states that even in case of costs equality, the value of electricity that is produced by alternative sources is lower than the one obtained from the conventional sources of energy.

The article goes on discussing Frank’s approach to the estimation of benefits of each energy source. He asserts that the cheapest energy source that does not produce carbon emissions is nuclear power. However, building the plants producing it is rather expansive though it is still cheaper than the further development and construction of green-energy plants, since the unstable functioning of the latter due to the factors described above requires the preservation of the conventional sources of energy.

The article ends up with conclusion that the most effective technology aimed at production of energy with zero emissions is nuclear power. The author notes that whereas most of the developed countries still support the investigations in the field of alternative energy sources, the most pragmatic ones are investing money in building nuclear plants promising both gas emissions reduction and lower price for the decrease of green house effect. It is recommended to better focus upon the reduction of emissions than financing extremely expensive projects related to the elaboration of ways of alternative energy sources use. To some extent, I agree with the author since the perspective of a widespread use of solar or wind energy is still beyond the horizon, whereas nowadays we all face the negative effects of increased gas and fuel emissions. In my opinion, the problem of the latest is more urgent thus has to be addressed first. At the same time, states should focus upon elaboration of the less expensive alternatives for emissions reduction than the use of solar, wind, or other zero-carbon energy.

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