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"The future of our children The future of our planet It's in OUR hands That's why energy matters" -Unknown

Energy Quest Project


What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy that is created using natural resources such as, sunlight, wind, waves, rain, and geothermal heat. These natural resources are infinite, which means there is an endless amount of them. These are called renewable energy resources. 

Hydroelectric energy comes from dams, which are situated on rivers. The water produces energy and is controlled by the power plant. 


- Environment friendly

- Cheap

- Efficient 

- Powerful 

Hydroelectric Energy


- A river, or other large moving body of water has to be in the surrounding area 

- Can be destroyed by natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes

Uses of Hydroelectric Energy:

Cities like Nashville, which have a river nearby, are often powered by dams. They provide large quantities of energy and are popular because they take up space on water rather than land, which can be used for businesses and homes.

Power is generated by either allowing photons to move electrons, thereby generating electrical current (photovoltalic) or concentrating the sun's light to heat water (concentrated solar power CSG). 



-Systems last 30-50 years

-Most abundant source available

-Small systems can be installed on existing roofs 

Solar Energy


-Dependent on sunny weather- may need supplementary energy 

-High initial cost 

-Farms require large space 

-Rare material (polysilicon) required for panels

Uses of Solar Energy:

Solar energy is primarily used to power residential consumers, to a lesser extent commercial buildings.

Wind energy can be created by using the wind flow to move large wind turbines. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy from the wind into the kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for many specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity to power homes, businesses, schools, and others.


-Free, renewable resource that will always be around

-A source of clean, nonpolluting electricity 

-Offsets emissions of carbon dioxide, and other pollutants

Wind Energy 


-The technology used to produce wind energy requires a higher initial investment than fossil fueled generators 

-Concern over noise produced by rotor blades, aesthetic impacts, and birds and bats having been killed by flying into rotors

-Wind cannot be stored and not all winds meet the timing demand of electricity demands

Wind energy can be used by farmers who grind grain, or provide the power needed for a water pump. Wind energy can also be used to provide power to generators that give homes, buisnesses, schools, and etc. power. 

Uses of Wind Energy:

Geothermal Energy

Water is pumped through pipes which are run down deep into either hot rock, or reservoirs of hot steam and water. The stem is then pumped back up in order to spin a turbine which is connected to a generator. This form of energy comes from the ground, making it completely renewable.


  • -No pollution

  • -Clean

  • -Renewable

  • -Cheap to build

  • -Low energy costs

  • -Doesn’t need things to be trucked in, making it ideal for islands or other remote locations.


  • -Relatively low power output

  • -Requires a good location to be built upon as it won’t work everywhere.

  • Geothermal energy cam be used for power generation and heating homes in the wintertime. 

Uses of Geothermal Energy:

What is nonrenewable energy?

Nonrenewable energy is energy that is finite, which means that it will eventually run out. Nonrenewable energy sources such as, fossil fuels, are found beneath Earth's surface.


-Abundant and a major source of energy 

-Cleaner then other fossil fuels


-Production of natural gas creates more jobs 

Natural gas is found deep beneath the earth's surface. Natural gas consists mainly of methane, and small amounts of hydrogen gas liquids and non hydrogen gases. 

Natural Gas


-Natural gas is itself a powerful greenhouse gas

-Nonrenewable resource once its gone, its gone

-Accidental gas leaks and flaring cause major natural gas emissions 

-Fracking poses substantial environmental concerns, such as earthquakes 

-Aging and vulnerable to leaks and emissions 

Natural gas is used as a fuel and to make materials and chemicals.

Uses of Natural Gas:

Oil does not typically produce electricity by itself, however it can be used by conventional stream and combustion turbine methods. In the first method, burned oil heats water into steam which generates power. In the turbine method, oil is burned and the gas then spins a turbine. 



-Creates jobs

-Used to power vehicles 

-Efficient when used as fuel



-Does not work well for producing electricity 

-Pollutes the environment 



It can be used to produce electricity, but does not work well in that sense. Oil is used for things like cars or being burned to produce energy required to move a generator that can produce more efficient electricity (water, turbines).

Uses for Petroleum:

Nuclear fission creates energy by using a fuel source such as uranium and splitting an atom, causing a burst of energy.


-Environmentally safe 


-Doesn't take up much space 

-Creates jobs

Nuclear Fission 


-The possibility of a meltdown 

-Technically nonrenewable

-Toxic waste can be produced which is often hard to maintain 

Nuclear energy is popular and efficient for providing electricity and powering a variety of technology because it provides a large amount of megawatts per hour.

Uses of Nuclear Fission:




-Inexpensive to mine

-Capable of high energy outputs


Coal is burned, generating high amounts of heat. This is used to create steam from water, which in turn, powers turbines that generate the electricity. 


-Mining is dangerous for miners 

-Emits high amounts of greenhouse gases; large negative environmental impact

-Limited resource

-Habitat damage from mining 

Coal can be used by industrial businesses, as well as powering residential and commercial buildings.

Uses for Coal:

Nashville, Tennessee: Best Energy Resources

For this assignment, we have picked task 3 which is to pick a city and study it to determine the ideal form(s) of energy that would be ideally suited to that city. The types of energy that we’ll be researching and evaluating are Solar, Coal, Hydroelectric, Petroleum, Wind, Natural Gas, Geothermal, and Nuclear Fission. The factors that will be taken into consideration include natural resources present in the city, the energy demands of the city, the amount of available space available, the level of pollution produced by each type of plant, the number of people living around the proposed site, the city’s past and present stance on the proposed energies, reliability of the plants to consistently generate power with as few interruptions as possible, the safety of the plants themselves, required infrastructure to build and sustain them, how hardened they are to the common natural disasters of the proposed location, the cost of operating, electricity costs that will be required to make it profitable, if the required infrastructure is already in place, if not how much would it cost to build it, and how many of them will be required to provide the amount of power necessary to satisfy peak demand +5-10% for peace of mind. The city that we have chosen to base our proposal off of is none other than the Tennessee state capitol, Nashville! This city was picked due to John living there and it being a big enough city to really present some challenges to us in the planning phase in many aspects including population, location, space, and rapid growth. At the end, we’ll tie all of our findings together, organize them into a pros vs cons sheet for each resource, and make a decision based off of what we feel to be the ideal power set up for Nashville conforming to the listed ,aforementioned factors.

Energy Evaluation 

Nashville’s power demand: Since no data was available exclusively for Nashville in this area, we had to improvise a bit. Nashville has 249,002 homes in its jurisdiction, according to the Census Bureau, and Houston has 814,599 homes within its jurisdiction, also according to the Census Bureau. Houston was picked due to it not being a mega city, like New York and Los Angeles, so that we could eliminate factors like countless amounts of skyscrapers, subways, etc and the fact that we know Houston’s peak energy demand. During their highest time of peak demand, Houston required 70,169 mWh which put a monumental strain on their grid and even set a new record for them in power draw. Doing some quick napkin math shows that 249,002 divided by 814,599 gives us roughly .30 meaning that Nashville’s power draw should be around ⅓ that of Houston’s. This means that Nashville’s power demand should be in the neighborhood of 21,387.1 mWh at peak demand, in which we have based all of our power requirement calculations off of.

Calculations and other various information

As we know, solar power is energy derived from solar light. And there are multiple ways of doing this. The two main ways are CSP and photovoltaic cells. CSP (concentrated solar power) solar panels utilize mirrors to concentrate solar light to heat water, which powers an ordinary generator. Photovoltaic converts the light directly into energy by allowing light photons to knock electrons off atoms, thereby creating a flow of electricity. This means it relies entirely on availability of solar light. The obvious consequence of reliance solely on solar power is the downtime during overcast. It would have low reliability, and is often paired with other forms wherever it is implemented to avoid blackouts during the night, or when a cloud rolls by. For most of middle/east TN, the average kWh produced per m2of solar panels is about 4-4.5 kWh, which is mediocre at best for a city the size of Nashville. This also means that, to produce any noteworthy amount of energy for the city, we would need space, lots of it. And, being a city, we don’t have much of any space available. The tops of buildings can, however, be outfitted with photovoltaic, but solar panels have a high initial installation cost no matter where it is. They’re relatively fragile, so they are susceptible to natural disasters (the exception being flooding if they are on a roof). On the upside of these things, it is a 100% clean resource, and photovoltaic cells have minimal upkeep cost and maintenance, and need for infrastructure. CSP would need a separate generator, and although is more efficient, it has the highest levelized cost of any energy resource to buy, and takes longer to build the plant. Overall, I don’t think that solar farms are viable for usage as a major power source in Nashville, although personal photovoltaic cells are viable for those who want to generate their own power. 


Final Verdict:

Solar power does not produce enough energy to outweigh the cost of purchasing large swathes of land, especially near a city like Nashville, not that there is space for it anyway.

Coal is the world’s leading source of energy, due to its availability and therefore inexpensive acquisition. It’s also well known for its highly damaging environmental effects. This in itself would prevent any real implementation of a coal plant near Nashville, as the people would not tolerate a coal plant so close to their homes, but we will continue regardless.  The plurality of the energy produced in Tennessee comes from these coal plants, sourced by mines lining the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Alabama. Coal plants have decent efficiency, circling around 40%, with about 8 kWh being produced per 1 kg coal burned (with complete combustion). Plants are lackluster on their energy produced, with lows of 10 MW and highs of 2,000 MW and the average having around a 600 MW nameplate capacity, which would mean it would take about 35 of these to power Nashville. Although, coal plants are also historically pretty reliable, in the sense that they are often the backup systems (when they aren’t the main source) for other, less reliable ones, such as solar and wind, and hold an uptime of about 70-75%. In addition, they are relatively safe as far as health of workers goes. Employees aren’t exposed to the fumes, which are flushed directly into the air, after passing through scrubbers in the exhaust stacks. They clean the smoke of any dangerous chemicals for the environment, which means they don’t look like the imagined tall towers of looming, black smoke. But there is still many hazardous chemicals in it. This is, of course, what people have a problem with. To summarize, the fact that coal is notoriously dangerous for the environment would prevent anyone from supporting the act of putting a coal plant in the middle of Nashville, not that there would be much room for something of its size anyway.


Final Verdict:

Coal, despite its tested and true method of energy production, is not compatible with the views held by Nashville’s people, nor is it space efficient enough to be placed near a city.

Hydroelectric power is a clean, inexpensive source of energy that is very common already in Nashville, TN.  Drawing energy from man-made dams, it is a good choice for the city because it is situated by a river.  It would require about 3 plants that generate 7,990 mwh to power the city. While there is minimal pollution, costs, and the power is reliable, there are some adverse effects for the species of animals that live in the rivers where dams are built, which may contribute to a need to reduce the amount of hydroelectric plants built.  Nashville's size is also important to consider.  The largely metropolitan area would probably be well-suited to this energy source because it does not require much land-space, being based on a dam. Hydroelectric plants are ideal for cities that are located near bodies of water because they require space that is typically located on a river. With a cost of about 2.5 million dollars on average to build a hydroelectric plant, Nashville is likely to see the benefits of the low cost when compared to all the people who will need power.  Regardless, this type of energy is ideal if an area has the space for it on a body of water and is prepared to pay for the initial cost of building the plants; they are reinforced to withstand natural disasters, and flooding can be prevented by the controlled flood-gates.  However, it is worth considering that a powerful earthquake is capable of breaking a dam, causing floods and tremendous damage.


 Hydroelectric energy is highly cost-effective and very suitable to the city of Nashville, due to its location on a river.

Final Verdict:

Oil is used in many ways.  It can be used to heat water into steam which produces electricity, or to produce gas which causes turbines to spin and generate electricity.  However, on its own, oil does not function well as a producer of electricity.  There is usually only one generator on a petroleum plant, which produces a measly 12 mwh.  Since Nashville requires 21,387 mwh, it would require over 1,000 of these generators to supply the whole city with electricity.  This is why it is very uncommon to build a plant that uses oil to make electricity without a third party's involvement(a turbine or water plant).  Petroleum is more like a fuel that helps other types of energy along, such as when it is burned to heat a hydro generator's water into steam.  The water is key here, because the gas from the burned oil would be very difficult to use in order to produce energy.  Additionally, oil is a pollutant to the environment and would likely cause damage to nature and living things around it, were a city to build so many of this type of plant.  The relationship between oil and electricity is that oil is used as a secondary fuel that helps the main source in a plant produce energy, rather than producing it by itself.


Petroleum is not generally used as a direct generator of electricity due to its high cost, pollution production, and low energy output.  I would not recommend using this to provide electricity to a city alone.

Final Verdict:

Wind energy can be created by using wind flow to move large wind turbines. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical power. The energy produced from wind turbines can be used to power grain grinders or pump water. It can also be used to power generators that provide electricity for homes, businesses, schools and other commercial buildings. When questioning whether or not wind energy should be the resource used to power Nashville, there are certain characteristics that come into play. Considering wind turbines need wind to produce energy, they need to be located in an area that has plenty of wind. The average hourly wind speed in Nashville experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year. The windiest part of the year is from October 20 to May 16, with average wind speeds of more than 6.9 mph. During the calmest wind time of the year, the lowest wind speed is 4.9 mph. Due to the unpredictability of the time wind blows or the speed of wind, it makes wind turbines unreliable. In contradiction, in an article about wind turbine installation, it gives evidence that wind energy is a good resource for Nashville to use, “Tennessee is one of the best states for wind power for two reasons: it’s abundant wind energy and it’s fantastic wind incentives and rebates.” But wind production in Nashville is not the only component to consider when debating the more logical resource. The average wind turbine plant uses an average amount between 30 and 141 acres per megawatt of land. Therefore, because each wind turbine produces 2 megawatts of power and the cost of land in Nashville is $70,000 per acre, it would cost between $4,200,000 and $19,740,000 to buy the land needed for a wind farm. Though this is already an exponential amount of money to spend, that does not include how much it costs to build the plant, take care of it, or even how much energy it actually produces. The costs for a utility scale turbine range from about $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW of nameplate capacity installed. Most commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-4 million installed. There are multiple wind turbines on a wind farm, therefore the cost of buying multiple wind turbines would be insane. Though the infrastructure to run and maintain a wind farm is already in place, the amount of energy produced compared to the cost to have wind farm as Nashville’s main energy resource is not logical. In addition to the cost of each turbine, land needed and wind farms in general the amount of wind farms needed to produce enough power to satisfy the peak electrical demand of Nashville would be 10,693 plants. This would cost between $2,353,460,000,000,000 and $4,704,920,000,000,000. Other factors to consider would be environmental and noise pollution. The noise emitted by wind turbines is caused by the movement of wind turbine blades through the air and mechanical sound generated by the turbine itself. Turbines produce 43 db at an average distance of 300 meters from the closest home. Although wind turbines themselves are not pollutants, the production of the materials used to build them, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning and dismantlement creates an estimated amount of polluting emissions are between 0.02 and 0.04 lbs of carbon dioxide per kWh. There is also evidence that the deaths of birds and bats are due to collisions with turbines and changes in air pressure caused by the spinning turbines. 


Final Verdict:

Unless Nashville has trillions of dollars to spend on energy, powering Nashville using 100% wind energy would bankrupt the city and make taxes rise at least tenfold, making it not recommended.

Natural gas is found deep beneath earth’s surface. Natural gas consists mainly of methane, and small amounts of hydrogen gas liquids and non-hydrogen gases. Natural gas can be used as a fuel, or to make materials and chemicals. While Tennessee has no significant proved natural gas reserves, there are dozen’s of interstate pipelines that supply the state as they pass through on their way to the East and Midwest, One of these pipelines is located near Nashville. If Nashville decided to use natural gas as their main energy source it would cost anywhere from $676,000 to $2,095,000 per mWh to build each plant. Therefore it would take between 34 to 252 natural gas plants to satisfy the peak electrical demand of Nashville +10, costing between $1,466,920,000,000,000 to $4,416,260,000,000,000. Although natural gas is an abundant source of energy, the cost and disadvantages of environmental pollution outweigh the pros of having this as Nashville’s main source of energy. An environmental concern is that natural gas is a powerful greenhouse gas.

Natural Gas

Final Verdict:

Powering Nashville via natural gas would be a big waste of trillions of dollars and is not recommended.

Geothermal energy relies on one thing to generate power, and that is heat from the ground. Water is pumped down a pipe into a reservoir of steam of hot water, the water is then heated into to steam, and pumped back to the surface which then spins a turbine connected to a generator to generate power. Geothermal energy production relies on 3 things. Those things are a reservoir of either hot water, hot steam, or hot rock (close to magma). Due to these requirements, Nashville isn’t exactly the ideal candidate for geothermal power production. This is due to Tennessee in general lacking a lot of hot water or steam, as shown in the map included below (see Map 1 in the Resources section). As you can plainly see using the key, Middle Tennessee is just about the least desireable sport you could pick in the United States to build one. Based on the 2016 Annual Geothermal Energy Production Report, we can determine that an average geothermal plant produces around 18 mw of power due to 318 mw being added when 18 new plants came online in 2015. Nashville’s peak energy demand has been estimated to be 21, 387 mWh, the calculation has been outlined in the introduction. Based off of these numbers,we can deduce that it would take around 1,189 geothermal plants to power Nashville during times of peak demand (found by dividing 21,387 by 18).Obviously, this simply isn’t feasible due to the associated costs of the plants themselves and the lack of a good reservoir to tap into to actually run the plants. Geothermal plants require very little space to be built upon so available space in Nashville isn’t an issue. If we assume that a geothermal plant will take up 500 acres, then going off of an average cost per acre in Nashville of $70,000 per acre, the land alone will cost around $35,000,000 dollars to purchase. Geothermal plants produce no pollution, except steam, making them conform nicely to Nashville’s pollution regulations. Nashville’s population density sits at about 1,287 people per square mile. 500 acres is around .78 square miles, making 939 people live around the plant (1,204*.78). Nashville’s stance on energy leans to the side of clean, renewable energy with most of their electricity being generated by hydroelectric and nuclear power plants. Reliability of these plants is also nothing short of amazing, having an average uptime of 90% meaning that 90% of the time, it’ll be working with little to no interruptions in energy production. Safety is also marvelous, with there being little to no chance of explosions or contamination of the surrounding area.The only infrastructure geothermal plants need to operate on a day to day basis is a power grid, which Nashville already has, and that’s about it. Generating electricity from steam and hot water makes geothermal plants extremely safe in the event of an earthquake, flood, or tornado. Sure the plant will go offline, as it’s designed to do, but it won’t put the public at risk in anyway if it is affected by one of those disasters. This is where geothermal would make a lot of people happy. The average cost of electricity from a geothermal plant is around $0.06-$0.08 cents per kWh, making it extremely ideal for anyone drawing a lot of power or counting every penny that they spend. Going along with the low cost of electricity from a geothermal plant, they are also extremely cheap to build. According to the Geothermal Energy Association, geothermal plants can be built for as low as $3,400 dollars per kilowatt of the plant's capacity making an 18 mw plant cost as low as $61,200,000. Adding in the cost of land, we can say that all in all, without staffing, licensing, or budget overruns, a geothermal plant could be built from nothing for $96,200,000. To power Nashville entirely with geothermal energy would cost a whopping $114,381,800,000 which is obviously not feasible for most cities, including Nashville.Conclusion time. In conclusion, geothermal energy would be a horrible choice to power Nashville with for a few reasons. The first reason being that Middle Tennessee just isn’t anywhere near ideal for geothermal energy, see map 1 in the resources section. You can’t generate power if the thing in which your method of power generation relies upon, hot water, steam, and rock in this instance, just don’t exist. The second reason being the astronomical amount of money that it would require to outfit Nashville with enough plants to power it. 114 billion dollars is not an insignificant amount of money, with Nashville’s entire fiscal year 2018 budget being around 284 million dollars making their entire budget being only 1/402 of the cost to power Nashville purely with geothermal energy.


Final Verdict:

Powering Nashville with geothermal energy would be a huge cost with little return and is not recommended.

Nuclear energy is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly energy source.  Taking up 1.3 square miles per plant on average, it is conservative with space when compared to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.  For the city of Nashville, only two plants would be necessary to provide sufficient power, assuming they operate at an average of 12,192 mwh.  Nuclear energy is very cheap to run, only costing about .49 cents per kwh, and is reinforced against natural disasters to avoid the possibility of a meltdown.  While uranium, which is used to fuel the reactors, is not a renewable source, nuclear plants produce by-products which can be recycled for more fuel.  This is why nuclear energy is often considered a hybrid of renewable and nonrenewable; it simply depends on one chooses to operate the plant.  The waste which comes from a nuclear reactor is kept to a minimum when recycled, but the products which must be transported are highly toxic and require special vehicles and treatment to maintain.  This can run the cost of operation up slightly. At an average of less than .50 cents per kwh, citizens of Nashville would likely pay less for their electrical needs.  Despite this, Nashville is a metropolitan area with little space, so even the few miles that are needed for the plant might require demolition and relocating people who live nearby.  It can be expected that 1,690 people on average would be in the plant's direct vicinity once built, but due to the low pollution, it should not post an issue.

Nuclear Energy

Powering Nashville with nuclear energy would be cheaper than most other sources, however there are some risks and a need for space involved.  Since the city is located on a river, it would be ideal to pair nuclear energy with hydroelectric energy, it should be considered to power Nashville.

Final Verdict:

Final Conclusion and Recommendation 

Ah, the time has finally come to bring all of our research and findings into one place and make our recommendations on how best to power Nashville. To recap, the power generation types considered and studied were Coal, Geothermal, Hydroelectric, Natural Gas, Nuclear Fission, Petroleum, Solar, and Wind. We have stated our final conclusions underneath each individual power type, and going off of that will give us our final recommendation. Based on the many, many factors listed in the introduction, we feel as if our choices and recommendations are well informed, thought out, and take Nashville’s best interest into account. Given all of this, our final verdict for powering Nashville is as follows: We recommend that Nashville be powered by nuclear and hydroelectricity due to them being cheap to build and run with a low cost of electricity, environmentally friendly, and Nashville being situated on a river and near many bodies of water.

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