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Answer.

The Major Sources of Power and Energy Energy sources can be sub-divided into two broad categories. These are renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Renewable sources are those that do not get finished or used up since they are naturally replenished. These include sunlight, water, geothermal steam, wind and biomass. Non-renewable sources are those that can get finished or used up through use, that is, they cannot be replaced once used up. They include coal, petroleum, natural gas, groundwater aquifers, and nuclear energy sources such as uranium and plutonium. Power and energy production endeavour is faced by a number of problems which include the following:

1. Changing climatic conditions: Drought leads to rainfall scarcity and hence a drop in the volume of water in rivers. This problem affects the production of hydroelectric power and is one of the factors leading to low energy production in most parts of the world, especially in the least developed countries.
2. Lack of capital: Energy and power production needs heavy investments in infrastructure, manpower and technology. All these investments require a great deal of capital.

3. Lack of diverse energy sources in respective countries: Most counties have very few energy resources from which to extract power and energy. Worse still, some do not have a single energy resource, so they have to import the resources or power. For instance, uranium and geothermal steam are not found in many countries. Such countries extract power from only a few available resources such as water, wind or solar energy.

4. Poor technology and lack of skilled personnel: Many developing countries lack the technology required to establish energy extraction infrastructures and the skilled personnel needed to perform that function. Most of the power and energy exploitation technology used in developing countries is very old and less efficient and productive. There are also very few people with the necessary skills for setting up and operating equipment as well as conducting research on power and energy production methods, facilities and technologies.

5. High prices: High prices for energy resources hinder energy and power output in most countries that have to import these resources from other countries. Oil is used for energy production. We have recently seen escalating oil prices worldwide. This leads to low purchase and hence low energy and power production. Also the equipment needed for production of energy and power is very expensive and can thus not be afforded by many poor countries. As a result, they resort to inefficient and less productive obsolete technology which cannot produce sufficient power and energy to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy and power.

6. Environment pollution: Energy and power exploitation is sometimes accompanied with the emission of harmful gases that pollute the environment. Coal burning, for example, releases tremendous quantities of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere. As such, many countries are either phasing out such energy generation technologies or spending a lot of capital to clean the coal so as to prevent environmental pollution. The power and energy production sector is, therefore, in great pressure to adopt technologies that minimize or cause no environmental pollution.

7. Siltation: Accumulation of silt in dams used for generation of hydroelectric power reduces the volume of water in dams, hence resulting to low power generation. On the other hand, removal of the silt from dams adds to the cost of energy and power production and these costs are pushed on to consumers of energy and power.

8. Scramble for resources: River water is also used for irrigation of crops, domestic and industrial uses, fishing or preservation of flora or fauna. For example, river Nile is used for irrigation in Ethiopia (Gezira Irrigation Scheme) and, at the same time, required for production of hydroelectric power at Aswan High Dam, in Egypt. If too much water is used for irrigation, little will be available for hydropower generation. This competition on the same resource can lead to international conflicts and even wars. Another example is coal which is used for domestic heating as well as for generation of electricity. This can curtail the generation of power and energy from coal if too much of it is used for domestic heating. In Tanzania, peculiar species of toads are found at Kihanzi power generation station in Kihanzi River. Use of water for generation of hydroelectricity affects the lives of these organisms. This has caused a big concern from environmentalists and wildlife conservation groups.

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