Business location factors: energy

Energy sources are necessary to provide the power to operate machines, and depending on the quantity of energy need, the location of a business can change: If the need of energy is very high it’s necessary to locate the industry near that source in order to be cheaper…

Nowadays, the energy it’s not a decisive factor for a factory’s location, but anyway if the consume of energy, usually electricity, is very big, the companies compare electricity rates in different countries before deciding where to locate it.

There are two types of energy sources:

  1. Non-renewable energy sources, exist on Earth in limited quantities and diminish as they are consumed (petroleum, gas, coal, uranium, etc.). High consumption of these fuels also produces pollution obtained from limited natural resources that can be used up.
  2. Renewable or alternative energy sources, obtained from unlimited natural resources (waterpower, solar energy, tidal and wave energy, wind, biomass…).

The most widely used energy sources today are coal, petroleum, gas water and nuclear energy.

Coal was once a chief source of energy, together with charcoal and wood. Today it is less important, its main use being in the production of electrical power. Power stations that use coal to produce electricity are called thermal plants. Coal has several uses other than as an energy source, in the production of plastic-based materials, disinfectants etc. in the chemical industry.

Main producing countries: China, USA and India.

Petroleum is a mixture of a number of substances, and can be distilled to produce petrol (gasoline), kerosene, diesel oil and paraffin. Some of these are used as fuel for motor vehicles. Petroleum has replaced coal in many uses, such as heating. As in the case of coal, petroleum has other uses too, in chemicals, plastic, etc.

Main producing countries: Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Gas is used increasingly as an energy source. It produces less pollution than coal or petroleum.

Main producing countries: Russia, USA and Canada.

Water power or hydroelectric power is mostly used to generate electricity. Water collected in reservoirs moves turbines to produce electric power. This energy source is chiefly available in mountainous areas.

Main producing countries: Canada, Brazil, USA, China and Russia.

Nuclear energy is produced by dividing atomic nuclei, in a process called nuclear fission. The heat produced by the fission (division) of the nucleus turns water into steam, which moves turbines that produce electrical energy. There are risks in nuclear energy production, the most dangerous being radioactive contamination of the environment.

Main producing countries: USA, France and Japan.

Each of these energy sources, which are the most widespread ones today, has their problems. Some of them – coal, petroleum and gas – are running out due to excessive use, and they all create pollution. There are not many renewable sources of energy and raw materials. However, we need to make increasing use of new or alternative energy sources in order not to exhaust fossil energy sources and to limit pollution. Here are some examples of alternative energies:

Solar energy: energy from sunlight is converted by means of cells or plaques into electric power. The main problem is that the plaques are expensive. They might become cheaper if their use became more widespread.

Main producing countries: USA, Germany, Australia and Canada.

Tidal and wave energy: energy from tides can be obtained in plants that are built to take advantage of the movement of daily tides, and this is done in some places. Waves can provide a lot of energy too, but they are difficult to control and may even break the energy-producing equipment.

Main producing countries: France, UK and Canada.

Geothermal energy: rocks deep under the earth’s surface are hot from the planet’s natural radioactivity. In some places hot rocks can be found by drilling into the earth, and the energy used to heat water.

Main producing countries: USA, Philippines and Mexico.

Wind (Eolic): modern wind turbines (windmills) make use of the wind’s energy to produce electricity. This method of energy production is now used in some parts of the world (in Navarre for instance).

Main producing countries: Germany, Spain, USA and Denmark.

Biomass energy is obtained from biological sources such as vegetable residues from harvests, animal manure, residues from filtering plants, and refuse. All these can be fermented to produce methane gas which, collected in containers, can be used like other kinds of gas for heating or electricity production.

Main producing countries: USA, France and Sweden. 

Leave a Reply