What is energy?
Energy is the ability to do work.
Energy exists in several forms:
- Heat (thermal)
- Light (radiant)
- Motion (kinetic)
- Nuclear energy
Energy sources are divided into two groups — renewable (an energy source that can be easily replenished) and non-renewable (an energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate). Both renewable and non-renewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy sources including electricity and hydrogen. Below we take a closer look at renewable and non-renewable energy.
Renewable energy sources include: Solar energy from the sun, which can be turned into electricity and heat; wind; energy from heat inside the earth (geothermal); firewood from trees; Ethanol from corn; Biodiesel from vegetable oil; hydropower from hydroturbines at a dam.
We get most of our energy from non-renewable energy sources, which include the fossil fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal. They’re called fossil fuels because they were formed over millions of years by the action of heat from the earth’s core and pressure from rock and soil on the remains (or “fossils”) of dead plants and microscopic one-celled creatures. The latest measurements have confirmed that the world’s oil and natural gas supplies are rapidly running out and somewhere between 2010 and 2020, the supply will fall below the level required to meet international demand.
The element Uranium is another non-renewable energy source, whose atoms we split to create heat and ultimately, electricity. We use renewable and non-renewable energy sources to generate the electricity we need for our homes, businesses, schools and factories. Most of the fuel used in our cars, motorcycles and other vehicles is made from petroleum oil, which is a non-renewable resource. Natural gas, which is used to heat homes, dry clothes and cook food, is non-renewable. The propane that fuels our outdoor barbeques is made from oil and natural gas, both of which are non-renewable.
Electricity is a non-renewable source, created by the burning of natural gas, coal or oil at power stations. It is burned to heat up huge amounts of water to make steam. The steam then turns a series of turbines (resembling propellers or electric-fan blades), which are connected to a generator. The motion of the spinning turbines is then transformed into electricity. If it’s a nuclear power plant, then the heat released by two chunks of nuclear fuel when you place them together is used to boil the water instead. From there, you get steam, spinning turbines and electricity in almost the same way. The problem is that coal, oil and gas supplies are gradually running out, and burning so much of them is adding to the greenhouse effect, which causes global warming. While nuclear fuels can probably provide all the electricity we need, the nuclear waste they leave behind is damaging to the environment. To drastically reduce your carbon footprint and save money, you can make your own electricity with a solar electricity installation.
For more ways to reduce your carbon footprint, visit our Eco Page here. If you’re interested in making your home more energy efficient (and saving money at the same time!) visit Ace’s Tips for all you need to know about boiler efficiency, loft and cavity wall insulation, double glazing, solar electricity installations and energy saving tips.