Sources of Energy
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Energy is essential for human life to exist on our planet. It is the usage of energy that gives us electricity, furniture, utensils, cooking gas, roads, etc. The resources that we use to extract energy from are referred to as the sources of energy. Sunlight, rivers, and wind are sources of energy. However, we tend to use fossil fuels like coal and petroleum more frequently than sunlight or wind as energy sources. This has to do with a few characteristics that a good energy source should come with. Coal and petroleum rates high on these characteristics when compared to sunlight and wind energy.
Characteristics of a Good Source of Energy
A good energy source should have the following characteristics:
A good energy source should have a high calorific value, which means the output energy should be more than the input energy.
It can be stored and transported with ease.
It should be safe to use.
Types of Sources of Energy
There are two types of energy sources:
Renewable Sources of Energy: Renewable sources of energy are that source of energy that comes from natural processes and hence, gets replenished all the time. Examples of renewable sources of energy are solar (sun) energy, tidal energy, wind energy, etc. They are also called non-conventional sources of energy.
Non-renewable energy - Non-renewable energy sources are generally referred to as fossil fuels, namely, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. These fossil fuels will be exhausted within a few centuries and cannot be regenerated. However, human beings are heavily dependent on fossil fuels even now, and it accounts for about 80% of our energy requirements. Hence, these energy sources are also referred to as conventional sources of energy.
Non-Renewable Sources of Energy
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Some of the common non-renewable sources of energy are:
Coal - Coal is formed after various organic matter, generally dead plant matter, is subjected to high pressure and heat for millions of years. It is used to generate electricity and power up a variety of machines.
Petroleum - Petroleum is also formed after organic matter, generally animal-based organic matter, is subjected to high heat and pressure for millions of years. It helps to run vehicles, machinery, and generate electricity.
Natural Gas - When a variety of plant and animal-based organic matter is subjected to frequent pressure and heat over many thousands of years, they form natural gas.
Biomass - Biomass energy is the energy extracted from firewood, farm wastes, cow dung, stalks of plants, wood burnt in limited air, etc. It requires proper planning like planned planting of trees.
How Long will an Energy Source Last Us?
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It is important to ask whether energy sources will last throughout our survival on Earth. Since we are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, most of us should ask whether this energy source will last for long. As per most scientists, fossil fuels would not last for a long time. After a few centuries, we would exhaust all the natural resources like fossil fuels on Earth. If we consider the rate at which we are using fossil fuels, then it seems that we might exhaust these resources within 100 years. So, it is important for us to move to non-conventional sources of energy like sunlight, the flowing rivers, and winds that have continued to enrich the earth and will continue to do so as these are renewable energy and get replenished instantly. Hence, we should start making a move towards renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy, and tidal energy and lower our dependence on fossil fuels if we wish for these energy sources to last us for a longer period of time.
Why Do We Still Use Fossil Fuels?
There are a couple of reasons why we are still using fossil fuels:
Great Source of Energy: Fossil fuels are an amazing source of energy. Fossil fuels are often described as ‘energy-dense’ which means it contains a lot of energy in just a small amount. It is economical, as well. On the other hand, setting up solar panels or windmills across fields is extremely expensive, and the outcome is not as satisfactory when compared with the investment.
Readymade Products: One of the greatest advantages of fossil fuels is that they are readymade. Once the fossil fuel is collected, it is ready to be used as fuel. So, there is no excess cost or effort involved to convert that fossil fuel into proper energy. However, non-conventional sources of energy require a lot of work put into it so that the energy could be converted into accessible, usable energy.
Well-established: Since humans have always depended on the pure high energy source of fossil fuels, it is difficult to reach that level of energy requirement using alternative sources as of now. Plus, we have established proper channels to draw fossil fuels and use its energy and set up the power-generating structures according to that. Hence, it is difficult to make a shift from fossil fuels to non-conventional sources of energy.
1. Is Nuclear Energy Renewable or Non-renewable Energy?
There is a debate on whether nuclear energy is renewable or non-renewable. Nuclear energy is considered non-renewable, while the material used for the production of nuclear energy is rare. Nuclear energy is produced through nuclear fission and uses a rare uranium type - U-235. It is also complicated and costly to build nuclear reactors, and it is not a clean energy source as it produces harmful nuclear waste.
2. Is it Possible to Stop Using Fossil Fuels?
While we are aware that fossil fuels are harmful, it may not be possible to stop using fossil fuels instantly. There are a few ways to lower the usage of fossil fuels like:
Developing a system of a carbon tax to reduce carbon footprint.
Lowering the unnecessary use of fossil fuels.
Slowly encouraging the use of alternative fuels
Funding research and development and trying to develop economic extraction of energy from renewable sources.