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How does it work?



Solar power cells convert

sunlight into electricity, using
the energy of speeding
photons to create an electrical
current within a solar panel.
The silicon atoms in the solar
panel/solar cell have their
electrons excited which
creates the electrical current.
Photons are created in the
center of the sun by the fusion
of atoms.

-light from the sun is

very abundant and
otherwise wasted
inexpensive to run
-do not need to
connect to a system
-low carbon
-doesnt pollute,
except for
construction of the
-doesnt take up too
much space, can be
attached to houses or
roads (solar
-very little

Initial Price: Solar

panels are expensive
to make.

Simply started, a wind turbine


Noise: Wind power is



Pollution: The
materials its made of,
Silicon, mercury, lead
and cadmium, are toxic
and can cause
pollution. Creation of
the cells used to make
the panels may also
decrease their
Efficiency: Panels
only capture on
average 40% of the
suns energy. Some
high efficiency can
capture up to 80%, but
they are very
Reliability: They only
work during the day.
Area: Require a large
amount of area to
generate sufficient
energy for a large
business or a city.


works the opposite of a fan.

Instead of using electricity to
make wind power, like a fan,
wind turbines use wind to
make electricity. The wind
turns the blade, which spin a
shaft, which connects to a
generator and makes

-derived from the

sun, which isnt about
to get up and leave
-clean & nonpolluting,
aside from the
creation of the
-takes up a very small
space on the ground
-can be taken from
the middle of the
ocean, where there is
so much wind. too
much wind.

Wildlife: Wind turbines
can affect wildlife,
especially birds who
are often killed, and
underground habitats
are also often affected.
Reliability: Wind is
unpredictable. Large
amounts of wind are
needed to make it
worth it.
Aesthetics: Wind
turbines often disturb
the look of a


Hydro Power(water power) is

used primarily to generate
Power derived from the
energy of falling and running
water, which may be
harnessed for useful purposes
Ex: Dams
The water in the dam goes
through the penstock into the
turbine making the generator
turn and create energy

-Clean fuel source

-Wont pollute the
power/energy source
-Reliable and stable
source of energy
-Low maintenance
-No waste disposal

-extremely expensive
to build -must be built
to a very high standard
-The flooding of large
areas of land means
that the natural
environment is
-can be impacted by
drought. When water is
not available, the
hydroplants cant
produce electricity
-hydropower can
impact water quality
and flow
-disrupts salmon


Biomass and biofuels come

directly from living organisms.

-It is a 100% natural

way to produce

-It produces harmful


In other words, it is a
completely natural source of
energy. Biomass and biofuel
dont necessarily need to be
from animals. It can also be a
plant. Any living organism
works. When biofuel is ignited,
it is transferred into energy,
that can be used to boil water.
The steam can then power a
turbine that powers a
generator that creates

-Not very expensive
short cycle of Carbon

- reduces farmland
available for food.

Heat from the core of the

Earth heats the mantle. Hot
water is pumped from deep
underground through a well
under high pressure. When
the water reaches the surface,
the pressure is dropped,
which causes the water to turn
into steam. This spins a
turbine, which is connected to
a generator that produces
electricity.The steam cools off
in a cooling tower and
condenses back into water.
The cooled water is pumped
back into the earth to begin
the process

Clean and
sustainable. There is
no fuel used, this can
built underground so
it takes very little
space. It has a
virtually limitless
supply. No mining or
required. Smallest
land footprint of any
major power source.
Works great near
plate boundaries and
hot spots.

In extreme cases, the

geothermal power plant
can cause
earthquakes. It is also
expensive. The prime
locations are very
specific and far away
from population
centers. It also requires
the use of water.

Oil and
Crude oil is found in many
Petroleum places. These places are
mostly foreign countries, but
also include Texas, the
Dakotas, California, or Alaska.
Then it is shipped to
refineries, then refined.
Refineries do three things:
separation, conversion, and
treatment. Separation occurs
in the distillation units, where
the heavier liquids sink to the

Technologies used
for extracting oil are
already well
Petroleum has broad
Its cheap.
Burning one kilogram
of oil can generate
10,000 kcal.
Easy to transport
because of its liquid

Burning of fossil fuels

releases carbon
dioxide, nitrogen
monoxide, nitrogen
dioxide, sulphur
dioxide, carbon
monoxide, and more,
that have terrible
consequences on
habitats and human
-Non-renewable. Major



bottom and the lighter gases

float to the top. In the
conversion phase, heat and
pressure crack heavy
hydrogen molecules into
lighter ones. Treatment is the
final stage. In it, final touches
are made and octane levels
are adjusted. Once petroleum
fuel has been refined, it is
burned to create steam that
goes to a turbine, which sends
rotational energy into a
generator, which creates

- Expensive.
- Impacts on aquatic
life by oil spills into the
-Need huge amounts of
space. Lots of mining is
needed, which creates
a health hazard to the

Uses: Often used for heating,

cooking, and energy
generating. Also used as fuel
for vehicles.
Formed: It is a product of
decomposed organic matter
(Biomass). The material gets
covered and sealed off in an
oxygen-free environment. As
the heat a pressure increases
on the organic material, it
goes for health through a
thermal breakdown (Burning).
This process converts the
organic material to
hydrocarbons. Natural gas
is composed mostly of of
methane, the simplest and
lightest hydrocarbon.
Obtaining: Deposits of
natural gas can be found
using seismic testing
methods. Once a site is found,
vertical wells are drilled to
reach the gas under the layers
of overhead. Natural
buoyancy brings the gas to
the surface.

-Destroys the
-Can not rely on its
limited source
- fracking - hydraulic

It is Readily
available domestic
source of energy.
(was 30% of U.S.
energy mix in 2012)
Relatively cheap

Turning Natural Gas into

We use natural gas to power
energy producing turbines.
The gas is lit on fire in a boiler
to heat water. The steam
pushes the turbine, which is
attached to a generator, so as
the turbine spins it creates
mechanical energy that the
generator converts into

Coal is formed from

decomposing organic material
formed under extreme heat
and pressure. Coal is
generally a solid fuel that is
used to generate electricity by
combustion. When using coal
to generate electricity it is
usually pulverized and placed
in a furnace with a boiler. The
coal then boils water and
generates steam. The steam
then turns a turbine, the
turbine powers a generator
which creates electricity.
Modern day coal-fire powered
power stations have about a
43% thermal efficiency. This
diagram of a coal power plant
was found at:

-cheap and plentiful

-located close to
surface and cover
large areas
-inexpensive mining
-easily converted to

-speeds up global
-polluting chemicals
that are dangerous for
-damaging to
surrounding natural
-transportation can be

picture found:


-Energy released from atoms

from a process in which the
nucleus of an atom splits into
smaller parts(Lighter nuclei)
-works through nuclear
-process produces free
neutrons and photons, which
releases a large amount of
-A neutron is absorbed by a
uranium nucleus, turning it
briefly into an excited uranium
nucleus, with the excitation
energy provided by the kinetic
energy of the neutron plus the
forces that bind the neutron.
The uranium, in turn, splits
into fast-moving lighter
The heat from this process
boils water creating steam
which powers a turbine
attached to a generator.

-relatively low cost to

produce energy
-low pollution
-fuel not limited to
just Uranium;
Thorium can also be
-ten million times
greater than the
energy released
when burning fossil
-Reliable, powerful,
and efficient
-Only small amounts
of Uranium are
needed to produce a
large amount of
-Produces about 502
MW, or
joules in a 24 hour

-Heat waves,
freshwater shortages
and droughts can affect
cooling of reactors,
forcing them to be shut
-Cant get rid of waste
-Nuclear plant
accidents can be
-Radioactive waste is

Why build a house without electricity?

How much energy do humans use? In what forms?
528.797 quadrillion BTU, British Thermal Unit (for comparison, it takes 1000 BTU to heat a
10x10x10 ft room 5 degrees Fahrenheit) AKA 557,880,830,000,000,000,000 Joules/ year

Humans produce more energy than we use

- We produce 530.683 quadrillion BTU per year
- We consume 528.797 quadrillion BTU per year

Types of energy the US uses

-Coal 42%
-Natural Gas 25%
-Nuclear 19%

-Hydro 8%
-Oil Petroleum 1%
-Renewable 5%

BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell made $93 billion combined profit 2013
Average household in US pays $110.55 and consumes 955 kilowatt hours monthly (US Energy
Information Administration), being charged 11.8 cents per kilowatt hours. With that average, US
households pay $1326.60 for electricity per year.


Coal $46.70 per ton

Oil Petroleum $73.29 per barrel
Nuclear power plant was 1.51 cents/kWh in 2013
Hydro power costs about 0.7 cents/kWh

Climate change - how does it happen? (greenhouse effect, carbon

cycle, use of suns energy):
(For some reason, the pictures here arent working. To see them, as well as the whole How
does climate change happen section spam and lag-free, view the separate doc at Thanks.)

Greenhouse effectThe process of when thermal radiation is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases is known
as the greenhouse effect. Life as we know it is only possible because of Earths natural
greenhouse effect.
-20% of light from the sun is distributed and reflected by clouds
-51% of the suns light is absorbed by earth
-4% is reflected by the Earths surface
-6% is scattered from atmosphere
-19% is absorbed by atmosphere and clouds
When sunlight hits the Earths surface, some of it get reflected and some of it turns into heat.
Carbon and other atmospheric gases trap the heat, keeping the Earth warm. The greenhouse
effect caused by increased carbon and other contaminants in the atmosphere has been keeping
more and more heat in our atmosphere, changing the planets temperature drastically.
According to, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at an all time high,
and 97% of scientists agree that this dramatic change is caused by human actions.
Gases that create the greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapor
(H2O), Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Carbon CycleIts a biogeochemical cycle where carbon is exchanged throughout the biosphere, pedosphere
(the outermost layer of the Earth), geosphere,
All living this are made of carbon. Carbon attaches with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Plants
use both sunlight and carbon dioxide to feed themselves and grow. When plants eventually die,
and get buried they turn into fossil fuels (such as coal or oil millions of years). Humans then

burn the coal, and the carbon returns into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Since humans
have burned so much fuel over the years, there is 30% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
compared to 150 years ago.
-Climate Change - Consequences - what could happen as a result of the changing climate?
-Polar ice caps melt
-Many northern species of animals become at risk of extinction
-Sea levels rise
-Heavy rain and extreme weather events become more common
-flooding and erosion begin to have more effect on land
-decreasing water quality
-decreasing abundance of water in some places, and more abundance in others
-increase in insect outbreaks
-increase in forest fires
increase in heat related sickness and disease
size of major river deltas increases at a very vast rate

Climate Change - Consequences - what could happen as a result of

the changing climate?

Decreasing availability of water resources in some regions

Increase of temp of around 1 degree C in the last 150 years
More intense heat waves
frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and
an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms


plants and animal species struggling to cope

terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species have moved to new

some species will be at increased risk of extinction if global


average temperatures continue to rise

Consequences for Human Health
there has been an increase in the number of heat-related deaths
there has been a decrease in cold-related deaths in other regions
High Cost
destruction, forced relocations, droughts, and extinctions add up
costs in the global economy

by 2030, climate change costs are projected to cost the global

economy $700 billion annually

Forced Relocation
in 2008, 36 million people were displaced by natural disasters
at least 20 million of those people were driven away
from their homes by disasters related to climate change, like drought and
rising sea level
Southern Hemisphere
most affected
not only states, but cultures and identities will be

200 million people by 2050 could be forced to leave

due to environmental changes

Increasing water levels

floods and decreasing water availability
result of ice caps melting
ocean water expands with heat

Climate Change- Consequences on Regions of US

North East- Heat waves, intense rain, rise of sea level

North West- Rise of sea level, erosion, increase in ocean acidity levels, wildfires, insect
outbreaks competing water demands

South East- Rise in sea level, continuous rise in threats to economy and environment, health
problems due to extreme heat, large decrease in water resources affecting economy and

South West- Heat, drought, and insect swarms, increased wildfires, declining water, less

agricultural potential, health changes from heat, and flooding and erosion on the
coastlines (think sea arches, but much, much more significant)

Californias annual temperature is projected

to increase up to 8 degrees within the next