You are on page 1of 11

Energy Resources

What do I need to know?

"Energy Resources" is NOT the same thing as "Types of energy".

"Types of energy" means "kinetic energy", "chemical energy" and so forth.

"Energy Resources" is about ways of getting energy so we can generate electrical


power.

Renewable Energy

Not Renewable energy

Solar Power: Energy from the sun


We've used the Sun for drying clothes and food for thousands of years, but only
recently have we been able to use it for generating power
Advantages
1- Solar energy is free - it needs no fuel and produces no waste or pollution.
2- In sunny countries, solar power can be used where there is no easy way to get
electricity to a remote place.
3- Handy for low-power uses such as solar powered garden lights and battery
chargers, or for helping your home energy bills.

Disadvantages
1- Doesn't work at night.
2- Very expensive to build solar power stations, although the cost is coming down as
technology improves. In the meantime, solar cells cost a great deal compared to the
amount of electricity they'll produce in their lifetime.
3- Can be unreliable unless you're in a very sunny climate. In the United Kingdom, solar
power isn't much use for high-power applications, as you need a large area of solar
panels to get a decent amount of power. However, technology has now reached the
point where it can make a big difference to your home fuel bills..

Wind power
We've used the wind as an energy source for a long time.
The Babylonians and Chinese were using wind power to pump water for irrigating
crops 4,000 years ago, and sailing boats were around long before that.
Wind power was used in the Middle Ages, in Europe, to grind corn, which is where
the term "windmill" comes from.
Advantages
1- Wind is free, wind farms need no fuel.
2- Produces no waste or greenhouse gases.
3- The land beneath can usually still be used for farming.
4- Wind farms can be tourist attractions.
5- A good method of supplying energy to remote areas.

Disadvantages
1- The wind is not always predictable - some days have no wind.
2- Suitable areas for wind farms are often near the coast, where land is expensive.
3- Some people feel that covering the landscape with these towers is unsightly.
4- Can kill birds - migrating flocks tend to like strong winds.
5- However, this is rare, and we tend not to build wind farms on migratory routes anyway.
6- Can affect television reception if you live nearby.
7- Can be noisy. Wind generators have a reputation for making a constant, low,
"swooshing" noise day and night, which can drive you nuts.
Having said that, as aerodynamic designs have improved modern wind farms are much
quieter. A lot quieter than, say, a fossil fuel power station; and wind farms tend not to be
close to residential areas anyway. The small modern wind generators used on boats and
caravans make hardly any sound at all.

Tidal power
The tide moves a huge amount of water twice each day, and harnessing it could provide
a great deal of energy

Advantages:
1- Once you've built it, tidal power is free.
2- It produces no greenhouse gases or other waste.
3- It needs no fuel.
4- It produces electricity reliably.
5- Not expensive to maintain.
6- Tides are totally predictable.
7- Offshore turbines and vertical-axis turbines are not ruinously expensive to build and
do not have a large environmental impact.
Disadvantages
1- A barrage across an estuary is very expensive to build, and affects a very wide area - the
environment is changed for many miles upstream and downstream. Many birds rely on the
tide uncovering the mud flats so that they can feed. Fish can't migrate, unless "fish
ladders" are installed.
2-Only provides power for around 10 hours each day, when the tide is actually moving in
or out.
3- There are few suitable sites for tidal barrages

Hydroelectric power: Energy from falling water


Wave power
Geothermal: Heat energy from underground

Not Renewable energy

Fossil fuels:
Coal, oil and gas are called "fossil fuels" because they have been formed from the
organic remains of prehistoric plants and animals.

Advantages :
1- Very large amounts of electricity can be generated in one place using coal, fairly cheaply.
2- Transporting oil and gas to the power stations is easy.
3- Gas-fired power stations are very efficient.
4- A fossil-fuelled power station can be built almost anywhere, so long as you can get large
quantities of fuel to it.

Disadvantages:
1- Basically, the main drawback of fossil fuels is pollution.
2- Burning any fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the "greenhouse
effect", warming the Earth.
3- Burning coal produces more carbon dioxide than burning oil or gas.
4- It also produces sulphur dioxide, a gas that contributes to acid rain. We can reduce this
before releasing the waste gases into the atmosphere.
5- More details on 'clean coal technology' from BBC News web site...
6- Mining coal can be difficult and dangerous. Strip mining destroys large areas of the
landscape.
7- Coal-fired power stations need huge amounts of fuel, which means train-loads of coal almost
constantly. In order to cope with changing demands for power, the station needs reserves.
This means covering a large area of countryside next to the power station with piles of coal.

Nuclear power:
Energy from splitting Uranium atoms
Nuclear power is generated using Uranium, which is a metal mined in various parts of
the world.
Nuclear power produces around 11% of the world's energy needs, and produces huge
amounts of energy from small amounts of fuel, without the pollution that you'd get from
burning fossil fuels.

Advantages
1- Nuclear power costs about the same as coal, so it's not expensive to make.
2- Does not produce smoke or carbon dioxide, so it does not contribute to the
greenhouse effect.
3- Produces huge amounts of energy from small amounts of fuel.
4- Produces small amounts of waste.
5- Nuclear power is reliable.

Disadvantages
1- Although not much waste is produced, it is very, very dangerous.
2-nIt must be sealed up and buried for many thousands of years to allow the
radioactivity to die away.
3- For all that time it must be kept safe from earthquakes, flooding, terrorists and
everything else. This is difficult.

4- Nuclear power is reliable, but a lot of money has to be spent on safety - if it does go
wrong, a nuclear accident can be a major disaster.
5- People are increasingly concerned about this - in the 1990's nuclear power was the
fastest-growing source of power in much of the world.