You are on page 1of 4

Coal Energy

Coal is a rock that burns as it releases energy. It is mostly made of the chemical element carbon. Some coal is
brown and crumbly, and some coal is hard, black, and glossy. The greater the percentage of the coal that is
carbon, the higher its rank or potential energy. Coal is among the fossil fuels along with oil (petroleum), and
natural gas. The fossil fuels are considered non-renewable energy resources.
Click a number below for more information on Coal Energy:

Natural Gas
Natural Gas as we know it is made up mostly of methane. Methane, a combination of hydrogen and carbon, is
formed when plants and animals (organic matter) are trapped beneath the sedimentary layers of the earth.
Millions of years ago these organisms died and were buried along with mud and sand, usually on the floors of
lakes, oceans and river beds. The organic matter was slowly broken down by bacteria.
This process consumed most of the oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur and left behind deposits high in
hydrogen and carbon. As the layers of sediment increased, so did the pressure and temperature, creating
fossil fuels. Higher temperatures produced lighter petroleum, while lower temperatures produced thicker
asphalt-type materials. Eventually the petroleum migrated, or moved out of the source rock and into
reservoir rocks where man could extract the fuel for processing and use.
Click a number below for more information on Natural Gas Energy:

Petroleum
Petroleum (oil) is a member of the fossil fuels, which include, coal, oil, and natural gas. These were all formed
from the decay of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. These organisms died and were buried
along with mud and sand, usually on the floors of lakes, oceans and river beds. The organic matter was slowly
broken down by bacteria.
This process consumed most of the oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur and left behind deposits high in
hydrogen and carbon. As the layers of sediment increased, so did the pressure and temperature, creating
fossil fuels. Higher temperatures produced lighter petroleum, while lower temperatures produced thicker
asphalt-type materials. Eventually the petroleum migrated, or moved out of the source rock and into
reservoir rocks where man could extract the fuel for processing and use.
Click a number below for more information on Petroleum Energy:
Wind Power
Wind power is a renewable resource. Wind is a form of solar energy. About 2% of the solar radiation that
falls on the earth is converted to wind energy in the atmosphere. At any given moment, half of the earth's
atmosphere is exposed to the sun, and an equal amount is in shadow. The cyclical heating and cooling
transforms the biosphere into a huge heat engine, generating energy, some of which is manifested as wind.
Like solar energy, the major drawback to the use of wind as an important energy source is the problem of
storage. Wind can be used to generate electricity, but only if the winds constantly remain over 8-10 mph.
Thus, effective storage mechanisms, such as batteries, must be used if wind is to be a substitute for current
sources of energy.
Mankind has been making use of wind power for centuries. One of the first known uses was to propel sailing
ships. This was followed, centuries later, by the development of windmills. Windmills enabled the Netherlands
to become one of the world's most industrialized nations by the 17th century. In the United States, windmills
played an increasingly important role in the nations development from the early 1800's through the first
quarter of the twentieth century.
Click a number below for more information on Wind Energy:

Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy can be harnessed from the Earth's natural heat associated with active volcanoes or
geologically young inactive volcanoes still giving off heat at depth. Steam from high-temperature geothermal
fluids can be used to drive turbines and generate electrical power, while lower temperature fluids provide hot
water for space-heating purpose, heat for greenhouses and industrial uses, and hot or warm springs at resort
spas. For example, geothermal heat warms more than 70 percent of the homes in Iceland, and The Geysers
geothermal field near Santa Rosa, in Northern California produces enough electricity to meet the power
demands of San Francisco.
The Earth's crust, on which we live and depend, is in large part the product of millions of once-active
volcanoes and tremendous volumes of magma that did not erupt but instead cooled below the surface.
Click a number below for more information on Geothermal Energy:
Solar Energy
Solar Energy, provided by the sun is the most inexhaustible and cleanest source of energy known. Its heat and
light arrive week in and week out - free. But not in uniform amounts each day, or in concentrated form, and
not at all at night. Consequently, the barriers to greater use of solar energy by a world faced with dwindling
energy resources are significant: mainly, diffusion and the inability economically to store solar energy, use it
directly, or convert it to electricity.
Click a number below for more information on Solar Energy:

Hydropower
Hydropower produces about 20% of the world's electricity. In the United States, this resource accounts for
12% of the nation's supply of electricity. This 12% can be thought of in the following ways: (1) Hydropower
produces more than 90,000 megawatts of electricity annually, which is enough to meet the needs of 28.3
million consumers. (2) Hydropower accounts for over 90% of all electricity that comes from renewable
resources (e.g.- solar, geothermal, wind, biomass). (3) Hydropower is generated at only 3% of the nations
80,000 dams.
The process starts with the annual hydrologic, or water cycle, providing seasonal rain and runoff from
snowpack. The runoff from rain and snow collects in lakes, streams and rivers and flows to dams
downstream. The water funnels through a dam, into a powerhouse and turns a large wheel called a turbine.
The turbine turns a shaft that rotates a series of magnets past copper coils in a generator to create electricity.
The water then returns to the river. From the powerhouse, transmission lines carry electricity to
communities.
Click a number below for more information on Hydropower Energy:

Nuclear Energy
The principle of producing electricity by heat is the same in nuclear power production as in coal or oil based
energy production. By heat, the water is boiled to high pressure steam. The steam rotates the turbine. The
generator attached to the turbine generates electricity. In a nuclear power plant the heat needed for
producing electricity is generated in a nuclear reactor by the fission of atomic nuclei.
In the energy production, nuclear energy replaces fossil fuels, mainly coal, which pose significant
environmental hazards. Of the new energy forms, nuclear power is so far the only one ready for large-scale
energy production. In addition, nuclear power is economical and the annual fuel reserve of a nuclear power
plant can be transported in just a few truck loads.
Click a number below for more information on Nuclear Energy:

Biomass Energy
Biomass describes all solid material of animal or vegetable origin from which energy may be extracted. Plant
products (such as corn husks, branches, or peanut shells), waste paper, and cow dung are examples of
biomass fuels. Biomass can be heated, burned, fermented, or treated chemically to release energy.
Since all biomass is produced by photosynthesis, basic research in photosynthesis may provide systems that
directly convert sunlight into fuels. Although biomass already has many uses - from direct burning of wood
and wood residues to converting animal wastes to gas-it will play a greater role in the future as research
continues and the cost of oil continues to rise.
Click a number below for more information on Biomass Energy:

What other sources of energy for electricity can you find that
are not listed among the Energy Sources on the left?
What are renewable energy sources?
How is Hydrogen used as a source of energy for producing
electricity?
How are tidal and wave motion used as a source of energy?