Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Quick introduction to energy sources

The energy can take many different forms and this is the main reason why there is a variety of different energy sources. The first thing you need to know about energy sources is the fact that fossil fuels, namely oil, coal and natural gas are still dominant sources of energy, despite the growing popularity of renewable energy sources.

There are two main differences between renewable energy sources and fossil fuels. First of all renewable energy sources are as their name suggests renewable, meaning that they can be constantly replenished unlike fossil fuels that are finite energy resources that will eventually become exhausted. The other difference refers to environmental impact where renewable energy sources do negligible environmental damage when compared with fossil fuels and the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is the main contributor to climate change phenomenon.

The renewable energy sources list includes these energy sources: solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, geothermal energy and biomass. Hydropower is the most widely used form of renewable energy because of its very long history.

Solar and wind energy are the most popular renewable energy sources. Solar energy is the most abundant form of energy available on our planet. The main reason why we don't use more of solar energy is because solar panels and other solar technologies are still connected with significant costs, and people do not want to pay higher energy bills, even if this means helping our environment.

Wind energy has more acceptable costs compared to solar energy though it is still far from being able to challenge the dominance of fossil fuels in terms of electricity generation. Wind energy and solar energy are not suited for all areas because they require plenty of wind/sunshine throughout the year.

Geothermal energy on the other hand is available 24-7 because it refers to heat within the Earth's core. However, considering the current technological level of geothermal drilling, geothermal power plants are economically viable only in areas near the tectonic plate boundaries where drilling demands aren't that great.
Biomass as an energy source has excellent potential because biomass material is available in all corners of the world. However, there have bee fears, that using more land for biomass production (instead of growing food crops) would lead to more hunger of the world so biomass as an energy option is still connected with significant level of controversy.

It is very realistically to accept that fossil fuels will remain dominant energy sources throughout this century. The share of renewable energy sources will no doubt significantly increase over the years but fossil fuels should still have the edge because the transition to renewable energy sources doesn't go as fast as some people have expected.

The downside of this prolonged dependence on fossil fuels is big damage to our environment, and the strengthening of the climate change impact.

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