We all need energy. This doesn’t just mean within our bodies (for which we need food, sleep and good health). We need energy to heat ourselves, manufacture goods, travel, have fun, cook our food, help us see at night time and more. Some forms of energy we use are renewable; others are non-renewable.
Non-renewable sources of energy include:
- crude oil (petroleum)
- natural gas
- batteries (unless they’re rechargeable batteries)
Renewable sources of energy include:
- sunlight (we can’t use up the sun)
- water (as long as the dam sourcing a hydro lake has sufficient rainfall and snowmelt to keep the turbines going)
- plants (this includes trees for wood and firewood
- methane (produced from human and animal waste – and we all know that plenty of this is available!)
Many people are concerned that the non-renewable sources of energy are running out. No new oil wells are being discovered (if some are still knocking around, they’re often in difficult areas to access or in places that drilling is prohibited e.g. Antarctica). No new coal seams are coming to light – and even if they are, people are concerned about the carbon that is released to the atmosphere by burning coal (not to mention the horrible smoke that really ruins air quality). What is more, non-renewable forms of energy also have a tendency to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with a possible effect on the world’s climate.
Renewable sources of energy are being looked at as a solution not only to the problem of ever-dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, etc. but also to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.
Sunlight, wind and water are the most commonly used forms of renewable energy – usually to generate electricity – but other ways of generating electricity are being investigated, such as geothermal energy (using the heat from the earth’s interior when it comes near the surface in a volcanic area) and tidal energy.
Renewable energy can also be used for heating in a more direct way, rather than for generating electricity and then using that to heat homes and offices (and other buildings). Solar energy is again widely used for heating, in the form of passive solar design, solar water heaters and even solar ovens and incinerators. One form of renewable energy that this writer has seen used was landfill gas, which was burned (and it is clean-burning) to heat an indoor swimming pool/gymnasium complex – successful even when a bitter winter storm was raging outside.
Firewood is another form of renewable energy that is used for heating. According to one old saying, firewood can heat you three times over: once when you stack it, once when you chop it then a third time when you burn it.
- What is “Solar”?
- What is Renewable Energy?
- Learning About Renewable Energy Sources
- Touching On Renewable Fuel
- Why Use Clean Electricity?
- What’s The Deal With Renewable Resources?
- Common Types of Renewable Energy
- About Solar Energy & How It’s Harnessed