Energy is the ability to perform work. An energy resource is defined as something that can generate heat, power life, move objects, or generate electricity (I.e., The sun which is our primary source of energy). We use energy in our homes, agriculture, and manufacturing industrial goods, transportation, and so on. All used energy generates heat and contributes to global warming. Long-term energy consumption trends should favor a cleaner global energy system that is less carbon-intensive and less reliant on finite nonrenewable energy sources.
TYPES OF ENERGY RESOURCES
- Renewable energy resources
- Non-renewable energy resources
1. RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCES
Renewable energy systems use resources that are constantly replenished and, as a result, are typically less polluting. Hydropower, solar power, wind power, and geothermal energy are a few examples.
By constructing dams across rivers, this method uses water flowing down a natural gradient to turn turbines and generate electricity, which is known as “hydroelectric power.”
Solar energy is abundant because the sun is the ultimate source of energy in an ecosystem. Thought to be a major future source of energy because it is nonpolluting and inexhaustible.
• Solar energy-devices
Solar heating for homes: In solar-heated buildings, sunspaces are built on the south side of the structure which acts as large heat absorbers. The floors of sunspaces are usually made of tiles or bricks that absorb heat throughout the day, then release heat at night when it’s cold.
Solar cookers: The heat produced by the sun can be directly used for cooking using a solar cooker.
Solar water heating: Most solar water-heating systems have two main parts: the solar collector and also the storage tank. The solar power collector heats the water, which then flows to a well-insulated storage tank.
Other Solar-Powered Devices: Solar desalination systems (for converting saline or brackish water into pure distilled water) have also been developed.
2. NON-RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY
These are mineral-based hydrocarbon fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which were formed from ancient prehistoric forests.
These are referred to as “fossil fuels“ because they are formed after the Plant-life has been fossilized. Fossil fuels are found deep within the earth’s crust, where they were formed by the heat and compression of forest waste and other organic matter that became buried due to earthquakes, landslides, and other natural disasters.
Forms: Solid (Coal), Liquid (Petroleum), Gaseous (Natural gas)
• Problems associated with the use of fossil fuels
- When burned, they emit waste products into the atmosphere in the form of gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide, all of which contribute to air pollution.
- These caused lung problems, harmed buildings such as the Taj Mahal, and killed many forests and lakes as a result of acid rain.
- Many of these gases also act as a greenhouse, causing global warming, an increase in global temperature, increased drought in some areas, floods in others, the melting of ice caps, and a rise in sea levels, which is gradually submerging coastal belts all over the world.
- Warming the seas also causes the decimation of sensitive organisms like coral.
Coal, the most abundant fuel on the earth. It is made up of carbon, water, sulphur, and nitrogen. Coal accounts for 70% of the world’s total energy needs. It is used in cooking, manufacturing, and thermal power plants.
Impact of coal on environment
- Suspended particulate matter (SPM) is emitted by coal-fired power plants, and it is a major contributor to air pollution.
- Coal combustion also generates sulphur and nitrogen oxides, which, when combined with water vapour, resulting in “acid rain.”
- Thermal power plants that use coal generate waste in the form of ‘fly ash’(fine powder). Large dumps are needed to dispose of this waste, but efforts have been made to use it to make bricks.
Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture that is primarily composed of methane but also contains varying amounts of other higher alkanes.
Impact of natural gas on environment
- Natural gas extraction and consumption is a significant and growing contributor to climate change. When released into the atmosphere, it is a powerful greenhouse gas, and when burned, it produces CO2.
- When burned, emits less waste and toxins than other fossil and biomass fuels at the point of use. However, gas venting and flaring, as well as unintended fugitive emissions throughout the supply chain, can have a similar overall carbon footprint.
3.Oil & its impact on environment
- Leaks of oil and natural gases in air and water heavily pollutes them
- Leaks causes accidental fires
- During refining oil, solid waste like salts and grease are produced which damage the environment.
- Oil slicks are caused at sea from offshore oil wells, cleaning of oil tankers.
- Oil-powered vehicles emit toxic gases.
- Dependence on decreasing fossil fuel resources, especially oil, results in political tension, instability, and war.
- Nuclear energy is the extraction of powerful energy from the nucleus, or core, of an atom. Nuclear energy is released through nuclear fission, the process by which an atom’s nucleus splits. Nuclear power plants are sophisticated machines that use nuclear fission to generate electricity.
- Nuclear energy is typically regarded as yet another non-renewable energy source. The material (U-235) used in nuclear power plants is not infinite. There are significant disagreements regarding the use of nuclear energy as a renewable energy source.
TYPES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
- Nuclear fission
- Nuclear fusion
When a heavy nucleus is bombarded with neutrons, it splits into lighter nuclei (barium and krypton), releasing a large amount of energy. The amount of energy released by 1 kg of Uranium-235 is equivalent to the amount of energy produced by burning 3,000 tonnes of coal.
A nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei with low-atomic-number fuse to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy.
Nuclear reactors: Specialized chambers where nuclear reactions are carried out to produce energy.
GROWING NEEDS OF ENERGY RESOURCES
As man-kind is expanding its horizons in the field of technology and well-being there is a constant need for energy resources to meet requirements.
We need energy resources in various aspects like Homes, Industries, Agricultural activities, Transportation, Lighting Etc.
WHY ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY?
Alternative energy encompasses all renewable and nuclear energy sources in addition to fossil fuels (such as coal, petroleum, and diesel). Although nuclear energy is less harmful to the environment than fossil fuels, it is not considered a renewable energy source because nuclear material cannot be replenished within a human lifetime.
Nuclear energy is created by using elements such as uranium and thorium, which cannot be replenished and have a finite supply.
TYPES OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESOURCES
- Wind energy: is one of the most environmentally friendly and easily accessible sources of energy. Wind energy is environmentally friendly and produces no carbon emissions as a by-product. It is also completely renewable because there will always be wind.
- Solar energy: is probably the most well-known alternative energy source, and for good reason. Solar energy is completely renewable, and the installation costs can be recouped through energy bill savings. The only potential disadvantage of solar panels is that they deteriorate over time and are not completely weather-proof in countries with erratic weather.
- Hydrogen gas: is a significant energy carrier and a potential alternative clean energy fuel with a significant market share in the global fuel market. Today, however, hydrogen gas is primarily produced using fossil fuels, which are harmful to the environment. Bio-hydrogen has been described as a more sustainable version of this energy source.
- Tidal energy: Because this method of producing energy is still relatively new and has only produced a small amount of energy thus far, it will be a long time before we see real results from tidal energy.