Technological advances are being developed annually to meet the growing demand for clean and environmentally friendly energy resources. Environmental concerns are currently at the forefront of the conversation. Fuel costs and the emissions which are released into the atmosphere are major concerns as well. As a result, there is a strong consensus that more effort needs to be placed on capitalizing on new energy resources. Interestingly, almost all types of energy that human beings use comes from the sun. You might be familiar with solar energy, but more common energy types derive their power from the sun as well. Coal is one of these energy resources which would not be available if were not for the sun’s solar abilities.
There’s the harmful fossil fuels
Coal, gas and oils are fossil fuels. Fossil fuels consist of the organic remains of mostly prehistoric plants and animals. Plants store energy from the sun within their leaves, and it remains there even after the plants die. Coal stems form over time, and when the coal is harvested, it can be burnt to produce usable energy. Oil and coal are primary energy resources, but they are not environmentally conscious options. In order to use the energy stored inside coal, for example, it must be burned. The process of burning it releases harmful emissions into the air. You can clearly see evidence of this problem when you drive into major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, California. Pollution can clearly be seen hovering over this city, as well as larger regions within China.
Most energy resources are hailing from the sun
Naturally, this drives people to look for other energy resources. While the sun is capable of producing harmful energy resources which must be burnt for utilization, it also provides direct solar power. Many people do not even realize that wind power comes from the sun. Wind power has been used since Babylonian times, and the Chinese were using it to help them irrigate crops more than 4,000 years ago. The term Windmill comes from the use of natural energy resources to grind corn. You might be wondering how the sun plays a part in wind production. The sun heats different areas of the earth unevenly. Warmer areas create patches of air which rise, causing replacement air to move into its place. This movement of replacement air is what drives wind turbines to create usable energy.
Another energy resource that people utilize is water. Water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface, so it only makes sense that using it to provide power is a priority. Similar to wind-driven turbines, water runs through tunnels at the base of dams. The movement of water then flows through the turbines, which are connected to generators. Electricity is created when these turbines work together to power the generators. There have been debates over the years about the environmental effects of dams on river systems. Scientists have made a concerted effort to assess the ways in which these dams influence ecosystems. Dams are built to withstand large amounts of water pressure, with the thickest areas of the dam being located at the bottom. This water pressure is necessary to create enough force on the turbines.
Energy resources come in a variety of options. An increasingly popular option is the use of solar panels. Have you ever used a calculator that did not require the use of batteries? These calculators turn on if there is a light source near them. They do not even need an on/off button, because they simply turn off when they are stored in a dark drawer or a student’s desk. Similarly, people use solar panels to charge batteries, and to help to provide heat and electricity for homes. Most homes which operate off of solar energy also use wind turbines to generate their power. Normally, when sunlight hits an object that light turns into heat. However, solar panels use materials such as silicone to absorb energy and store it to use as electricity. More people are using this energy resource because it is free, and it does not send out harmful carbon dioxide.
Perhaps less commonly used, geothermal energy is energy which originates from within the earth. These energy resources come from the interior of the earth, where high temperatures are normal. Studies show that temperatures rise by one degree Celsius for every 30 to 40 meters that you go down through the earth’s crust. Over the years, different cultures and civilizations have capitalized on geothermal energy, especially in volcanic regions. Some of these areas produce hot springs, which are pools of water which rise from deep within the earth. People have used this type of energy for heating and cooking needs for thousands of years.
Great Britain is highly regarded as a country which prides itself on producing green electricity. One of the ways in which people do this is through tidal power. Harnessing tidal power can be a difficult endeavor, even though the ocean provides 2 tidal cycles of water movement each day. The use of tidal power is not unlike that of rivers. A large dam or barrage is built at the mouth of a marine estuary and river system. This limits who can use tidal power in the world, because natural geographic features must be in place for it to work successfully. As the tide comes in and out, it turns a turbine which then powers an electrical generator. There are still studies being conducted to help other countries to develop this technology without upsetting nature’s balance.
Turning to better energy resources, a necessity!
Quality energy resources come in a variety of forms, but they all share the common bond of being geared toward clean energy. Many believe that the extraction of oil directly contributes to environmental issues. This was evident during the Exxon Valdez oil spill on March 24, 1989, in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Such catastrophes can be averted if more people turn to better energy solutions. The earth continues to grow in population at an exceptional rate, so it is critical that more people adopt environmentally conscious energy practices.