Over the course of history, humans found and developed many sources that can produce energy. Some energy sources are non-renewable, such as oil or coal, while others are renewable, for example, wind and solar power. There are many various types of energy sources. Many of them are popular and widespread, while some are restricted to certain areas because of their type of production. Primary types of energy sources that are utilized by many countries and organizations to this day include fossil fuels, which consist of coal, oil, and natural gas, clean energy types, which include wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass sources, and nuclear power sources.
Fossil Energy Sources
The process of burning fossils is one of the first sources of energy known to humankind. The energy sources of this type, namely coal, natural gas, and oil, are non-renewable because they were once formed beneath the earth’s surface. The fossils have to be burned to start the process of energy generation. The method of using such non-renewable sources has a significant impact on the environment. Coal and oil mining factories often occupy large territories, while the omissions from the burning process can pollute the atmosphere.
However, the use of fossils remains one of the traditional ways to produce energy because it has a well established and researched process (“Energy Sources.”). According to Zou et al., there is a major transformation in energy development that will decrease the widespread use of non-renewable fossil energy in favor of renewable types of energy (3). However, it is possible to note that some scientists are trying to develop a way for fossil energy sources to have a cleaner energy production process (“Energy Sources.”).
Clean Energy Sources
Clean power sources include a number of renewable resources that can be harnessed without afflicting the environment in the same way as fossil collection and incineration. Most commonly known and used types of clean energy are wind, solar, and geothermal power. Biomass energy is a type that is supplied mainly by agriculture. Each type has its drawbacks related to the level of emissions, reliability, and versatility.
Wind energy is a renewable energy type that can be utilized in climates, where the production of solar power is impossible or inconsistent. The energy of this type is produced by a special generator that is powered by wind. First, the wings of a turbine catch the passing air and start rotating. Then, the attached generator begins producing electricity. Such turbines are usually located outside of the living areas to avoid any hazardous situations.
According to Alrikabi, wind turbines do not emit any pollutants into the atmosphere and pose no threat to the safety of the environment (62). However, some scientists report that this particular type of energy production, while mostly harmless to people, can significantly endanger several species of birds and animals (Roehrl 103). Nevertheless, Roehrl says that various countries have adopted and improved the technology of wind turbines and are using it to this day (94).
Solar energy is another type of renewable energy. It is produced by solar panels that use the thermal energy of the sun and transform it into electricity. According to Alrikabi, some thermal solar collectors can also heat water directly (62). This type of energy requires a particular kind of climate with many sunny days per year. However, solar power has the potential of becoming popular because it is a clean and reliable source of energy.
For example, Yi concludes that the popularization of solar energy will positively affect not only the environment but also the employment rates for some businesses (923). Moreover, solar power can be considered more versatile than wind energy because of the solar panels used for this type of energy. Whereas wind turbines need a significant amount of space to produce energy, solar panels range in size, allowing manufacturers to utilize smaller panels for different needs. For example, some solar panels can supply individual appliances, such as calculators and watches (Alrikabi 62).
Geothermal energy comes from the heat emitted below the earth’s surface. The heat is produced by the underground hot water reservoirs that are situated on different levels under the planet’s surface. If a tank is close to the magma, the temperature of the water can be extremely high. This heat is then harnessed with the use of a special system, which consists of various heat pumps, pipes, and a heat exchanger.
This method can be used to generate electricity, heat water, and heat or cool air directly. Geothermal energy is clean because it does not emit greenhouse gasses. It is also renewable because the water is not extracted from the reservoir, and the temperature of the water can be easily managed. According to Zou et al., the geothermal energy development field is evolving rapidly and can become one of the popular clean energy sources along with wind and solar power (6).
Biomass energy, otherwise called bioenergy, is produced from biodegradable waste, such as plants, algae, and animal waste. This type of energy is often used to fuel vehicles because biomass can be easily converted into fuel. For example, instead of using gas or oil-based fuel, a vehicle can utilize ethanol or biodiesel. These types of biofuel come from natural and renewable sources, such as corn, animal fat, or vegetable oil.
Scientists have developed many processes to convert biodegradable mass into fuel. Such processes include the use of high temperatures, special chemical reagents, and bacteria. The production of this fuel is cleaner than the manufacture of gasoline (“Energy Sources.”). Furthermore, many of the byproducts of this conversion can be used as fertilizers, improving further growth of biomass. Biomass energy can be produced in countries that have a developed agricultural sector.
The use of nuclear power is not a new concept. This source of energy is rather widespread. Nuclear power is a byproduct of the process of nuclear fission. The process of nuclear power generation is considered to be cleaner than fossil fuel incineration because it does not result in the same level of polluting emissions (Murray and Holbert 97). In fact, nuclear plants do not release as many pollutants as fossil fuel plants (“Energy Sources.”).
People have explored and created many types of sources for energy generation. Fossil energy sources include gas, oil, and coal. These are the sources of energy that are still used to this day. Fossil energy production is effective, but the fossils are a non-renewable resource. However, scientists have developed many ways to get energy from renewable sources, opening up new possibilities for energy generation. Wind and solar power production is widespread and thoroughly researched. Other types of clean energy include geothermal energy, which comes from the natural underground hot water reservoirs, and biomass energy, which is generated from plant and animal waste. Nuclear energy comes from nuclear fission, a process that is considered clean because it does not result in air pollution.
Alrikabi, Nada. “Renewable Energy Types.” Journal of Clean Energy Technologies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2014, pp. 61-64.
“Energy Sources.” Department of Energy, 2017. Web.
Murray, Raymond, and Keith E. Holbert. Nuclear Energy: An Introduction to the Concepts, Systems, and Applications of Nuclear Processes. Elsevier, 2014.
Roehrl, Richard Alexander. “Clean Energy for Sustainable Development.” Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, edited by Rob Vos, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015, pp. 81-107.
Yi, Hongtao. “Green Businesses in a Clean Energy Economy: Analyzing Drivers of Green Business Growth in US States.” Energy, vol. 68, 2014, pp. 922-929.
Zou, Caineng, et al. “Energy Revolution: From a Fossil Energy Era to a New Energy Era.” Natural Gas Industry B, vol.3, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-11.