January 9, 2010
Types of Energy and Ways to Conserve
Energy conservation is important for each of us and our future generations. At the rate of consumption we can experience an energy shortage like never before. If we continue to deplete the resources that are available to us then it will affect us in many ways such as; forced rationing, increased cost, and restrictions on use. Now is the time to seriously look at alternative energy sources before it’s too late. For Industrialized nations, it is necessary to have reliable sources of energy. Energy is used for many things including; heating, cooking, transportation and manufacturing. Energy can be put into to categories, renewable and non-renewable. In this paper I will layout the differences between renewable energy and non-renewable energy, methods of energy conservation in our homes and communities, and finally economic impact of changing. Non-Renewable Energy
Currently, industrialized nations depend on non-renewable energy sources; In fact a majority of the energy used in the world today is from non-renewable supplies. Coal, oil, and natural gas are non-renewable fossil fuels. Because they cannot be renewed fast enough to keep pace with consumption, they are considered non-renewable and are the most commonly used type’s energy. Fossil fuels were formed over millions of years when decomposed plant and animal matter were buried by layers and layers of the earths crust and then it was transformed into carbon-rich material that is used as fuel.
The most abundant fossil fuel in the world is coal. A majority of the world’s coal reserves are located in Eastern Europe and Asia; however, the United States also has a large amount of reserves. Coal was formed slowly over millions of years when a spongy material called “peat” was buried deep into the earths crust. As the pressure and temperature increased, it converted this material into coal. There are two types of coal; lignite and anthracite. Lignite coal is the softer of the two, as it is made up of approximately half water and half carbon. As such, this type of coal has the lowest energy output. Anthracite is the harder of the two and is made up of almost all carbon. This type of coal produces the greatest energy when burned. Most of the coal found in the United States has high sulfur content. Unfortunately, the pollutant sulfur dioxide is released into the air when it is burned. Coal poses many environmental problems whether it is from the release of toxins in the atmosphere or the way it is mined. The majority of the use of coal is for power generation because it is very inexpensive to use.
Crude oil or liquid petroleum is a fossil fuel and generally refined into many different energy products such as; heating oil, diesel fuel and gasoline. Oil is formed underground in an organic rich rock known as shale. Once the oil is formed it moves upward into porous rock such as sandstone or limestone. A majority of oil is found near tectonic plates because the conditions are conducive to forming oil. Most of the world’s oil is found in the Middle East; however, there are large reserves in North America.
Unfortunately, the rate of consumption is exceeding the rate of discovery. If we continue to consume oil at this rate, it is estimated that we will exhaust all oil supplies within 30 years. Despite the limited supply, oil still remains a fairly inexpensive source of fuel. Because oil produces more energy than coal it is the preferred source of fuel. In addition, it burns cleaner than coal and produces about half the sulfur dioxide.
Despite the fact that oil burns cleaner than coal, it still causes environmental issues. When burned, oil releases toxins into the atmosphere such as; sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. These gases are known to cause smog that pollutes the atmosphere and leads to...