In the energy consumption world, coal, oil and gas have been the top competitors for a long time, but now we are hearing more and more exciting news regarding renewable energy sources like wind, hydro, geothermal and solar.
In general, energy sources can be split into two main categories: Finite and Renewable. Finite Energy resources (petroleum, natural gas, coal, etc.) are those resources found on earth with limited quantities. Renewable energy resources are those that can be continually generated and are unlikely to be depleted.
Finite Energy Sources
With finite energy source; materials are extracted from the ground either by mining or drilling technologies and then goes through a refining process. The newly refined material is burned in order to biol water and create steam. The steam spins turbines, which generates electricity.
Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable Energy Resources, on the other hand, are continually generated.
Biomass is the organic material harvested from plants, animal fats or waste. Biomass products can be burned in a combustor or furnace to generate steam, which is fed into a steam turbine to produce usable electricity. Examples of biomass material used in the united states includes wood and ethanol.
Geothermal energy also utilizes steam to produce electricity. The steam comes from reservoirs of water found miles underneath the earth’s surface heated by magma. The steam is fed to turbines that activate special generators to product useable electricity.
Wind drives the spinning of giant windmills, which spins to generate electricity. Wind turbines capture the winds kinetic energy and use it generate usable electricity through the use of a special generator.
Water spins turbines which in turn create electricity. Hydropower includes waves and tidal power as well as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
There are multiple forms of solar energy, but the most common used to power homes and building is photovoltaic or PV solar energy. In this system, solar panels directly gather sunlight and convert that light into electricity that powers home appliances. Solar Energy, in general, is the most renewable energy resource we have available on this planet.
To learn all things solar, check out AES’ Solar Guide for more quality info!