Energy Sources Types and Issues

There are at least twelve major energy sources in use today: petroleum, natural gas, coal, uranium, propane, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen and ocean wave. Our experiments in this course involve mostly solar and wind energy.

Energy sources are classified as renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable energy sources can be replenished in a short period of time, while nonrenewable sources take millions of years to form and their supplies are limited. Of those energy sources listed above, we can conveniently classify them into the following two categories:

• Renewable Energy - wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, hydrogen and ocean wave

• Nonrenewable Energy - petroleum, natural gas, coal, uranium, propane

There are environmental, economic, and societal trade-offs in the use of all energy sources. Different people (and bureaucracies) place differing emphases on the relative importance of these factors. The availability and cost of energy are determining factors in the economic health and growth of societies. The sooner we can begin to use clean, non-polluting renewable energy as our everyday forms of energy, the sooner all of us will benefit from cleaner air and a stable climate.

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