When are we actually talking about a source of energy? A source of energy can be an object or form of matter that contains energy and can transfer energy to another object or form of matter. As examples you can name, the wind, the sun, fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal. The following are also sources of energy, but you would not think about them straight away: food, burning wood, uranium and magnets.
For everything we do we need an energy source to be able to move. As human and animals we get that energy that we need from food. The machines that you have in your home get their energy from electricity, the car in which you drive needs fuel as an energy source. Most energy sources that we use to create electricity we get from the ground, these you would call fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil. These sources of energy have the disadvantage that they are bad for the environment, this is the reason that we are searching for alternative sources of energy.
Examples of alternative energy are solar energy, energy from water, energy from biomass, nuclear energy and wind energy. If you want to use the energy of the sun as a source of energy, then you have to catch the sunlight with a solar panel, this panel consists of solar cells. With solar panels the sunlight is absorbed by a solar cell and then small particles are released, we call these particlesl electrodes. The electrodes are starting to move and through this you get electric power.
Another alternative source of energy is water power. Big power centres make use of a big hydroelectric dam, which ensures that water is stopped from flowing downstream. In this dam there are tubes that make sure that the water flows through big turbines. These turbines can be compared to a propellor that is being spun round. The quicker the water goes through the tubes, the faster the propellors spin and thus more energy is generated.
The energy source that is called biomass is a source that gains their energy from plants. Plants store a lot of energy. Wood delivers the most energy, 15 per cent of all energy is coming from wood or wood waste. There are also plants that you can process to become fuel. Garbage can also be used as biomass, but only if it consists a 100 per cent from natural materials. Droppings of animals can also be used, they can easily be transformed into gas. You would have to store the manure in an airtight vessel, methane is then released which is in turn used as an energy source to heat and light up homes.
Nuclear energy is energy that is released through a reaction between atomic nuclei, these are made of uranium bars. Because of nuclear fusion, energy is released. The energy that you get is then used to heat up water to about 300 degrees and the steam of this water ensures the spinning of a turbine. This turbine will deliver the electricity to the net.
We can keep using the energy sources of oil and gas for another 50 years at least, whilst there is still enough coal to last us for about 300 years. The disadvantage with these sources of energy is that they are not good for the environment, to gain the energy from these sources you will always have to burn them, then they produce gasses that cause acidic rain. It is also believed by many that the production of these CO2 gasses is heating up the planet, causing a change in climates all over the world. This also means that the area of the north and south pole is heating up and large quantities of permanent ice are starting to melt. This is raising the sea water levels and perhaps causing some countries to become submerged, just like Atlantis, in a few years.
Wind energy can also be called an alternative source of energy, in the past people already noticed that you can use wind as a source of energy. Throughout history we have seen people build big sailing ships that did not have engines, but used wind as their source of forward propelling power. Hundreds of years ago we have also seen windmills turn with four blades that were propelled round by the wind. With the wind as a source of energy we could then grind corn, saw timber and pump water. Now you see the same happening in the form of wind turbines with propellor blades attached, these mills have improved a lot over the last decennia.
The blades of a modern windmill are attached to a large dynamo, in this way it can generate electricity when the wings spin round. You can see that the wings of today look completely different than they used to in the past. The blades of nowadays have been designed in such a way that the wind can easily flow past. Considering sunlight, not every country gets enough sunlight all year round and that is why in countries like the Netherlands, which knows the iconic windmills of the past, have installed many wind turbines to generate electricity. When you go for a ride in your car you will see a lot more windmills nowadays, the windmills are so big that you will see them from far away. You could call a windmill a form of clean energy. The big advantage of windmills as a source of energy is that they are never depleted and they are clean. Now you should not think that everybody loves windmills as a source of energy, there are a lot of people that do not want to look at the big blades spinning and besides they make a lot of noise as well. This is the reason that you will often only see windmills along roads that are very remote.
Natural gas together with coal and oil are the three fossil fuels. They are the result of millions of years of storage of dead plants or plankton in the earth. These fossil fuels are depleting and also a burden to the environment. This is because the stored CO2 that comes into the air when combusted is causing the heating of the earth.
In total in the Netherlands for example, 25% of the electricity is coming from coal. Coal is created in a process of about 300 million years of pressed together waste materials of plants so that they now have a high energy level. In a coal power plant, coal is ground to a powdered form. This ensures that it is easier to burn. This burning powder heats up a big kettle in the power plant. Through this, steam is released and this drives the turbine that can pass on the energy to the electricity network. This way of generating energy is very burdensome for the environment.
When you are talking about climate neutral or CO2-neutral then the usage does not contribute to climate change. But this is not a 100 per cent right, because with CO2-neutral gas the combustion of natural gas is compensated with trees that need to be planted for example. Trees take in CO2, the take in of CO2 is used as a compensation to the emission of CO2 during the combustion process. This means that the emission is brought back to zero. CO2-neutral is seen as renewable energy, only it is less renewable than for instance solar power or water energy.
Energy derived from sunlight is very renewable, this is because during the production of electricity no harmful gasses or substances are released. Besides, sunlight is inexhaustible. At the moment there are many initiatives across the world that promote the usage of solar power, so that it will be used more widely. More and more people are making the choice to install solar panels onto their roof, so that they can generate their own electricity. This is quite an investment, but within a few years you can earn this back most of the time. In how many years you can do this depends on how many solar panels you choose, which type and the costs of these panels and the installation.
You can see water energy as a form of renewable energy. Water power is the energy that is created from flowing water, no harmful substances are released in the process.
As you can see there are a myriad of different types of energy sources. People have been very creative in the past and we cannot under estimate the creative minds of the future. Perhaps in the future there will be a totally different kind of energy source that is discovered, and that we somehow can use to derive electricity from. In the mean time it is key that both governments and citizens alike take the action to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, and preferably not the CO2-neutral gas. Solar power seems to becoming more and more popular. The company Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, is promoting solar panels and batteries for affordable rates. Besides this they are also selling cars that run on electricity. In this way we do not need any fossil fuels to power all of our appliances at home, and go to work and on holiday with our cars. Let us make the future a bright one!