Generating Electricity

Energy Sources

There are a number of different ways in which we can convert energy into a useful form. These are then used for transport, electricity and heating

These are:

  • Fossil Fuels (coal, oil and gas)
  • Nuclear Fuel
  • Bio-fuel
  • Wind
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Geothermal
  • Tidal
  • Sun
  • Water Waves

Renewable and non-renewable energy resources

  • Generating Electricity, figure 1

A renewable energy resource is one that can be replenished during a human timescale. A non-renewable energy resource cannot be replenished during a human timescale. From the list above only the fossil fuels and the nuclear fuel are non-renewable.

Some energy resources are more reliable than others. The non-renewable sources are the most reliable __as they can be used at any time. Whereas, the renewable sources normally depend on the __weather. This means that if there is no wind, or no sun (night-time), or no waves then no electricity can be generated.

Some energy resources are better placed in certain places. For example, energy from the sun (solar panels) should be placed in sunny places or countries and wind turbines should be used in windy places. You may be asked to compare which energy resources are more useful in certain situations.

All the energy resources have an environmental impact, some are positive and some are negative.

In any question you can always mentioned whether or not the energy resource gives off greenhouse gases. Only fossil fuels and biofuels do, which means you can mention how every other energy resource does not.

Nuclear fuel can be detrimental as its waste products are radioactive and last for tens of thousands of years!

The fact that some can only be built in certain places can also be a negative impact. Wind farms are noisy and spoil the view, hydroelectric dams can flood a local area and are expensive to build and biofuels require a lot of space to grow the fuel.

For more information use this link to watch this short 4.5min video:

Society is trying to limit their reliance on fossil fuels __and use __more renewable energy resources.

Due to power outputs __and __ease of use, energy resources are used differently throughout the day.

  • Nuclear power is superb at giving the base rate of power. It is very slow to start up and power down, but gives a constant amount of energy.
  • Fossil fuels are normally used to top up according to use with renewable energy resources being used as much as possible.
What are the energy sources?
Your answer should include: fossil fuels / nuclear
Why is a nuclear power station more reliable than energy generated from the sun?
Your answer should include: all times / any weather / cloudy / night
Explanation: Nuclear power stations are be used at all times and in any weather. Energy from the sun does not work as well when it is cloudy or night time.
Which energy resources produce greenhouse gases?
Your answer should include: fossil fuels / biofuels