Energy is very important in today's world. Each and every appliance in our home or school runs on a source of energy, be it electricity that runs our televisions and computers or fuel and natural gas that drive our transport system.
So where does this energy come from? To answer that question, we need to look at the two sources of energy one taps into. One is non-renewable energy like oil, natural gas and coal. These are also known as fossil fuels. The other is energy that is produced from the sun, wind, water and biomass. These sources of energy will never die out and are called alternate energies.
RENEWABLE VS NON-RENEWABLE ENERGY
Non-renewable energy sources or fossil fuels come out of the ground in solid, liquid or gaseous form.
They release a lot of pollutants when used to create energy and have a limited supply. It is believed that the world uses fossil fuels 100,000 times faster than they are produced!
Renewable energy sources are clean and efficient. What's more, they use resources that are abundant in supply. Wind, for example, can be used to produce energy using windmills and solar energy is converted into electricity without polluting the air using solar cells.
RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY
Biomass: When garbage or other organic resources such as corn, sugarcane or vegetation are used to generate energy, the energy thus produced is called biomass power. When garbage decomposes, methane gas is produced, which is captured in pipes and later burned to produce energy. Vegetable oils can also be converted into bio-diesel that can burn like normal diesel. Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have large biomass plants.
Hydroelectricity: When the harnessed river water at a single location like a dam is released and is allowed to flow through a turbine, it flows at a great force. This force causes the blades of the turbine (engine consisting of giant wheels) to spin. The turbine is connected to a generator that makes electricity as the blades spin. After passing through the turbine, the water flows back into the river on the other side of the dam. Punjab, Bihar, Karnataka and Gujarat have some of India’s largest hydro power plants.
Wind Energy: Wind is the fastest growing source of electricity in the world. In fact, wind farms are springing up all across the world. In these farms energy is harnessed by using the power of the wind to move the blades of turbines attached to large wind mills. Wind farms are present in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat. Go to www.windpower.org/en/kids/intro/index.htm for an excellent representation of how wind turbines work.
Solar Power: Solar power involves using solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity through solar panels. The energy produced can be used directly or stored in batteries for later use. The world's highest solar energy plant is in Sikkim.