Introduction

The Energy Story

  Energy Is Born
  Energy Types
  Energy Changes
  Energy Generation

The Energy Problem

  Conservation of Energy
  Aging of Energy
  Finite Resources
  The Oil "Crisis"
  Energy Pollution
  Discussion Topics

The Energy Solution

  Conserving Electricity
  Appliance Efficiency
  Heating Conservation
  Renewable Energy

Web Links

Teacher Guide

About the Author


Secret Lives Title - The Energy Story


Energy Generation


To generate energy, we must have some source to generate energy from. While energy is everywhere, only certain sources can be efficiently used.


Energy Sources

Following is a table of the most common sources of energy that are available to us today. These sources have been categorized into the 10 types of energy.

Chemical

Wood
Coal
Oil
Natural Gas
Hydrogen (Fuel Cells)

Occasionally Used
Extensively Used
Extensively Used
Extensively Used
Being Developed

Power Plant
Power Plant
Home Heating
PE
Gravitational Hydro Extensively Used Power Plant PE
Nuclear Uranium (Fission)
Heavy Water (Fusion)
Extensively Used
Being Developed
Power Plant PE
Kinetic Wind Alternative Power Plant KE
Light Solar Alternative Power Plant KE
Heat Geothermal Alternative KE

As you can see, useful sources have not been found for all 10 types of energy. Some sources are used a lot in our modern world, while others are still being developed.

Fuel cells and fusion are being researched for future use, while wind, solar, and geothermal have been around for years but have not been cheap enough to be used extensively. These available but not yet competitive sources (like solar) are often called alternative energy sources.

Note that the potential energy sources can be stored for future use. Oil from your home storage tank can sit for years until it is needed. The kinetic energy sources must be used as they are available since they cannot be stored. Once the sunshine or solar energy hits the ground, it no longer can be collected by a solar panel.

Also, some of these sources tend to be used to produce energy (or power - more on this later) in large power plants that produce electrical energy. While electrical energy is kinetic and cannot be stored, it can be easily distributed long distances to where it is needed, to industrial plants or to your home.