Renewable and Conventional Energy

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as wind, rain, sunlight, geothermal heat and the tides, which are naturally replenished. As our world's need for additional fuel continues to rise, we must look at renewable energy sources. Most prominent sources include: wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass/biofuel. With continuing research and growing technology, other forms of renewable energy can include hydrogen and fuel cells.

Nonrenewable energy is a source which is limited in quantity and cannot be replenished. These types of sources cannot be grown, manufacturer, or reproduced. The four nonrenewable energy sources used most often are: Oil, Natural Gas, Coal, and Nuclear. While nonrenewable resources are a natural resource, the ability to produce these sources cannot be sustained at their current rates of consumption.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all forms of electricity generate some level of environmental impact. Environmental impact can be as invasive as mining operations or local as wind turbines killing birds. The overall impacts are dependent on the type energy being implemented, conventional or alternative. Our use of energy determines our environmental or carbon footprint. When we talk about our environmental footprint, electricity consumption is a major factor. If you totaled all the energy consumed in the US, 39% is used to generate electricity. Now while the majority of the electricity is generated from fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, it is easy to see that while using non-renewable resources, our electricity production is affecting the environment.

Renewable Energy

Biomass is a primarily carbon based fuel that is composed of a variety of organic materials, at times both plant and animal. Biomass can include freshly harvested crops or dead matters like fallen trees. Sources of biomass are very abundant as they include decaying crops, wood waste, forest debris, garbage, and even landfill gases. Bioenergy ranks second - to hydropower - in renewable U.S. primary energy production and accounts for 3% of the primary energy production in the United States (Kent Law).

A fuel cell is an electrochemical device which produces electricity by the process of converting chemical energy. This device combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as its by-products. Despite the varying electrolytes and operating temperatures, all fuel cells function similarly. They consist of two catalyst coded electrodes which separate the negatively charged electrons from the positively charged protons.

Geothermal electricity is the process of using underground heat to power electric plants, which ultimately deliver heat and power to copious properties. Geothermal energy is considered to be a sustainable source because the extracted amount of power is insignificant in comparison to Earth's total heat content. In addition, the emissions associated with such plants are estimated to be approximate 1/8th of a conventional coal plant.

Wind energy can be made using a free source that is virtually limitless. After manufacturing, wind turbines cause insignificant amounts of green house gases, especially when compared to conventional fuels. This means that aside from manufacturing, installation, and maintenance wind energy is virtually 'green.' The small amount of produced GHG and the renewable quality makes this energy a top candidate.

Conventional Energy

One of our most prolific non–renewable energy sources, coal is the most plentiful fossil fuel produced in the United States. Coal has the distinction as a non-renewable energy source for the reason that it takes millions of years to create, regrettably while being classified as the most abundant sources for energy.

Produced in the US and readily available to consumers through the existing utility infrastructure, natural gas is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative transportation fuel.

In 2009, Nuclear Power provided approximately 13–14% of the world's electricity. With only a slight decline in recent years, nuclear power generation accounted for nearly 56% of the electricity generated in the United States, France and Japan together. Currently, the United States produces the most nuclear energy, totaling to a global 19%. Yet, France produces the highest percentage of its country's total used electrically energy from nuclear reactors.

The remains of plants and animals living millions of years ago in a marine or water environment are the basis for how oil is formed before the age of dinosaurs. Over time these plant and animal remains were covered by layers and layers of sand and silt and through the pressures and heat in these layers their remains transformed into crude oil or petroleum. 'Rock oil' is a term typically used to define the word petroleum.

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