To put it simply, energy sources refer to the sources of energy that are defined as the ability of a material to do work. The energy sources are sources that allow energy to be generated by any means. Energy resources in the world are separated into two groups as renewable and non-renewable energy sources depending on their formations.
Briefly, classification of energy sources are as follow;
Non-renewable Energy Sources
- Natural gas,
Renewable Energy Sources
- Solar power,
- Wind power,
- Hydraulic energy,
- Geothermal energy,
- Wave energy,
- Biomass energy.
These are the energy sources used today. Now let’s check them in detail.
Energy Sources and Types
1- What are Non-renewable Energy Sources?
Non-renewable energy is simply energy that can be consumed. This means that consumable fuel must be used to obtain this energy source. In general, the use of non-renewable energy sources is detrimental. Because when the fuel is burned for the use of these sources harmful wastes and gases are released into the environment.
Coal is the oldest sources of energy. The use of coal has increased significantly, especially after the invention of steam engines. The coal was used as a source of energy in the 1860s for the first time. Thermal power plants are used to generate electricity from coal. Coal has a huge share in usage intensity in developing countries.
Coal which is a non-renewable energy source is also among the fossil fuels.
Drill for oil in the world began in the 1900s. Since those years, oil drilling has also increased steadily in line with the increase in oil use. Oil is a very important energy source. Electricity is generated by burning oil as well as oil is used in almost all areas that you can imagine including generators and vehicles such as cars. Today, Cyprus is using oil resources very intensely in order to generate electricity.
It is also known that there is an approximately reserve of 50 years for oil which is among the consumable energy sources. Oil is also among the fossil fuels. This means that it is among the resources that are made of the fossilization of animals and plants over time.
c) Natural Gas
Natural gas is a very important resource in the non-renewable energy sources. It is very important for some of the countries. Because developing countries take the advantage of natural gas in terms of the electricity generation very intensively.
Natural gas began to be used as an energy source firstly in the 1950s. It is known that natural gas reserves in the world are about 8100 TCF. Today, we use 68 TCF annually. When the amount of natural gas consumed annually is considered, it can be said that the world has 120-year natural gas reserves remained.
Nuclear energy is among the non-renewable energy sources. It is not a fossil fuel. The first nuclear power plant began to operate in 1950. It has been determined how efficient nuclear energy is in those years and the number of nuclear power plants has increased continuously up to the day.
Nuclear power plants have very high yields. For instance, the amount of the energy obtained from 1 ton of uranium is equal to energy obtained from 20,000 tons of coal. The most intense use of nuclear energy is in Europe but especially in America and Russia.
The biggest drawback of nuclear power plants is their fuels are radioactive. In case of any possible accident, they can cause very large and lasting damage to the living creatures and nature.
2- What are Renewable Energy Sources?
Renewable energy sources are less harmful or non-harmful energy sources when compared to fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources. These energy sources are the energy sources that can renew themselves in nature. They are also called limitless energy sources.
a) Solar Power
Solar power is among the clean, natural and renewable energy sources. Solar power is a very clean energy source and it has almost no harm to nature and the environment. It is known that the solar power reaches to world from the sun is 1,7×10¹¹ MW. One-third of this solar power received from the sun is reflected back to space. The remaining energy amount is 1000 times more than the amount of energy generated in the world. However, we can only use a very small portion of this energy.
There are many methods utilized for the electricity generation with solar power. Thermal and photovoltaic are the main ones.
Solar power which is among the sustainable energy sources is located in the policy of many nations.
b) Wind Power
It is not a new story to generate electricity from wind power. Wind power which is among the renewable sources of energy it is being used very intensely today. Denmark is among the leading nations in terms of the wind turbine production, design, and development. Today, the wind turbines can generate electricity up to 1 MW. However, this amount can be increased up to 7 MW as a result of continuous research and development studies.
Wind turbines are used for electricity generation with the wind power which is among the natural sources of energy. Wind farms are created by combining more than 1 wind turbine. Of course, there is also the advantages and disadvantages of wind power which is a natural energy source. However, wind power is among the clean energy sources in an environmental sense.
c) Hydraulic Energy (Hydroelectric Energy)
Hydraulic energy is the most used energy source among renewable energy sources. It is an energy source obtained by the flow of water. It is known to be among the clean and natural energy sources. Electricity is generated from hydraulic energy with hydroelectric power plants.
The first hydroelectric power plant created by Nikola Tesla in Niagara Falls in the 1900s. Energy generation with hydraulic energy resources has been continuously developed since then. Even, hydroelectric power plants made up about 40% of America’s electricity generation in the 1930s. The share of hydroelectric energy in the energy resources in nations with plenty of falls are quite high.
d) Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy is an efficient and clean energy source which is among the renewable energy sources. It is made up of the thermal energy in the earth. The heat rate in the atmosphere is 0,05 Watt/m². This rate is causing the temperature to change in every one kilometer.
The first 10 kilometers beneath the earth’s surface vary due to the crust of the earth is not homogeneous. There are areas which are hotter than the expected under the crust of the earth. This heat is absorbed and stored by the rocks. An excavation of such an area will cause the hot steam to come out of the surface. This steam can be converted into electricity or any other energy.
The geothermal energy which is among the natural energy sources was first commercially developed in Italy in the 1900s. While the electricity capacity of the geothermal energy was 4500 MW between 1900 and 1985, the thermal capacity was 7500 MW.
e) Wave Energy
Wave energy is obtained from the movement of the ocean and sea surface. These wave movements usually occur due to the effect of the wind on the surface of the water. Wave energy is among the renewable energy sources thanks to its high yield.
Electricity generation from wave energy depends on the amplitude and frequency of the waves. While the electricity generation from the waves is about 10-20 kW per meter in the equatorial regions, they can increase up to 80 kW in high areas.
Wave energy is very important energy which is among the alternative energy sources.
f) Biomass Energy
Biomass energy is also among the renewable energy sources and their methods of utilization are quite extensive. Biomass energy can be used as a fuel to operate the vehicles in addition to the electricity generation.
The potential of the biomass energy usage is quite high. For instance, biodiesel can be produced by using waste oils from fast food restaurants. When a number of daily waste oils in these food restaurants are considered, it can be understood that biomass energy sources have a great potential.
Electricity is generated by using garbage wastes and biomass power plants.
In addition to this, some countries provide incentives for biomass energy and biofuels.
What Are the Future Energy Sources?
As a result of recent technological developments and researches, the sources of energy for the future are as follows:
- Space-based solar power,
- Human power-based energy (piezoelectric),
- Hydrogen energy,
- Magma energy,
- Nuclear waste energy,
- Algae energy (energy from algae),
- Energy generation with the flying wind turbine,
- Fusion energy.