Sources of energy can be divided into two main categories: renewable and non-renewable. Renewable simply means that the source can be rejuvenated to provide an almost endless supply of energy. Non-renewable sources are those that are prone to running out.
Renewable Energy Sources
Solar power is obtained by collecting the sun's heat and/or light using solar panels and photovoltaic panels and converting it into useable energy. It is commonly used for heating, cooking and electricity production.
- There is no emission of greenhouse gases in production of solar power.
- There is no fear of the sun “running out” or getting depleted.
- Solar power stations are costly to put up.
- Power generation is dependent on sunny weather conditions that aren't always available.
Wind towers have their blades turned by wind which in turn rotates magnets that produce electricity using a generator. They are usually used in large-scale on wind farms for greater profitability. This method is usually used in Europe, Asia and United States.
- The only cost incurred is that of building the wind towers.
- Safety risks are next to none when dealing with the turbines.
- Generation of wind power does not result in the production of greenhouse gases.
- Wind towers can only be in areas that are relatively windy and even then not every day is sufficiently windy for energy production.
- For adequate power generation, numerous wind towers must be built.
- Wind mills have been said to be aesthetically unpleasant to look at.
This is heat trapped in the earth's core that is harnessed to generate energy.
- There is no emission of harmful gases so long as the process is properly carried out.
- Power plants are relatively small thus have no adverse effects on the surrounding areas.
- Pollutants may be produced if drilling is done improperly.
- Geothermal sites can run out of steam.
Non-Renewable Energy Sources
The main non-renewable sources are fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
Fossil Fuels: These are found in three types- coal, petroleum and natural gas- all of which are derived from the decomposition of plant and animal matter.
- They are more easily available than other energy sources
- They are considered more affordable than many alternative energy sources.
- These fuels are the biggest producers of greenhouse gases.
- They are steadily decreasing in availability due to over-dependency on them that often results in overuse.
Nuclear Energy Sources: Nuclear energy can be obtained either using fission or fusion. Uranium atoms are split through fission to release large amounts of nuclear energy. The energy is then used to heat water which turns turbines that in turn produce electricity.
The use of fusion is thought to be more efficient than fission however research in its use is still in its early stages.
- A small amount of nuclear fuel can produce tremendous amounts of energy.
- There is no emission of greenhouse gases in production of energy.
- By-products from the use of nuclear fuel are highly toxic.
- Supply of sources of nuclear energy like uranium is very limited.
- Nuclear energy can easily be misused to carry out terrorist attacks.