Energy is one of the most important aspects in life. There are many sources of energy. However, the most prominent source of energy in almost all the parts of the world is fossil fuels. However, due to the negative effect of the consumption of fossil fuels specifically their propagation of global warming, scientists have embarked on improvising alternative sources of energy. Geothermal power and wind energy are among the alternative sources of energy.
The ability to do work is important in any human setting. Scientists term this ability as energy. The energy enhances the existence of almost everything that is in existence. Therefore, it is inevitable to survive without energy. This paper looks into the conversion of energy from one form to another, some of the sources of energy (fossil fuels and two alternative sources), besides comparing fossil fuels and alternative sources.
Conversion of energy from one form to another
Energy can be converted from one form to another. Scientists believe that this is one of the most important properties of energy. However, the conversion of energy from one form to another is accompanied by loss of some energy in form of heat. A good example of how energy is converted to different forms is the generation of electricity from fossil fuels. Burning of the fuel converts the chemical energy to heat energy.
This term refers to three forms of naturally existing sources of energy namely natural gas, coal and oil. Research has shown that fossil fuels were formed 286-360 million years ago-the carboniferous period (Lovins, 2012, p. 134. As years passed, the plants died and decomposed sinking to the bottom of the swamps where they formed successive layers of spongy material: peat. Due to the weight of the rocks that continued to pile on top of the peat, the water in the peat was squeezed out resulting into coal, natural gas and oil/petroleum. Archeologists argue that this process took place over a million years.
Several aspects make fossil fuels attractive sources of energy. One of the major reasons is that fossil fuels generate large amounts of electric power within a given location. Additionally, fossil fuels are not only easy to find but also efficient especially iin power stations that utilize natural gas. Through a well-established pipe system, fossil fuels (oil and gas) are easy to transport to power stations. It is also easy to construct power stations in any region that has fossil fuel deposits. However, their propagation of global warming has propelled the use of alternative sources of energy.
Alternatives to fossil fuels
Geothermal power is a potential source of energy. It owes its existence to the high temperatures within the earth’s crust. Research has shown that temperature increases by 3°C for every 100M towards the centre of the earth (Mihajlovic, 2011, p. 170). When underground water comes into contact with the hot rocks, its temperature increases and can reach temperatures as high as 148°C. The hot water is responsible for the generation of energy (Mihajlovic, 2011, p.179). Using some machines, one can drill holes down to the hot water region. Due to the high temperature of the water, it comes to the earth’s surface in the form of steam. The steam is then purified. After purification, it is used to turn turbines that drive electric generators leading to the production of electric energy.
Geothermal power is environmental friendly since it does not lead to any form of pollution. It is cheap to generate energy using geothermal power since the steam is heated by natural forces. Additionally, a geothermal power station does not require much space for it to operate. However, not all locations have the suitable natural factors that favor the generation of geothermal power. These include hot rocks that are easy to drill. The temperatures of the earth’s interior vary from one location to another. They also pose the danger of emission of dangerous harmful gases from the interior of the earth.
Wind power is also an alternative source of energy. Its existence is attributed to the fact that the heat produced from the sun is not uniform throughout the atmosphere causing temperature differences in different regions within the atmosphere (Diana, 2012, p.158). The displacement of warm air by cold air causes currents normally referred to as wind. Tall towers equipped with propellers are employed in tapping wind energy. The propellers should be large to enhance their efficiency. The wind blows the propellers enabling them to generators. This leads to the production of electric energy that can be converted into other forms using different electrical appliances.
Wind power has some advantages and disadvantages as well. It does not contribute in any way to greenhouse effect since it has no emissions. The land on which the towers are built can be used for other economic purposes such as farming. However, it is limited to areas with winds that have a minimum speed of 25km/hr. The propellers can be a source of noise pollution besides being able to kill birds.
As opposed to fossil fuels, geothermal and wing energy are renewable. As aforementioned, the combustion of fossil fuels has a negative effect to the atmosphere since it produces high levels of carbon dioxide that causes global warming. On the other hand, the alternative sources of energy are environmental friendly since they do not propagate global warming or nay other harm to the ecosystem. However, the availability of fossil fuels in large amounts has caused the continued use of the fuels as a source of energy in almost every region in the world.
Diana, M. (2012). Romania’s energy potential of renewable energies in the context of sustainable development. Annals of the University of Oredea, economic science Series, 20(12), 176-180.
Lovins, A.B. (2012). A farewell to fossil fuel. Foreign affairs, 91(2), 134-146.
Mihajlovic, B. (2011). Alternative energy sources as an important factor. Sernia’s Economic development, 8(1), 147-179.