Energy Sources Essay

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INTRODUCTION Overuse of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum as a source of energy can cause pollution, mining damage, and contribute to climate change. They are increasingly limited resources that because they are valuable, can even become a cause of war. Regardless of attempts to make cars, machines, and devices that use fossil fuels more efficiently, fossil fuels will someday be very scarce and hard to find. The world needs other energy sources that are clean, renewable, and affordable. Most sources of "alternative" energy—which usually means energy from any source other than fossil fuels and nuclear fission—depend on obvious, natural sources of energy. The sun bathe Earth with light, which can either be turned into electricity or used directly for light or heat. The wind and rivers are loaded with kinetic energy (the energy of matter in motion). Tides raise and lower the sea, and hold a potentially useable source of energy. There is nothing new about these energy sources. People have always used the sun to light spaces, dry food and clothing, and heat buildings. Water wheels and windmills have done useful work for centuries. The challenge for modern scientists and engineers, however, is to find effective ways of harnessing these power sources (and others) on a scale large enough and a cost low enough to meet the needs of the more than six billion people already living on Earth, a number that is expected to increase. Many alternative or renewable energy sources, especially hydroelectric power, wind, and solar power, are already providing important amounts of energy or are capable of providing significant amounts of energy in the near future. SOLAR ENERGY The sun is probably the most important source of renewable energy available today. Traditionally, the sun has provided energy for practically all

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