Many Different Energy Resources Can Be Used to Make Electricity
Energy resources can be divided into two categories: nonrenewable and renewable.
Many power plants use fossil fuels. The fossil fuel is burned to produce heat, which is used to make steam. The steam is then used to turn the blades of a turbine.
Some power plants run on nuclear power, which is another nonrenewable resource.
Nuclear power plants rely on uranium, a type of metal that is mined from the ground and specially processed. Heat released from splitting uranium atoms is used to convert water into steam that turns turbines.
A renewable resource is fairly easy to replace. Renewable energy resources include wood, wind, sunshine, geothermal energy, biomass, and water stored behind dams in lakes andreservoirs. Electricity can be produced using several kinds of renewable resources.
Wind energy can produce electricity in regions where steady winds blow. Giant wind turbines capture the wind’s energy and use it to power generators.
Biomass is material that is formed from living organisms, such as wood or agricultural wastes. Biomass can be burned to produce electricity, or be converted to a gas and used for fuel.
Geothermal energy uses hot water or steam from deep beneath the earth’s surface to produce electricity.
Hydroelectric power plants use the energy of falling water to spin generator turbines.
Solar energy can also be used to produce electricity. Solar cells change the radiant energy of the sun into electrical energy. Some calculators and portable radios are powered by solar cells. Solar panels, or modules, placed on a rooftop can supply electricity to the building below.