Energy 101

III: Renewable Energy

Chapter 16: Bioenergy

Prior to the industrial revolution, bioenergy was the single most important source of energy in the world. While the cruder forms of bioenergy—such as wood, straw and dung—are a smaller fraction of the energy mix in industrialized countries than for developing countries, bioenergy consumption overall is growing. The market adoption of modern forms of bioenergy, …

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Chapter 15: Geothermal Energy

While the sun provides most of our renewable energy, the earth provides geothermal energy. The word “geothermal” means “heat within the earth” or “the earth’s heat”. Vents of steam exist naturally around the world, where steam seeps or shoots out of the ground. Creative individuals have been harvesting these steam vents for years. In addition, …

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Chapter 14: Solar Energy

Solar energy represents a very small fraction of today’s energy mix, but also holds the greatest potential as an energy supply for the future. Used to generate heat and electricity, solar power is inexhaustible, clean, and free. But solar energy has been plagued in the past by high equipment costs, and its availability remains variable …

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Chapter 13: Wind Energy

Humans have employed wind power for thousands of years in different forms. Windmills have provided a source of mechanical energy to pump water, grind grains, and polish glass. Sailboats use wind as a source of energy for transportation. However, modern uses of wind are almost exclusively for generating electrical power, though some iconic windmills exist …

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Chapter 12: Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric power generation is the most prominent form of renewable energy. As water flows downhill, its potential energy becomes kinetic energy, which turbines can convert into electricity. Gravity makes the operation of hydroelectric power very simple, but an economically viable system requires specific geological conditions to provide height differences and sufficient water resources. Thus, regions …

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Chapter 11: Intro to Renewable Energy

As a reminder, three original sources—the earth, the moon, and the sun—ultimately provide all the energy we consume. The earth provides nuclear fuels and geothermal resources. The moon induces tidal energy. The sun provides the rest, including the renewables such as wind, solar, hydro, and bioenergy. The sun also provides the fossil fuels, which are …

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