Electricity comes from many sources. Some of the sources, such as fossil fuels, are disappearing because there is such a big demand for them. Scientists are researching new ways of generating electricity, so that if fossil fuels run out, there will be other sources. None of these alternative sources is ideal, but they all have their pros and cons. Here are some of the most popular sources of electricity; chose your favorite source in the poll on this page.
Solar energy is the energy that comes from the sun. We capture solar energy through solar panels. This energy produces no pollution; also it doesnít taint anything. About the equivalent of 22 million barrels of oil of solar energy hits the United States alone per day. This might sound like the perfect energy but it is costly and besides, you canít be sure that the sun will shine brightly without cloud cover everywhere in the country every day.
Fossil fuel is a material that can be burned and that comes from the fossil remains of animals and plants, such as long-dead dinosaurs. Some examples of fossil fuels are coal, natural gas and petroleum. This source is currently available and it is not dependent upon the weather. Some of the problems of fossil fuel use are that it causes pollution, it is a non-renewable resource and it needs to be mined from the earth. In addition, it causes acid precipitation which destroys life in lakes.
Hydroelectric energy is produced when water falls from a high place to a low place. A hydroelectric power station contains a turbine driven by falling water from a dam. The turbine drives the generator. This form of energy produces little pollution; in addition, it does not ruin the water. The water still can be used for other purposes. Hydroelectric power does not cost any more than fossil fuels. Another advantage is that there are a lot of lakes or rivers where a dam can be built to produce energy. One disadvantage is that fish, such as salmon, can not climb over the dam, so the dam changes the environment. Another disadvantage is that when a dam is built, a huge area is flooded to make a lake, so the water displaces the people and animals living there.
This energy is made by fusion or fission (if you don't know the terms go to the "about electricity" page.) It is produced in the reactor of a nuclear power station. The energy turns water into steam, which drives a turbine that powers a generator. Nuclear power produces lots of energy and can be made to power major cities. This energy, unlike other sources, produces lots of radioactive waste. If that waste gets released, it could cause devastation to a large area. In addition, it warms its waste water, so fish in the nearby lake might lay their eggs at any time of year in the warmed spot. Some fish, such as trout, cannot live in warm water.
Wind power is produced by the wind turning a turbine. Wind power, through using windmills, has been known for many centuries. This source of energy produces almost no pollution, and it is easy to capture in many parts of the United States. Some people think that the fields of windmills ruin the beauty of the land, and some other people are bothered by the noise generated by the windmills. Also, in order to be effective, the wind speed at a power site has to be over 12 kilometers per hour. Finally, this source of power is costly and requires special equipment.