There’s a lot of worry about an “energy crisis” that’s about to hit—or is already currently being felt in—the United States and the world. As human beings, we rely on energy to do everything from power our homes to fuel our cars. Energy provides us with entertainment and news and we rely upon it to do even the most basic of tasks, like package or cook food for our nourishment. As technology improves, more sources of energy are becoming accessible to us. Here are a few different sources of energy that are currently being improved upon.
Solar power is a type of renewable and sustainable energy, which means that it’s unlimited in its quantity and it’s not harmful to the environment. Solar energy works by harnessing light from the sun and converting it to useable power. Solar paneling on homes, cars, and boats has become quite popular in recent years, and provides the energy to power motors and generate electricity, virtually diminishing utility or gas costs. The downside to solar energy is that the technology is expensive, and that solar energy only works when the sun’s out—energy can’t be provided during evening hours—or if the power is stored in a battery. As technological advancements are made the equipment will likely become much less expensive and allow more everyday users to take advantage of this excellent resource.
Wind energy is capitalized on with the use of wind turbines. An awesome example of how a wind turbine works is by thinking about a fan in reverse—a fan uses electricity to create wind, right? Well, a wind turbine uses wind to create electricity. When the wind blows, that wind power has enough strength to turn the blades on large wind turbines. These blades are connected to a generator that then makes electricity as the blades spin. It’s an incredibly basic idea that generates a lot of renewable and sustainable energy.
Oil and Natural Gas
Oil and natural gas are both nonrenewable sources of energy, which means that as soon as we use them up, there’s no way of creating more. Additionally, while solar power and wind energy are newer forms of energy, the power of oil and natural gas has been exploited for hundreds of years. There have been some changes to the industry, though, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which have increased the usefulness of potential drilling areas that were once thought inaccessible. For example, the Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) is a region in Texas that, for many years, was thought to contain high amounts of oil and natural gas. However, the low permeability of the shale prevented oil and natural gas from being able to flow to an oil well. In 2008, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” changed this—by shooting sand and water into the shale at a high pressure, fracking creates a series of tiny fractures within the rock, allowing for the oil and natural gas to flow to the well. The amount of natural gas in Texas has tripled since 2008 as a result. Today, oil and natural gas continue to be the primary sources of energy for industrial, domestic, and agricultural use in the United States.
In addition to the types of energy listed above, nuclear energy and hydropower are also being developed in the United States. With the rate of technological advancement, it’s tough to say what kind of energy source will be powering the country in the next fifty years.