4.1 Non-renewable and renewable energy sources 103-108 of...4.1 Non-renewable and renewable energy...

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Transcript of 4.1 Non-renewable and renewable energy sources 103-108 of...4.1 Non-renewable and renewable energy...

  • Chapter 4 Using Energy in Our Lives 103 Edvantage Interactive, 2010 978-0-9864778-0-5

    4.1 Non-renewable and renewable energy sources

    We rely on non-renewable energy sources to meet most of our energy needs in our homes, businesses, and schools. For this reason, they are known as conventional sources or traditional sources of energy. Non-renewable energy sources cannot be made or renewed.

    Someday, we will use up non-renewable energy sources. Because of this and because non-renewable energy harms the environment, more and more we are using renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources can be easily made or renewed. They are alternative sources because they are not based on burning fossil fuels or splitting atoms.

    Non-renewable energy sources


    Coal is the most plentiful fossil fuel found on Earth. In Canada, coal is mostly found in the western provinces. About 20% of Canadas electricity is fuelled by coal.

    Coal is removed from the ground using either surface mining or underground mining. Coal buried less than 70 m underground is surface mined by removing topsoil and layers of rock to expose the large beds of coal. Underground mining removes coal buried deep underground.

    Once the coal is separated from rocks, dirt, and other unwanted materials, it is transported to electric utility companies and other industries. Power plants burn coal to make high-pressure steam. The force of the steam is then used to turn the rotating blades on engines called turbines. The mechanical energy of the spinning blades is then converted into electricity by devices called generators (see Figure 4.1).




    CondenserCondenser cooling waterRiver






    Figure 4.1 Coal-fi red power plants burn coal to make steam, which is used to turn turbines to make electricity.

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  • Unit B Energy Conservation in the Workplace104 Edvantage Interactive, 2010 978-0-9864778-0-5

    Check Your Understanding

    1. Defi ne a non-renewable energy source and give an example.

    2. Describe two methods of extracting coal from the ground.

    Crude oil and natural gas

    Crude oil comes out of the ground as a yellowish black liquid. Natural gas is normally a colourless, odorless gas. Crude oil and natural gas are fossil fuels that are drilled from underground areas called reservoirs or traps found either on land or offshore deep under the sea fl oor.

    After they are removed from the ground, crude oil and natural gas are transported to refi neries. Crude oil and natural gas are made up of many different hydrocarbon molecules. A refi nery is an industrial plant that heats oil and gas to sort, split, and reassemble the molecules so they can be made into different products. For example, crude oil can be made into diesel fuel, jet fuel, and gasoline (see Figure 4.2). Processed natural gas mostly consists of methane, but fuels such as butane and propane are also made from natural gas. Natural gas is an energy source for electricity, steam heat production, industry, and domestic uses like furnace fuel.


    Diesel fuel

    Jet fuelRefining processLight fuel oil

    Other products

    Heavy fuel oil

    Figure 4.2 Many different products are made from crude oil. However, the majority of crude oil is made into gasoline.

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  • Chapter 4 Using Energy in Our Lives 105 Edvantage Interactive, 2010 978-0-9864778-0-5

    Nuclear power

    Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus or central core of an atom. It can be released through nuclear fusion or nuclear fi ssion. Energy is released during nuclear fusion when the nuclei of atoms join together to form larger single atoms. Energy is released during nuclear fi ssion when an atoms nucleus breaks apart to produce smaller nuclei and subatomic particles, or particles that are smaller than atoms. Nuclear power plants use nuclear fi ssion to make electricity.

    Nuclear power plants primarily use uranium-235 (U-235) as fuel to make energy through fi ssion. This is because the atoms in U-235 are easy to split apart. Uranium is a common metal that is found in most rocks. However, it is non-renewable, and U-235 is quite rare. It makes up only about 0.7% of the naturally occurring uranium on Earth.

    Nuclear power plants make electricity much like other power plants that burn coal or natural gas (see Figure 4.3). In nuclear power plants, reactors control the chain reaction that makes electricity. Nuclear reactors are the structures in which nuclear fi ssion occurs.

    Electric powerto grid




    Cooling water fromlake/ocean/river








    Figure 4.3 This diagram shows how nuclear power plants make electricity.

    Check Your Understanding

    1. Name three products produced from crude oil.

    2. What is the fuel used in a nuclear power plant?

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  • Unit B Energy Conservation in the Workplace106 Edvantage Interactive, 2010 978-0-9864778-0-5

    Renewable energy sources

    Hydroelectric power

    Hydroelectricity is electricity that is generated from falling or fl owing water. Hydroelectric power plants or hydropower plants use turbines like coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants. But they use the force of moving water to turn the turbines that drive generators to produce electricity. The best places to build these plants are along fast-moving rivers or streams, in mountainous areas, or in areas with consistent rainfall. Canadas geography is well suited for hydropower. As a result, it is the source for most of the electricity used by Canadians.

    Most hydropower plants use either the natural drop of a river, such as a waterfall, or a dam built across a river to create a driving force of water. Two things determine the amount of electricity produced: the amount of water moving through the turbines (water fl ow) and the height from which the water falls from the upper reservoir in the dam or from the waterfall. The more fl ow, the more electricity can be generated.

    Solar power

    Solar power is power generated by harnessing the energy of the suns rays. It can be used to heat houses and water, and generate electricity.

    Solar power is generated through several different methods:

    Photovoltaic (PV) cells (photo = light; voltaic = electricity) are grouped together in panels. They are made out of semi-conductive materials, such as silicon and glass. When light strikes the cells, an electric current is produced.

    Active solar technology uses collectors, such as mirrors and metal plates, to capture solar energy to heat air or water. Active solar energy is often used for space heating or water heating.

    Passive solar technology uses basic building materials like windows and insulation to control the amount of solar energy that is absorbed or lost in a building.

    Concentrating solar technology uses mirrors arranged in towers, troughs, or dishes to concentrate solar energy to drive generators or engines to generate electricity (see Figure 4.4).

    Wind power

    Wind power uses the kinetic energy or the energy of motion in moving air. It is mainly used to generate electricity or as mechanical power to grind grain or pump water.

    Turbines are used to capture the power of the wind. Large turbines are often grouped together in wind farms that provide power to an electrical grid that services homes and businesses. Wind turns the turbines blades, which spin a shaft that connects to an electric generator that makes electricity. Wind turbines come in different sizes but can be grouped into two types (see Figure 4.5):

    Horizontal-axis turbines look like windmills that can stand 20 storeys tall, with three blades that can measure longer than a football fi eld. Most of the wind turbines used today are of this type.

    Figure 4.4 A solar dish is a concentrating solar energy system.

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  • Chapter 4 Using Energy in Our Lives 107 Edvantage Interactive, 2010 978-0-9864778-0-5

    Vertical-axis turbines have two blades that go from top to bottom. They look like large egg beaters.

    Figure 4.5 Horizontal-axis wind turbines look like windmills (left). Vertical-axis wind turbines look like egg beaters (right).

    Tidal power

    A tide is the alternate rising and falling of the ocean on a shore or coastline caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and the rotation of Earth. Tides can also be used to generate electricity.

    The Annapolis Tidal Power Plant in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, is one of only three tidal power plants in the world. A common form of tidal power involves building a large dam called a barrage across a river or outcropping of land. The barrage funnels water into a generating plant and through a large turbine as it fl ows in and out with the tide.

    Instead of barrages, tidal turbines can also be used to generate electricity. Tidal turbines take advantage of natural tidal fl ows. They can be anchored to the ocean fl oor or fl oated offshore. Nova Scotia is also experimenting with this new form of tidal technology (see Figure 4.6).

    Geothermal power

    Geothermal energy is heat that is generated within Earths core. Temperatures hotter than the suns surface are