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Conventional and non-Conventional Sources of Energy

Energy, in general, is defined as the source of power required by an object to perform a specific task. In the case of basic day to day activities, an energy source is essential for the basic functioning of modern society. Depending on the type of source it is derived from, energy can be defined into two types as conventional energy and non-conventional energy.

Conventional Sources of Energy

Conventional sources of energy are those energies that have been predominantly in use for the better part of civilization. They are non-renewable in nature, meaning that once a sample of conventional energy source is used up, it cannot be used again. The most extensive kind of conventional energy source is fossil fuels. As the name suggests, fossil fuels are formed from the buried bodies of organisms by the natural phenomenon of anaerobic decomposition over thousands of years. Commonly used energy sources like petroleum, coal, natural gas and their derivatives such as kerosene, propane etc., are all examples of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon because they are derived from carbon-based organisms. The extensive consumption of fossil fuels is problematic for two reasons: The amount of pollution caused by fossil fuels is very hazardous to the health of the environment, and because fossil fuels are not consumed at a sustainable rate so they cannot be replaced as fast as they are getting used up.

  • Coal: Coal is an ignitable sedimentary rock formed from the dead decays of vegetation. Coal is primarily composed of carbon with traces of other elements such as hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. The extensive usage of coal started with the arrival of the industrial revolution in the 18th century.
  • Petroleum: Otherwise known as crude oil, petroleum is a naturally occurring fuel source that is refined into different types of petroleum-based fuels after extraction. The method of fractional distillation is used to separate the different components of petroleum. Formed as a result of high pressure and strong temperatures on the dead and decaying matter of organisms like zooplankton and algae and extracted from under layers of sedimentary rock, petroleum is also an extensively used fossil fuel. Petrol, propane, kerosene, tar etc., are all derived from petroleum.
  • Natural gas: Natural gas is a hydrocarbon gas that contains methane and small traces of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and helium. Natural gas in itself is a greenhouse gas that severely affects the environment once released into it. The end products obtained after burning natural gas like carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide are even more hazardous.

Non- Conventional Sources of Energy

Non-conventional sources of energy are the up and coming energy sources that are much more sustainable than conventional sources of energy as their impact on the environment is significantly less hazardous. They are renewable sources of energy because, unlike non-renewable sources, they do not get depleted when used. With more awareness spreading worldwide about the adverse effects fossil fuels have on the planet, non-conventional sources of energy are being adopted at a fast rate.

  • Hydropower: The natural or artificial flow of water, even at a small rate, can be used to generate electricity. Though there are many types of hydropower, the most popular type and developed is hydroelectric dams and reservoirs. Hydroelectric dams are built atop rivers that have a decent flow of water. The natural flow of the river is then used to drive turbines that are connected to generators. When the turbines are rotated, electricity is produced by the generator, which is stored and then later transported for consumption.
  • Wind power: Windmills, also known as wind turbines, are placed in locations where there is a strong and constant flow of wind. The locations where many wind turbines are placed for the generation of electricity are called wind farms. The wind turbines have large blades connected to a generator. When there is a fast flow of wind, these blades are rotated, which is then converted to electricity. The electricity that the wind turbine can produce is directly proportional to the cube of the wind speed.
  • Solar power: Solar energy is one of the cleanest sources of energy, which is it has the most scope amongst other renewable energy sources. Solar panels that are made of semiconductive materials known as photovoltaic cells are capable of converting light to electricity. A number of panels are placed in the most optimum position so that sunlight falls on them constantly during the day. Solar panels are now being used in some households as a primary source of electricity and commercially in solar farms, which contain hundreds and thousands of solar panels.

This topic is extensively talked about in NCERT Solutions Class 10 Science Chapter 14 Sources of Energy.





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