Conventional and Non-Conventional Sources of Energy
What are some of the conventional and non-conventional sources of energy?
Energy is vital for our daily lives. It powers transportation, communication, manufacturing, construction, heating, cooling, lighting, etc. In short, it’s everywhere. The amount of energy consumed worldwide has increased dramatically over time.
Today, fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) are still the main source of energy. They are considered “conventional” because they are widely accessible and relatively cheap.
Conventional sources of energy include fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. These are considered primary or base energy sources because they are created by nature. They are also called renewable sources of energy because they are replenished naturally when burned.
Non-conventional sources of energy include solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, nuclear power, ocean energy, tidal power, and biomass (biogas). These are usually called secondary or supplemental energy sources because they are generated using manmade methods. They are also called intermittent sources of energy because their production depends on weather patterns, sunshine, and other environmental conditions. Unlike conventional energy sources, these types of energy cannot be stored easily.
Introduction to Energy
Energy is the capacity to do work, generate heat, and emit light. It is measured as the total amount of work that the body can do. Energy is measured in units of caloric and joule. A kilo-calorie is the amount of energy or heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water from 14.5°C to 15.5°C. The joule is defined as the amount of energy exerted when a force of one newton is applied over a displacement of one meter.
Energy is a basic concept in all science and engineering disciplines. A very important principle is that energy is a conserved quantity, I.e., the total amount of energy in the universe is constant. As per the law of conservation of energy, “energy cannot be newly created.”
Energy cannot be destroyed. In a closed system, the total mass and energy remain unchanged. In a closed system, energy is conserved. Energy is neither created nor destroyed but converted or redistributed from one form to another such as from the wind energy into electrical energy or from chemical energy into heat, etc.
Classification of energy sources
(a) Based on the nature of the availability of energy:
On the basis of the nature of availability of energy sources, energy can be classified as follows:
(I) Primary resources
Primary energy sources can be defined as sources that are either found or stored in nature. These energy sources provide a net supply of energy. Examples: coal, natural gas, oil, biomass, solar, tidal, hydro, and nuclear energy.
(ii) Secondary resources
Secondary sources of energy are derived from primary energy sources. Producing electrical energy from coal and hydrogen from the hydrolysis of water are examples of this type of energy.
(b) Based on the utilization of energy:
On the basis of the utilization of energy, energy can be classified as follows:
(I) Direct source of energy
The direct sources of energy are obtained directly from resources such as human labor, bullocks, and stationary and mobile mechanical or electric power units such as diesel engines, electric motors, power tillers, and tractors.
(ii) Indirect sources of energy
The indirect sources of energy do not release energy directly but release it through a conversion process. Some energy is invested in producing indirect sources of energy, Seeds, manures (farmyard and poultry), chemicals, fertilizers, and machinery can be classified under indirect sources of energy. Again, on the basis of their replenishment, they can be further classified into renewable and non-renewable indirect sources of energy.
(iii) Supplementary sources of energy
Supplementary sources are defined as energy sources whose net energy yield is zero. Those energy sources requiring the highest investment in terms of energy insulation (thermal) are an example of this source.
(c) Based on traditional use:
On the basis of the traditional use of energy sources, energy can be classified as follows:
(I) Conventional energy
A conventional energy source can be defined as a source that is wed traditionally and provides a net supply of energy. Examples: Thermal energy and hydropower energy,
(ii) New or Non-conventional energy
New or non-conventional energy sources are developed in the recent past and produce no net energy. Though it may be necessary for the economy, it may not yield net energy. Examples of non-conventional energy sources are solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, and biomass energy.
(d) Based on long-term availability:
On the basis of the long-term availability of energy sources, energy can be classified as follows:
(I) Non-renewable energy sources
These are the energy sources that are derived from finite and static stocks of energy. Coal, oil, fossil fuels, and nuclear fuels are examples of conventional sources of energy. It cannot be produced, grown, generated, or used on a scale that can sustain its consumption rate. These resources often exist in a fixed amount and are consumed much faster than nature can create them. The supply of these fuels is limited. It becomes very essential to use these fuels sparingly.
(ii) Renewable energy sources
In this category, the energy sources that are direct in nature but can be subsequently replenished are grouped. The energies which may fall into this group are solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, biomass energy, etc.
(e) Based on origin:
On the basis of the origin of the energy source, energy can be classified as follows:
(I) Fossil fuel energy –
Energy is obtained from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, etc.
(ii) Nuclear energy –
Energy is obtained from nuclear fuels such as Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium, etc.
(iii) Hydro energy –
Energy is obtained from water.
(iv) Solar energy –
Energy is obtained from solar radiation.
(v) Wind energy –
Energy is obtained from natural wind force.
(vi) Tidal energy –
Energy is obtained from tides and waves.
(vii) Biomass energy –
Energy is obtained from biomass fuels such as cow dung, vegetable waste, etc.
(viii) Geothermal energy –
Energy is obtained from natural temperature variation of the present in the various depth of the earth.