Energy Resources: Definition & Uses

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  • 0:01 What Are Energy Resources?
  • 0:24 Fossil Fuels
  • 1:11 Alternative Energy Sources
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

After completing this lesson, you should be able to explain what energy resources are and give examples of the energy resources an area might possess. A short quiz will follow.

What Are Energy Resources?

Energy resources are the opportunities an area offers to generate electricity based on its natural conditions and circumstances. Some of these energy resources are obvious; an area might contain coal, oil, wood, or gas. But others, like renewable resources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and wave power are not so obvious— they're based on the natural weather patterns and features of an area.

Fossil Fuels

When electricity was first generated, it was done by burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are natural fuels formed from the remains of once-living organisms, compressed at high temperature and pressure over millions of years. Examples include coal, which is made from dead plant matter, and oil and gas, which are made from dead marine animals. These fossil fuels have a lot of energy contained within them, which is released when the fuel is burned.

When fossil fuels are burned in a power plant, the heat released boils water, producing steam. That steam drives a turbine to spin inside a large magnetic field, and this produces electricity. The main problem with doing this is that it creates a lot of pollution, including greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which are causing the earth's climate to warm. Ideally, we would want to find other ways to generate energy.

Alternative Energy Sources

We do have alternatives: renewable resources, like wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and tidal power. These are resources that don't require using anything up (like with coal, oil, or gas). It might seem strange that we call these resources. After all, they're not something an area has in the ground that we can use up, the way fossil fuels can be. But, they're considered resources because they're still specific to an area.

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Additional Activities

Energy Resources Writing Prompts

Prompt 1

Scientists blame the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal and oil in providing electricity, as the primary contributor to global warming. With these activities, carbon dioxide and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere, which causes heat to be trapped within the Earth. Discuss whether the regulation of the burning of coal, such as having scheduled and rotational brownouts, is significant in solving the continuing problem of global warming.

Prompt 2

Nowadays, countries have adapted to harnessing renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. What are the pros and cons in using renewable energy sources when compared to fossil fuels in terms of electrical efficiency and cost?

Prompt 3

Identify which renewable energy is the most appropriate and relevant in the place where you reside. Discuss why this is the best choice given your geographic location.

Prompt 4

A significant portion of the world lacks access to electricity. Imagine yourself as the head of a national energy commission. Design a long-term strategy to provide affordable and reliable energy service to all members of a country, including the poorest.

Prompt 5

Summarize what you have learned about renewable and non-renewable energy sources. What are the material reasons for why you would support one over the other?

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