New Frontiers

Aspects of Energy

Energy All Around

Think First

The Big Three

Outdoor Safety

More Safety Tips

Science & History



Human Body

Earth Science


Power Generation


General Science


Alternate Sources

Language and More

Working With Words

Creative Writing


Alternate Energy Sources

How is Electricity Generated Now?

There are currently three main ways that we generate electricity:

Fossil Fuels--Power plants burn fossil fuels to create electricity.

Nuclear Power--Atoms are split, which heats water to create steam that turns a turbine to create electricity.

Hydroelectric Power--Water runs through a dam and turns a turbine to generate electricity.

In addition to these sources, many new sources for generating electricity are emerging.

Renewable vs. Non-Renewable

In addition to fossil fuel, nuclear and water power, there are other ways to produce electricity. Researchers are taking a closer look at many of these other methods as they search for ways to make electricity that create less pollution and come from renewable resources.

Renewable resources are things that we can't use up, such as sunlight and wind. Non-renewable sources are things such as coal and oil that have limited amounts.

Solar Energy

Solar power is power from the sun. Common uses of solar power include calculators, road signs with blinking lights and sometimes outdoor lights that are not close enough to a power outlet on a building. These are small uses, but it is possible to power an entire house using solar energy!

To create power from the sun, solar cells convert sunlight into small amounts of electricity. When many solar cells are used together on a solar panel, usable amounts of electricity is generated.

Solar energy is a good energy source because it is a renewable resource. As long as the sun is shining, solar electricity can be produced.

But what about nighttime when the sun isn't shining or cloudy days when the sun isn't out? During these times, there isn't enough sunlight to generate electricity. Houses can save up for a rainy day by storing solar energy in a battery.

Most houses that are powered by solar energy also have other power sources, such as the local utility, as a back-up. On days when the solar panels don't collect enough electricity to power the house, electricity is drawn from the battery or back-up system.

In addition to solar energy, there are several other alternate energy sources.

Rows of solar panels collect sunlight to convert to electricity.

Solar panels on the front of this house collect sunlight to convert to electricity for the house's power needs.








Copyright 2011