Electricity is one of the most prevalent forms of energy on Earth. The United States alone consumes an average of 3.6 million gigawatt-hours (GWh) every day, but where does that electricity come from?
The answers may surprise you—and raise some concerns as well. Our daily use of electricity accounts for over 62 percent of all energy produced in the country, but it’s not just coal and oil fueling our lives anymore—and they’re certainly not being put to best use either. Many are now saying there are cleaner, more efficient alternatives.
Here are the facts about U.S. electricity generation, according to the Department of Energy:
🔷 37.2 percent of electricity is generated by natural gas
🔷 33.8 percent comes from coal
🔷 19.6 percent comes from nuclear power
🔷 5.3 percent is produced by renewable forms, like solar and wind power
But if you ask people on either side of the argument what they think about coal-generated energy, you will get polarizing responses. Some tout its ability to create jobs, revenue and keep our homes warm during harsh winters; others decry it as harmful to human health and destructive for the environment during extraction and manufacturing.
So what if there was a way to make your energy use more efficient and less harmful?
” You can’t depend on one form of energy,” says Jim Neal, senior director of technology and customer programs at Schneider Electric . “You need to find a variety of different forms you can work with.”
Changing the way we generate electricity is good for everyone involved—from the utilities companies that bring us power, to their customers, all the way down to Mother Earth herself. And it’s possible not just for governments or big businesses but also homes and schools too.
today is causing catastrophic environmental destruction. Sustainability is about balancing the needs of today without compromising the ability of our grandchildren to meet their own needs.
While in theory renewable energy can be sustainable, in practice it will take centuries before renewables can replace fossil fuels. Most high-energy, high-technology civilizations like ours use nonrenewable resources (fossil fuels) to power their economies.
The Roman Empire fell when it ran out of good metal ores; we are unlikely to last much longer than them if we run out of fossil fuels.
“Renewables could never power modern civilization” is a persistent myth that invariably crops in comments on energy articles and recently got enshrined as myth #2 in Bjorn Lomborg’s article on the Seven Big Myths of Our Energy Future .
Lomborg claims renewables, “could never power modern civilization” because they are too low-density. But this claim is easily debunked by looking at the US grid today: 40% of its supply comes from hydroelectric dams which produce power densities up to 300 times higher than solar panels (see here ).
Fossil Fuels Are More Dense Than Many Renewables
“Renewable energy sources can’t produce enough energy” is another common misconception that fails simple sanity checks. For example, just look at the world around you and ask yourself how much wind or sunlight there is where you live?
How can we use electricity more efficiently? The way you generate and/or consume it is the biggest factor in your power bill, so start with these simple steps:
🔷 Turn off lights, computers, TVs and any other appliances not being used.
🔷 Unplug chargers (phone, laptop etc.) when not charging.
🔷 Buy energy-efficient appliances like LED light bulbs or low-wattage devices like the Nest learning thermostat. Having an energy-saving mentality will go a long way towards keeping both your wallet and Mother Earth happy.
Electricity generation affects our lives every day but isn’t necessarily the first thing on people’s minds when they turn on their lights or try to keep warm in the winter. In order to truly make a difference, we need not only know where our energy comes from but also be willing to change how we produce and consume it going forward.
Electricity is defined by its unexpected, stunning power. It lights up our world (literally and figuratively) like nothing else. The way it does this is both simple and complicated all at once; electricity is the flow of electrons through a conductor of some kind.
This could be inside the wires on your wall or down to the wire connecting your cell phone to the wall charger. But it also describes the tremendous energy of lightning during a storm, or even the power coursing through our own bodies when we are healthy and active.
By its nature, electricity can be hard to see, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ever have to look for it very hard either. Electricity is all around us in everything from batteries which power our flashlights and laptops, to solar panels which turn ultraviolet rays into usable energy.
Electricity can be made in different ways though too. Some electricity is created by kinetic energy via moving water in a dammed river or spinning windmills in a gusty meadow. Other forms include thermal (generated by changing water between liquid and gas via heat), nuclear (fission or fusion of elements) and mechanical (turbines).
Electricity is one of the most important inventions in human history, but what does it mean to you? Electric power is the flow of electrons through a conductor. This could be inside the wires on your wall or down to the wire connecting your cell phone to its charger. Electricity is everywhere around us, powering much of our day-to-day lives.
Fossil Fuels Are More Dense Than An Electric Car With A 200+ Mile Range Fossil fuels are so dense they power nearly every mode of transportation currently in use.
Electricity is the flow of energy through a conductor, but this can be tricky to understand in practice. Production and consumption are two sides of this same coin though.
Wherever there’s a power plant (like a hydroelectric dam) or a nuclear reactor generating electricity by changing kinetic energy into thermal energy, it must be consumed somewhere else.
This usually takes place via transmission lines that carry it across great distances up to 400kms before distribution , aka step 3 on our list above. In other words, many people think they produce their own power when they dig panels for their homes, but what happens afterwards relies on an immense infrastructure which actually does produce most of the world’s supply.
This is why you should care about electricity and its sources. By and large, we live our day-to-day lives within the confines of this system, so it’s important to understand how it works .
So the generation of electricity is important, but so are its many applications . Electricity can be used by itself or in combination with other forms of energy.
This makes it extremely versatile and allows for possibilities like electric cars, but also room heating depending on how you use it. There are loads of technologies that rely on electricity too including smartphones, computers, cell phones, scooters, dryers, washing machines, etc.
In the long term however, electricity could be used to replace fossil fuels in many applications since it’s a cleaner source of energy. It’s also far more efficient because it can be transmitted across long distances to reach its destination without any degradation in quality.
Electric Motor – It converts electrical energy into mechanical work and vice versa. They’re found in many applications like fans, pumps and industrial machinery.
In simple terms it’s a machine that converts electrical energy into kinetic or mechanical energy to perform a specified task.
In a more complicated explanation, the electric motor converts electrical power into motion. It does this because of electromagnetic induction.
When direct current powers an electromagnet coil wrapped around a piece of iron, the changing magnetic field induces an alternating current in any wire passing near it–so if you’ve got two coils and two wires passing by each other, you’ll have generated electricity through all those volts being induced from one coil to another–that keeps getting generated until something stops it.
Electric generator – It converts mechanical energy into electrical energy; it is really an electric motor running backwards.
An electric generator, also known as an Electromagnetic Generating Station (EMS), is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
The primary component of an electric generator is a magnetic coil. With alternating current, the power flow alternates 60 times per second from positive to negative and back again through each wire loop in the coil’s enamel insulation by flipping the direction of currents many times per second under powerful electromagnets called coil turns.
The orientation 60 time cycles per second has been designated as “alternating current” or “AC”.
The electromagnetic fields from repeated cycles of this process create 160 rotating magnetic fields with alternating north and south poles that pass through a wire coil around the magnetic core.
Electric Oven – This is a great example of how electricity can be used in combination with other forms of energy like heat. They work by sending an electric current through the wire coils and heating them up.
An Electric Oven is an oven that runs on electricity, which will heat up to around 500 degrees. It does this by turning the electricity coming in through the wall outlet into heat energy.
And while 500 Degrees might sound like a lot, it’s not so bad when you slice your slice of turkey and put it inside the oven for a few minutes- because that way, your pot roast is going to be brown rather than black or pink.
Isn’t cooking with an electric oven just great?
Now if you’re not sure about whether you want one, my recommendation would be to get a pizza stone for Christmas instead – they’re less expensive! But really try out one before making any decisions!
Electric Blanket – By turning direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), we generate a magnetic field which makes the molecules in our blanket move back and forth. This makes them generate heat which can be used to keep us warm.
An electric blanket is an amazing invention that really makes you warm and fuzzy. I mean, what other product can make the cold go away and bring on a feeling of warmth and security?
It’s great to just lay out on the couch with your girlfriend and watch Netflix. Turn it up all the way so you feel something, anything! Who cares about scalding your skin!
Remember: let the good times roll!
Electric Water Heater – Electricity is often used to heat water for homes and buildings. Hot water , in turn, is used to generate the steam which drives a turbine powering an electric generator.
An electric water heater is a device that stores heat energy generated by an electric current that heats water to serve it through showers, baths, flush toilets and other uses.
These are the components of an electrical water heater. A copper tubing inside the tank where it can be heated up with hot water or gas, a pump for continuous circulation around the tank, safety valves to make sure no fluid reaches too high temperatures, automatic control for safety operation at set point values.
The fluctuations in flow rates are measured by flow meters linked to motors controlling magnetic valves which open/close depending on flow rates.
Once all metal parts have reached their heating potential they are then cooled down by circulating cold outside air or running cool tap until they need another warm up cycle.
Electric Smoker – This machine works by using an electric heating element on the bottom of the device. This then vaporizes a type of liquid that’s used to generate smoke for cooking meats.
An electric smoker is a type of smoker which cooks food by circulating the heat from an external source, such as charcoal or gas with electric heating elements (electric smokers typically use propane as the fuel).
Electric smokers supply smoke and heat to the air that passes over and around food.
For an electric smoker to work it must be plugged into an electrical outlet and one end of a long cord needs to be placed in the heated area and then attached with a clamp on its other end to whatever handled tool you want.
The last step is ensuring there is wood chips or something else inside so that they will start burning throughout your meat cooking process. This machine produces delicious smoked flavors quickly.
Wood chips in Electric Smoker as a fuel
Wood chips, when burned by an electric smoker, produce smoke that is used to flavor the food being cooked.
The wood chips are placed in a pan above the heating element which feeds the flame below with the fuel needed to turn into heat energy. This then passes out of the vents on top of the cooker which will be transferred up through your meat depending on the type of smoker you have.
Electric Toothbrush – A rechargeable battery powers an electric motor which drives bristles at super high speeds so you can clean your teeth in seconds rather than minutes.
An electric or battery-powered toothbrush is a device with a rotating brush head that brushes the teeth and cleans the gums.
Electric toothbrushes come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors depending on the specific goals of an individual user as well as their budget.
Some advantages of electric toothbrushes are that they clean more surface area at once than manual brushing, prevent irritation caused by scrubbing too hard due to having a motorized brush head rather than just your hand action, help those who have dexterity problems or arthritis due to gripping power from both hands being needed for manual brushing.
Electric Guitar – An electric guitar is a stringed instrument that uses a magnetic field to convert the vibrations of its strings into electric currents. This allows it to produce a variety of sounds not found in traditional acoustic guitars which remain largely acoustical.
The electric guitar is an instrument that uses pickups to convert the vibration of an over driven metal object (e.g., strings) into electrical signals that are amplified to create sound.
The string vibrations are picked up by a mechanically linked-to-the-strings “bridge” or “tailpiece”, which converts them into either directly usable electricity, or electricity using electromagnetic induction via the magnetic field in proximity to it.
From there, it is fed through electromagnetic filters, amplifiers and other devices relying on rapidly changing electric currents via copper wires before being converted back again from tens of thousands of cycles per second back down to one cycle per second at a speaker cone attached for more usefully loud music production around an audience.
Electric Shaver – Most shavers are rechargeable but they all use an electric motor to spin the blades at high speeds.
Electric shavers work by cutting the hair just below its surface. A head of electric shaver has two metal combs on the top, and a set of rotating blades in between them. When you turn on an electric shaver, these blades rotate at a very high speed to cut the hairs they come across.
The comb’s ridges help capture hairs close to skin so that when these tips pass over their associated blade it increases your likelihood of getting a closer shave in that region.
Booster functions can improve this efficiency with devices like vacuum suction or water sprayers.
Most rotary single blade heads will rely on carbon steel blades, whereas linear heads tend to use ceramic-coated titanium in order to reduce friction.
Electric Fence – It’s made up of thin wires that are strung tightly together to form a network. The voltage is then adjusted so that anyone who touches the fence gets an electric shock. This keeps wild animals at bay while allowing your cows to graze safely in the field.
If an electric fence is used to deter animals from grazing on a property, the method of operation is fairly simple. A wire fence or net of wires is often erected about 3 meters high and strung along a length of at least 1000 m.
A continual low amperage voltage (2-3 volts) is applied to the wires which causes a momentary shock when touched by any animal.
Animals quickly learn not to touch the fence again because if they do, they’ll get another powerful electric shock that will be even more unpleasant than before.
Tests show that trees and bushes growing near an electric fence receive enough current from the ground current from the earthquake in their roots to grow withers [sic], but without shocks sufficient for humans to feel.
Electric vacuum pump – It’s used to produce a strong airflow (hoovering) by heating gas or turning it into liquid. The high pressure created at the output is used to drive hydraulic systems that perform work.
A vacuum pump acts by reducing tank pressure by creating a partial vacuum, and the pumped fluid is often used to maintain low-pressure environments for industrial processes.
A standard construction electric vacuum pump uses both an inlet and an outlet valve so that the density of the fluid remains unchanged.
The mechanical compression between these valves is dependent on their difference in atmospheric pressure; when powered, this force compresses air into one or more chambers depending on how long it runs.
The amount of “work” produced relies on the mass (m) and specific gravity (s) of gas such as air inside such pumps, which equals:
W= m*g*s*9.8 J/kg
This allows them to be used to drive moving parts such as hydraulic pistons that can then perform physical work.
Electric Solar Charger – This is a device that allows people living off the grid to cleanly charge their cell phones and other small electronics. It works by turning sunlight into electricity which can be used instead of fossil fuels like diesel or petrol.
The plug-in electric solar charger converts the energy from sunlight to electricity by making use of a special photovoltaic panel.
When it is connected to an electrical outlet, the electric solar charger can function as a backup power supply in emergencies, and also has a trickle charging mode for preserving the battery’s charge while not fully engaged.
Electric Stove – This is another example of how electricity can be used in conjunction with other forms of energy like heat. They work by sending an electric current through the heating element which gets hot enough to warm up your food.
Electric stoves are commonplace in homes. They have three components in common with gas powered stoves. The only electric stove parts that differ from gas powered stoves are the heating unit or element, breaker, and wire connections.
The “energy source” on an electric stove is the electric resistance wires that are embedded in the surface of the ceramic top.
The wires are linked to a “breaker” board under the hood which turns them on and off as needed by turning a knob located at one end of it (contacting two metal contacts).
When there is no contact between these points, insulation around the wire prevents its flow and heat up to it – like when you don’t touch a bare high voltage wire and your hand survives.
Electric Lawn Mower – These can be operated either by one person pushing it along the grass, or more commonly with a self-propelled version that uses rotating blades to mow your lawn.
Electric lawn mowers run off electricity and the “energy source” is dictated by what you connect them to. If connected directly into an AC power supply (either at home, on a generator, etc.) they use AC current (which alternates between positive and negative). But if they’re recharged from a battery, they’ll run on DC current which flows in only one direction.
When switching between these two types of outlets, users must remove fuses from the back of the electrical motor so as not to damage its components or start a fire.
Electric Bicycle – By attaching a small but powerful electric motor to a bike, it becomes possible to travel longer distances faster than regular bikes. This is due to the fact that they’re powered by electricity which has a higher power to weight ratio than petrol or diesel.
An Electric Bicycle is a bicycle that uses its motor to assist the rider. This extra power makes pedaling easier, providing an elegant solution for commuting or cycling uphill. It can be called electric bike, e-bike, battery-powered bike, motorized bike, pedalec or PAS (pedalec+electric system).
Electric bikes are propelled by electric motors over the rear wheel hub which turn the spokes. That means there’s no need for gears or chain drives! It feels just like riding a regular bicycle but with support so you’ll never have to walk again while riding up hill…but beware of your high speeds!
Electricity from fossil fuels, nuclear materials and renewable sources like solar or wind must be processed before we can use them. This process includes items that may not always come to mind when thinking about electricity generation, but they’re essential to its production nonetheless!
Some of these steps include:
Electricity is generated here by either burning fossil fuels, harnessing the power of water, or using nuclear materials to separate electrons from their parent atoms.
The second place where electricity levels are measured are at substations which are important especially for high voltage power lines. These allow large amounts of electricity to be transmitted efficiently over long distances.
After this, electricity is distributed to homes and businesses via local substations which reduces the amount of power lost during long-distance transmission. This is done using transformers at each location that reduce voltages from high to low levels for use by your equipment.
End use – Is the place where you finally get to sit back and enjoy your electricity!
Electricity and the natural world are inseparable because everything is made up of atoms which are in turn composed of particles. Those particles can be manipulated by magnets, electrical currents and such things as atomic force microscopes to create new technologies like some of those mentioned above!
Electricity and the Sky
But electricity isn’t restricted to Earth; it can cross space through outer space and clouds of gas too. It’s even thought that the Sun’s magnetic field is powered by huge electrical currents being released from its core! These currents are known as solar flares.
Now you know what electricity means in terms of human beings’ daily lives, let us take a look at some simple ecological facts about your regular natural phenomena associated with this topic which you’ll likely come across in textbooks… But don’t worry because we won’t go into much detail!
FACT 1) Lightning – It happens when strong electric fields build up vertically in clouds because water droplets freeze onto ice crystals to create an object called a “graupel”.
The strong electric fields separate positive and negative charges in the cloud, allowing a giant discharge known as lightning to occur when two opposite charges meet.
FACT 2) Electric Eels – They have specialized cells called electrocytes which contain a large number of infinitesimally small compartments separated from each other by membranes.
When triggered, these compartments release positively charged sodium atoms outside the cell which flow through channels between the compartments and cause them to shrink very rapidly (i.e., they’re shrunken by osmosis). This sends an electrical charge across their skin that stuns or kills prey.
FACT 3) Volcano Electricity – These volcanoes give off a form of lightning called “sprites” which were only known about since the late 1980s. They are huge red glows that show up at an altitude between 30 and 50 kilometers above thunderstorm clouds!
It’s thought they’re triggered by fast-moving positive ions being accelerated towards Earth, but it would take more research to know for sure. Since their discovery, sprites have been photographed with ordinary cameras which means you can watch them develop through time-lapse photography if your cameras are positioned correctly during an eruption!
Electricity is certainly required for that, but what else do you need to know about it? Sure you can turn off your lights when they’re not being used or install solar panels at home, but what is the big picture like and why does it even matter?
Don’t worry because we’ll answer all those questions here! Let’s start with an analogy of how people think about this topic today…
People always want clean water flowing from their taps and electricity lighting up their homes; however there are no convenient sources of either without getting rid of waste which usually goes into the environment.
This creates a “perfect storm” scenario where everyone wants something very valuable (water and electricity) without doing anything to contribute to the upkeep of the environment and its natural resources and cycle (e.g., waste, CO2).
As a result, people are coming up with new ways to maintain the perfect storm scenario such as by using renewable energy sources like wind turbines and power plants that produce solar electricity.
These developments mean that less harmful greenhouse gases go into the atmosphere too! We can see how it’s possible to live sustainably through constant dialogue between technology and ecology… And we can’t ignore how important sustainable living is for our lives – If we don’t do anything about it now then future generations will have no water or electricity!
Physiological effects global warming include the melting of glaciers, rising sea levels due to thermal expansion of seawater, changes in weather patterns that can cause floods and drought, increased frequency or intensity of heat waves, increased frequency or intensity of extreme high tides…
The most significant human health effect is malnutrition, specifically vitamin deficiency. There are some other diseases too – For example Dengue fever which is spread by mosquitoes whose habitats expand because warmer climates allow them to survive further North than they normally would!
It’s easy for people to continue using electricity when they know about this topic but it’s also important to show everyone how much effort you’re putting into becoming more sustainable both in your home and community!
You might not think about these things when you’re turning off the lights or using energy-efficient appliances, but it definitely counts when you can point out to someone “Hey look at what I’ve done!”
This is exactly what the people behind this website plan on achieving – Making sure everyone becomes more sustainable because if PEOPLE aren’t SUSTAINABLE then how WILL they survive?!?
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