Conventional sources of energy are non-renewable sources of energy. They are cheap, reliable, and easily available. However, these sources of energy release toxic by-products in nature and cause severe harm to the environment. Also, these sources exist only in a finite amount in nature and usually follow a time-consuming process of regeneration. Over 90% of the world’s energy is contributed by conventional sources of energy. Coal, petroleum, natural gas, etc. are some of the prominent examples of conventional sources of energy.
Coal is a combustible sedimentary rock, which is formed when organic matter and dead plants are subjected to high temperature and pressure. The process of making coal is very time-consuming, but it allows us to access a reliable and easily available conventional source of energy. It is abundantly available and can be extracted either by surface mining or by underground mining. Coal is one of the cheapest sources of energy generation. Coal finds its major application in heating houses, industries, and thermal plants.
Petroleum is a fossil fuel that is formed as a result of the decomposition of organic matter. These decomposed remains of living organisms when kept under intense heat and pressure for over millions of years, get converted to carbon-rich fuel. Petroleum is a mixture of hydrocarbons and cycloalkanes. It is also referred to as crude oil. Petroleum is extracted from the oil reservoirs located beneath land or under oceans with the help of huge drilling machines. Most vehicles being used in modern times rely on this conventional source of energy generation. Petroleum is available in a limited amount, and its formation requires millions of years. Research shows that petroleum shall be available only for a few more decades.
3. Woodfuel/Fuel Wood
Fuelwood is one of the most popular sources of energy for people living in rural areas. They make use of woods for daily life chores such as cooking, heating water, etc. However, the demerit of using wood as a fuel is that it leads to deforestation, which is severely harmful to the environment. It is unwise to cut trees to meet the energy requirements because a number of eco-friendly alternatives are available. For example, biomass, CNG, etc.
4. Natural Gas
Natural gas is mostly used in households for cooking and heating purposes. The process used to extract natural gas is similar to that of petroleum. Decomposed living matter kept under high temperature and pressure for a long time produces natural gas as a by-product. Natural gas is highly flammable and catches fire with even the slightest exposure to fire. Natural gas is odorless, but a pungent smell (ethyl mercaptan) is added to it so that an alarm can be raised in case of a gas leak.
5. Thermal Energy
Thermal energy or heat energy is the energy generated by virtue of the temperature of the heated substance. It is mostly used in thermal power plants, manufacturing industries, etc. A thermal power plant makes use of heat and steam to generate electricity. Firstly, the fuel is burnt in a huge chamber. This burnt fuel releases sufficient heat that is responsible to generate steam. This steam is thrown over the blades of a turbine with pressure causing them to rotate. The mechanical energy possessed by the moving turbines is then utilized to generate electricity with the help of electromagnetic induction.
6. Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest modes of energy generation. It makes use of a process called nuclear fission, which involves the splitting of an atom into multiple parts. This splitting of atoms releases a huge amount of energy, which can be used to generate electricity. The advantage of using nuclear energy is its eco-friendly nature and reliability. The disadvantage is the radioactive nature of the element being used as a raw material. This radioactive nature of nuclear fuel causes many problems such as cancerous diseases, health hazards, and various environmental tragedies. Chernobyl, 3-mile island, 1945-Hiroshima atomic bomb attack, etc. are some of the environmental catastrophes caused because of nuclear energy.