Conventional sources of energy are those sources that have been used for many decades and were in common use around the time of the oil crisis in 1973. For example, fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, and hydro power. These sources of energy (except hydro power) are present in a limited amount on the earth and cannot renew themselves. Fossil fuels and nuclear material are non-renewable sources of energy whereas hydro energy is a renewable source of energy.
Also Read: Non-conventional sources of energy
Conventional sources of energy examples
- Fossil fuels
- Nuclear material
- Hydro power
Fossil fuels are fossilized remains of ancient plants and animals that were once alive on earth. These types of fuels include coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels are mostly formed from dead plant and animal remains that were buried in sedimentary rock layers millions of years ago. Conventional sources of energy have been used for a long time. They are cheap, efficient, and reliable. Conventional energy sources include:
Coal is formed from layers of organic matter (biogenic deposits) that have been buried under layers of sedimentary rock over thousands or millions of years, usually during periods when there was a lot more oxygen in the atmosphere than today.
Oil is formed by organic material that has been buried under layers of sedimentary rock for millions or even tens of millions of years during times when there was a lot more oxygen in the atmosphere than today.
Natural gas is formed by decaying organic material that has been buried under a sedimentary rock for tens to hundreds of millions of years during times when there was less oxygen in the atmosphere than today.
Fossil fuels provide an important source of energy for the world’s economy and society. They also produce a large amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs). These GHGs contribute to climate change and global warming.
Nuclear energy is the energy released when a nucleus of an atom undergoes nuclear fission, or when it breaks apart into two or more nuclei, releasing kinetic energy and particulate matter.
Nuclear fission is the process by which heavy atomic nuclei split into fragments that contain roughly equal numbers of neutrons and protons. These fragments are known as isotopes; the number of different isotopes present varies from one element to another, but all isotopes are unstable. When a large amount of mass is broken down into smaller components, some of those components can decay into other elements. This radioactive decay causes heat and light (as in the case of alpha decay), but does not consume any chemical elements itself.
Because nuclear reactions release large amounts of energy, they are important in many processes including electric power generation, material processing (particularly nuclear reprocessing), and propulsion.
Nuclear reactors can be used as a source of heat for industrial processes, as well as electricity generation. Nuclear power plants are used for electrical generation in most countries.
Nuclear power plants also produce radioactive waste products that need to be disposed of safely after they have been used up in the reactor vessel.
Hydro power is the oldest form of renewable energy. Hydro power is a renewable resource that uses the movement of water to convert direct mechanical energy into useful electricity. Hydroelectricity can be generated from a wide range of sources, including rivers, dams, waves, and tides.
The plants used to generate hydroelectricity are called hydroelectric power plants. There are several different types of hydroelectric plants. Some use gravity to produce electricity; others use pressure generated by falling water to generate electricity, and some use both forces to generate electricity.
Hydroelectric power plants have been used for almost 100 years to generate electricity in the United States and around the world. In the United States, about 25 percent of all power comes from hydropower facilities.
Advantages of conventional sources of energy
1. Conventional sources of energy are cheap, abundant, and provide a reliable source of power. They are also convenient and easy to transport.
2. Because storage is convenient and easy, certain quantities can be stored to ensure the availability of energy for a specific period.
3. They can be used anywhere in the world and they have been used for hundreds of years. They do not require complex technology to use them.
4. Fossil fuels have made it possible to bring electricity to rural areas that were once too far away from electrical grids for any practical purpose.
5. It is very convenient to use these sources since technology is readily available for their conversion and use.
Disadvantages of conventional sources of energy
1. The biggest disadvantage of conventional sources of energy is that they are finite resources that run out eventually.
2. The combustion of fossil fuels results in pollution. Degrading the environment and posing health risks are some of the consequences of pollution. Carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for global warming.
3. Nuclear plants and hydro plants are very expensive to develop and build. It costs billions of dollars to build a single nuclear power plant, and the cost of operating a reactor goes up as the reactors age.
4. There is also a high accident rate with nuclear plants, which can be disastrous for people living near them.
5. The cost of oil and coal is rising steadily, so more fuel will be needed to meet the demand for electricity in the future.
6. As a fossil fuel, coal is also a valuable resource that is used in a variety of industries such as chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and paint manufacturing. It is desirable to conserve coal in the long term for future needs.