Energy

Articles on energy from fossil fuels (coal, oil & gas, tar sands) & nuclear power, as well as renewables like solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass & biofuels. Plus environmental effects of tailings ponds, gas seepage, oil spills & fracking.

Three Gorges Dam, Largest hydropower station in the world.

Hydropower: Renewable Hydroelectricity

Hydropower is an established source of renewable energy which provides almost one-fifth of the world’s electricity. We outline the main types of hydro technologies including dams, run-of-river and pumped storage. Read about the contribution of hydroelectricity to a sustainable energy system, as well as the challenges it faces, including its life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and the ecological problems it causes for the environment.

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Seagen Tidal Stream Generator

Tidal Power: Renewable Ocean Energy

Tidal power is a type of renewable energy which can be harvested from the ebb and flow of tides. We outline the main types of tidal technologies which are being developed to generate electricity, including barrages, lagoons and tidal streams. Read about the challenges of tidal energy, including high costs and environmental impacts, as well as its future prospects.

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Floating wave farm in India

Wave Power: Renewable Marine Energy

Wave power is a type of renewable energy which can be harvested from the ocean. We outline the main types of marine technologies which are still in their infancy, including floating buoys. Read about the challenges and future prospects of sustainable oceanic wave power and how it could help remote islands become more environmentally friendly.

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Photo of thawing permafrost

Peat: The Youngest Fossil Fuel

What is peat? How does it form? How does it compare as an energy source? What is its calorific value or heat content? What types of peat are used as fuel? What greenhouse gas emissions does it release when harvested and when burned? Where are peatlands and mires located? How does peat affect global warming? How are frozen peatlands affected by climate change? We explain the answers to these and lots more questions.

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rafla geothermal power station Iceland

Geothermal Energy Explained

Geothermal energy is a renewable and sustainable energy source that is still largely untapped. Read about the different types of geothermal plants and which countries are installing the most capacity. Also, why progress has stalled, including the risk of earthquakes associated with the most promising developments in geothermal engineering.

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Crowded Onshore Wind Park in California

Wind Power: Renewable Energy

Wind power is one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy. We outline the main types of wind farms – onshore and offshore, as well as floating parks. Read about the benefits and future prospects of wind energy and how it can help us tackle climate change. Switching is not without drawbacks – we cover wind capacity, battery storage and environmental concerns.

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Solar power park in Pakinstan

Solar Power: Renewable Energy

We explain the basics of solar energy including the two key types of production plants. Read about the benefits for both climate change and air quality. Switching from dirty fossil fuels to sustainable renewables like solar power, is an essential strategy if we are to limit global warming and clean up the widespread air pollution in cities around the globe.

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Wind Power Project, Fujian, China

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy is clean or sustainable energy which comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished. Unlike fossil fuels, renewables typically emit very small amounts of CO2 and no toxic pollution. They are therefore much better for human health and the environment, including the oceans and the atmosphere.

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Lignite Coal Mine in Poland

Coal: Facts & Figures

Historically the most important and widespread fossil fuel, now seen as an environmental disaster, coal comes in different grades and is mined using several different methods. We explain its history, benefits, effects on climate change and ecological impacts.

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Coal Mining South Kalimantan Indonesia

Fossil Fuels: The Facts

We explain the benefits of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, as well as their damaging effects on climate change and the environment. We look at how we replace them with renewable energy sources and the difficulties involved.

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Natural Gas Pipelines: Siberia To China

Natural Gas: Facts & Figures

Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel, used for mainly heating and the generation of electricity. Supposedly a cleaner fuel, its leakage rates from pipelines and other infrastructure may soon negate this advantage. We provide a full explanation.

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Fracking Industrial Site Colorado

What Is Fracking?

Fracking is a fairly recent technology used by the natural gas and petroleum industry to maximize extraction. The process has helped make the United States the world’s leading fossil fuel producer. However, as fracking’s environmental fingerprint grows, so do environmental concerns. We explain the fracking process and the risks.

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Wood pellet storage facility

Biomass: Biofuel & Bioenergy

What is biomass? What does it contain? How is it converted into a usable energy source? What are the main types? How much of it are we using? How Green is it? Is it carbon neutral? We explain the answers to these questions and more.

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Information & Facts about Energy

• China mines around 45 percent of the world’s coal every year, making it by far the largest coal producer.

• The coal miners' lung disease, pneumoconiosis, caused 260,000 deaths around the world in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent on 1990. In the United States, where pneumoconiosis has accounted for 76,000 deaths since 1968, more than 45 billion dollars have been spent in federal compensation for miners and their dependents.

• Burning peat to produce electricity releases more carbon dioxide emissions than coal, and almost twice as much as natural gas.

• Petroleum products, such as petrol, diesel and kerosene supply about 37 percent of U.S. energy needs.

• The United States is the No.1 producer (and consumer) of oil, followed by Saudi Arabia, Russia and Canada. The USA is also the world's largest producer of natural gas. 

• Over 65 percent of all new natural gas production over the last decade has been produced using fracking methods. Fracking is controversial because of its environmental footprint.

• Roughly 26 percent of global electrical power comes from renewable sources.

• A recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report states that U.S. fossil fuel use can be cut by 80 percent by 2050. To achieve this, Americans must cut their energy consumption in half, develop renewable energy resources to the point that they supply 80 percent of all power, electrify almost all types of transportation, and stop using fossil fuel heating or cooking systems in homes and offices.