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Electricity and the History of Energy Resources
Green electricity, the ability to produce energy from renewable and
environmentally friendly sources, is the wave of the future. As we more
closely examine the negative impact of fossil fuels, the demand for clean
energy grows. Interestingly, the history of energy sources involves an array
that are often overlooked in the present age, but may hold the answers to
today's problems. To appreciate the different possible future green energy
resources, it's worth looking back in order to look ahead.
Thousands of years ago, man used natural sources to create energy. For
example, for centuries wood was the most sought after energy source. In fact,
on a time line of energy use, wood dominates until the 1800's. Another often
used source of energy was the sun. For example, the ancient Greeks built homes
with large windows that purposefully faced south to collect heat and light.
Other natural elements that man harnessed into energy were, of course, wind
and water. Wind was used to power ships, and wind and rivers powered mills
that helped produce products such as paper or cloth. None of these were
destructive to the environment until man became expert at deforestation, and
then, for the first time, man had a negative impact on the environment.
Around 1500 A.D., man was forced to look for an alternate energy source to
wood as it became a rarer commodity. That's when the first fossil fuel was
introduced: coal. For several hundred years, there was a tremendous dependence
on the collecting and burning of this nonrenewable resource, even though there
were immediate obvious draw backs. It wasn't until the 20th Century that
petroleum was put to use as a source of energy. In looking back at the energy
time line, it's easy to see how short a time span fossil fuels has occupied.
Today, as Earth pays a big price for the use of fossil fuels, mankind once
again looks for a new source of energy. Ironically, some of the choices that
are becoming feasible involve the ones that our ancestors looked to: sun,
water, and wind. Green electricity is now being produced that relies on these
through the use of such concepts as floating wind farms, solar photovoltaic
modules, and hydro power. As green resources are gradually introduced, carbon
emissions will be reduced until, once again, man finds that renewable and
natural energy resources are what will save the planet.
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