All About Energy
What is energy?
Energy makes things happen. We use energy to move and keep warm. We use energy to light our homes and to make sounds.
An energy resource is something that can be used to provide energy. Water is an energy resource. It can be used to turn waterwheels or turbines. Wind is an energy resource. It can be used to make sailing boats move and to make wind turbines work.
Wood, peat and coal are energy resources which can be used in a fire to make us warm. Oil and gas are energy resources. These can be used in the central heating boilers which heat our homes and schools. Oil and gas can also be used to give us light.
Food is an energy resource which gives us energy to walk, run, skip, eat and pump blood around our bodies.
The sun is our greatest energy resource. All of our energy comes from the sun. It shines on us and keeps us warm, it shines on solar panels which produces electricity. It shines on trees and the leaves use the sun’s energy to make the trees grow. We cut down trees for wood. The sun shone on trees and other plants millions of years ago. These died and decayed into peat, coal, oil and gas. It shines on crops and grass which are food for humans and animals. Hot air rises, causing air to move in the form of wind.
Renewable energy can be used over and over again without running out. For example, the wind blows, the water in rivers flow and the sun shines all the time.
The wind blows over the land and sea, moving boats, windmills and wind turbines. Wind turbines can make electricity.
Water falls as rain onto the hills. The water runs downhill, filling rivers and streams. This flowing water can turn a waterwheel which can be used in a mill to grind flour. Hydro-power stations on rivers can use the energy from flowing water to turn turbines to make electricity.
The sun shines on plants and makes them grow. It gives us some of the light and heat in our homes. Solar panels can be used to turn the sun’s energy into electricity.
Renewable energy does not give off smoke and dirt, it’s a clean energy.
Peat, coal, gas and oil are non-renewable energy resources. They take millions of years to form and when they run out, they cannot be replaced. They are called fossil fuels.
When we use fossil fuels to produce energy, they give off smoke and dirt into the environment. Using fossil fuels also causes global warming.
The chart below shows where Ireland got its energy during 2011.
* The remaining amount refers to electricity imports and non-renewable wastes, which add up to approx. 1%.
Ireland's targets for 2020 are:
- increase renewables by 20%
- reduce energy consumption by 20%
- reduce greenhouse gas levels by 20%
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