Gas Who?

All research was conducted online on June 11, 2012 in the UTSA ITEC computer labs.

Solar Energy

Food and Fun

Definition HD

Solar energy is used for heating and electricity. To absorb that energy, we use solar panels. What solar panels do is turn the sun's energy into an electric current. Another way to make electricity by using solar powers is by using a power plant. They use solar heat to boil water, creating steam to turn magnetic turbines, making electricity.
However, it solar energy can only be taken during the daytime. But people use batteries in order to keep the energy stored. Another solution would be to use other resources while another source is not working. This helps keep our electronics and warmth without using nonrenewable fossil fuels.
Many people use solar energy. There are solar calculators, watches, spacecraft, phones, and other small appliances. Some people even use solar energy to power their homes! They like solar energy since it is free. It is also renewable, meaning we can use it over and over again. It doesn’t pollute the environment. Fossil fuels create smoke and carbon dioxide, causing global warming, unlike solar power.

solar power plant
solar power plant

A solar powered house saves money.
A solar powered house saves money.

Benefits WC

The benefits of solar energy are that it saves money. It also has environmental benefits; it is renewable and clean, and it does not pollute the air. It makes the world a better place.

Local Uses JC

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Texas has large amounts of fossil fuel resources such as oil,gas,coal and uranium but the State has even more renewable resources that make those fossil fuel resources look small. The wind, solar biomass potential in Texas is equal to 4,330 quadrillion British Thermal Units per year, or about 400 times the amount of energy.

Global Uses TB

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Limitation EF

The best solar panels convert very little energy they receive into usable electricity. A lot of panels are needed to satisfy a home's energy needs. Solar power systems are expensive and require large amounts of surface area to create a small amount of energy. There are several factors that limit the entry of the sun’s rays into the earth’s atmosphere. One is the nocturnal and diurnal cycle, which is the cycle of night and day. Another is the atmospheric shield that decreases the intensity of the sun’s rays as it goes through the shield towards the surface of the earth. Another is the cloud covering over areas on earth. Solar panels are not highly efficient. The efficiency is determined by many factors including the amount of shade, wind, dust, amount of daylight, access to direct sunlight.

Water Energy

Wet Wave Work

Definition IH

What is hydroelectric power?
Hydroelectric power is electricity that is supplied by generating energy from falling or streaming water. Hydroelectric power is a so-called renewable energy source. This means that the source, which provides the energy, can be renewed. This is because, unlike non-renewable energy sources such as crude oil, we will not run out of water fully. It can be renewed after we have used it for energy generation.
Water: A transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, H 2 O, freezing at 32°F or 0°C and boiling at 212°F or 100°C, that in a more or less impure state constitutes rain, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.
Pertaining to the generation and distribution of electricity derived from the energy of falling water.
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Any of various machines having a rotor, usually with blades, driven by the pressure, momentum, or reactive thrust of a moving fluid, as steam, water, hot gases, or air, either occurring in the form of free jets or as a fluid passing through and entirely filling a housing

Benefits JK

Benefits of hydroelectric power

  1. Hydroelectricity is a renewable energy source.
  2. Hydroelectricity promotes guaranteed energy and price stability.
  3. Hydroelectric power plant reservoirs collect rainwater, which can then be used for consumption or for irrigation. In storing water, they protect the water tables against depletion and reduce our vulnerability to floods and droughts.
  4. Hydroelectricity helps fight climate changes.
  5. Hydro electricity improves the air we breathe.
  6. Hydroelectricity offers a significant contribution to development.
  7. Hydroelectricity means clean and cheap energy for today and for tomorrow.

Local Uses JR
Hydropower contributes only about one percent of Texas' electrical generating capacity and less than 0.5 percent of the energy produced. The relatively gentle terrain, low rainfall, and moderate changes in elevation throughout much of Texas means the state's hydropower resource is modest by national standards and likely to see only modest continued development. Ocean energy technologies are immature, but this point may be moot as Texas has poor ocean energy resources the mansfield dam is the biggest dam in texas
In Texas, hydropower's contribution is much smaller, accounting for only 1% of the state's. The red dots in Figure 12 identify the location of the state's existing hydro facilities. A 1993 study by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory identified an additional 1,000 MW of undeveloped hydro resource (identified as the green dots in Figure 12 and summarized with existing generation by river basin in Figure 10). Very little of this potential is currently slated for development. Significant legal and regulatory impediments, such as land acquisition and environmental protection, will be a part of any major hydro project. Additionally, reservoirs are typically built and managed primarily as municipal water supply and flood control systems and secondarily for power production. This fact lowers the potential impact of hydro development on the state's energy picture

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Global UsesCG
Global uses of Hydroelectric Power (Water Power)
  • Hydropower is the most important and widely-used renewable source of energy.
  • Hydropower represents 19% of total electricity production.
  • China is the largest producer of hydroelectricity, followed by Canada, Brazil, and the United States.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the economically feasible potential remains to be developed. Untapped hydro resources are still abundant in Latin America, Central Africa, India, and China.
  • The biggest hydroelectric dam is the Three Gorges Dam located in the People’sRepublic of China.external image three-gorges-dam1.jpg

Limitation JZ

Limitations to water power or hydroelectricity:
  • High investment costs
  • Hydrology dependent (precipitation) depends on rainfall
  • In some cases, flooding of land and wildlife habitat
  • In some cases, loss or modification(change) of fish habitat
  • Fish entrainment (trapped fish) or passage restriction
  • In some cases, changes in reservoir and stream water quality
  • In some cases, displacement (forced movement) of local populations
  • You need lots of water and a lot of land where you can build a dam and reservoir, which all takes a LOT of money, time, and construction
  • Hydropower facilities can have large environmental impacts by changing the environment and affecting land use, homes, and natural habitats in the dam area
  • Methane and carbon dioxide may also form in some reservoirs and be emitted to the atmosphere
  • Hydro turbines kill and injure some of the fish that pass through the turbine
"Hydroelectric Power Water Use." Hydroelectric Power and Water. Basic Information about Hydroelectricity, USGS Water Science for Schools. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.

"Hydropower." EIA Energy Kids - Hydropower. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.

"Water." Environment Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.

Geothermal Energy

Hot Earth Explosions

Definition CJ
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Energy obtained by tapping underground reservoirs of heat,usually near volcanoes or other hot spots on the surface of the Earth.

Benefits GL

The biggest benefit of GHPs is that they use 25%–50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems. This translates into a GHP using one unit of electricity to move three units of heat from the earth. According to the EPA, geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption—and corresponding emissions—up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment. GHPs also improve humidity control by maintaining about 50% relative indoor humidity, making GHPs very effective in humid areas.
Because they have no outside condensing units like air conditioners, there's no concern about noise outside the home. A two-speed GHP system is so quiet inside a house that users do not know it is operating: there are no tell-tale blasts of cold or hot air.

Local Uses HJ
In East Texas and South Texas hotter temperatures are found closer to the surface then in West Texas, so, geothermal energy is easier to get to toward the southern and western edges of our state.

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Global Uses JB
Geothermal power is on the rise, at least according to the latest figures from the industry body; the Geothermal Energy Association Around a quarter of that capacity was being generated in the U.S, which remains the world’s leading producer. But although the U.S remains out in front, the country which first developed geothermal power is being caught up by global growth, which GEA said “continues to outpace the U.S by a noticeable margin.”
According to GEA’s report, two countries are quickly growing in knowledge about geothermal. Turkey and Kenya. Turkey currently has 100MW of geothermal but the Turkish Geothermal Association estimates that it will rise to 500 MW by 2015. The report said the country has at least 2,000 MW of potential geothermal.
Kenya’s potential capacity is even greater upward of 7,000 MW. At least 14 geothermal sites have been identified for development in the country and the African nation currently has 202 MW.

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Limitation JC

Facts & Evidence:
v Usually only where the crust is thin, also in volcanoes, hot springs
v The feasibility and economics of these systems depends on the climate, soil conditions, available land, and local installation costs.

v Need the equipment to find the thin places in the earth’s crust.

Biomass Energy

To Eat or Not to Eat

Definition MS

Biomass is the organic matter that can be transformed into an alternative energy source, such as ethanol and methane. Ethanol is often used in motor fuel mainly as an additive for gasoline. Methane is the fumes from landfills. Methane is a natural gas. This means it is also used in fuel.

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Benefits RS
Crops, wood, farm animal waste, and organic matter are all part of biomass feedstock. Biomass energy can be used for fuels and power production. Biomass energy reduces acid rain and global warming. Biomass ash can be used as soil for agricultural uses. Biomass increases the amount energy by turning methane emissions into energy. This also creates more jobs.

Local Uses RH

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Global Uses JY
Biomass is an organic matter that can be used to make fuels, chemicals and other products, as well as provide heat or electricity. Biomass enerty is used for fuel, electricity and so on. Biomass energy is used worldwide and there are lots of biomass crops and biomass powerplants.

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Limitation AB

Biomass energy—energy generated from agricultural waste or specially grown energy crops—has been widely touted as a clean, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Research is booming to improve energy crops and methods of converting crops to fuel. Already, Brazil gets 30% of its automotive fuel from ethanol distilled from sugar cane. But critics warn that “energy farming” will gobble up land needed to grow food or will impinge on natural ecosystems, possibly even worsening the climate crisis.

You need to control emissions from burning biomass materials to prevent local air pollution. Any system you install must comply with legislation such as the Clean Air Act.

Wind Energy

Blowing in the Wind

Definition VK

Wind energy is the conversion of wind energy to useful energy, such as electricity. Many converters are used, but they are all called “windmills” as a general term: wind turbines convert wind energy to electrical energy, windmills convert wind energy into mechanical energy, windpumps to pump water or drainage, or sails to propel boats.
Wind turbines have 3 blades which spin in the wind. A shaft connected to the blades spins, spinning the generator. The spinning of the generator creates electricity, which travels down the turbine in cables. Then, underground cables transport the electricity to local power grids.
There are many types of windmills. Some pump water, some power mills, and some create electricity. Some, such as sails, do not use blades at all to produce mechanical energy.

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Benefits JC

  • Wind energy is cost competitive with other fuel sources.
  • Wind energy creates jobs.
  • Wind energy is an indigenous, homegrown energy source that helps to diversify the national energy portfolio.
  • Wind energy can provide income for rural farmers and ranchers, as well as economic benefits to depressed rural areas.
  • Wind energy is an inexhaustible renewable energy source.
  • Wind turbines do not consume water.
  • Wind energy is clean.
  • Wind energy systems have low operating costs.
  • Wind energy is cost competitive with other fuel sources.
  • Wind energy creates jobs.
  • Wind energy is an indigenous, homegrown energy source that helps to diversify the national energy portfolio.
  • Wind energy can provide income for rural farmers and ranchers, as well as economic benefits to depressed rural areas.
  • Wind energy is an inexhaustible renewable energy source.
  • Wind turbines do not consume water.
  • Wind energy is
  • Wind energy systems have low operating costs.

Local and Global Uses HP

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Limitation IB
Bat kills are the latest big problem for wind farmers. Researcher's estimate that 1,500 to 4,000 bats were killed at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in Western Maryland in 2004. This is raising concerns about an expansion of wind turbine use at Backbon Mountain in Maryland, where Clipper Wind power, Inc.of California is planning to build a project 20 miles away from the Mountaineer site.

  • Only viable in areas with ideal wind conditions
  • Not always available (e.g. calm days)
  • Many of NH’s ideal wind farm locations are in scenic areas where development would be controversial