Meeting the Energy Challenge! There are Now More Ways Than Ever!


Have you used energy today?

You bet you have—maybe more than you realize.

You might not think about it, because you do it all the time. But a lot of the things you use during the day need energy. The microwave you use to heat up your breakfast. The car or bus you take to school. The computers you use in the classroom or library. The TV you watch before bed.

It’s a long list, if you think about it.

And that’s just you! Think about how many kids are in your class, and how many people there are in your town, in your state, in the U.S.—around the entire world. That is a lot of people who are using a lot of energy.

Different types of energy are used for different things. Gasoline is a type of energy that is used to fuel cars, buses, trucks, and other modes of transportation. Electricity is a type of energy that gives power to anything you have plugged into a wall, from your microwave to your laptop. Electricity comes from many different sources. That’s good news for us, because we use a lot of it.

Looking to the Future

Engineers and scientists are working on new ways to get the most electricity in all kinds of ways. Some get electricity from the wind by using giant turbines. Others make solar panels to get electricity from the sun. Wind and solar power are called renewable energy sources, because there will always be wind, and there will always be sunshine.

Another source of electricity begins with coal. It has been used for a long time, and it can continue to be used for a long time. The United States has enough coal to power our country for over 200 more years! But back to the present: More than 33% of our electricity comes from coal right now.

There are three reasons why we use coal to make electricity. The first reason we use coal is because it is abundant, which means we have a large supply that is broadly available. The second reason is that it’s affordable. Electricity from coal doesn’t cost a lot of money to use compared to some of the other energy sources. The third reason is that coal is reliable. The sun sometimes hides behind a cloud, and the wind sometimes stops blowing. Electricity from coal, though, is there when we need it.

New technologies make sure that coal-fueled power plants are as clean as possible. A clean, healthy environment is important to all of us.

With the help of coal and other fuels, we can meet the energy challenge!


Be sure to see the accompanying lessons:
Identifying Different Types of Coal
Coal Washing 

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