3.3 Energy Resources

UWC_Singapore_1_400UWCSEA East – Solar Thermal Collectors – Active solar energy is often used for water heating.

“An even larger system, (…), is at the UWCSEA (United World College South East Asia) campus in Singapore. This is believed to be the worlds largest solar-powered cooling plant and uses solar thermal collectors with a total area of 3900 square metres (see photo left), which power a lithium bromide absorption chiller with a cooling capacity of 1,575 kW. Further, the solar system can supply up to 100% of the buildings hot water demand.” 

Read more at http://www.solarnovus.com/advances-in-solar-cooling_N5436.html

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2013-11-26 11.21.57Based on class discussion, two energy sources: biomass and hydrogen require further clarification:

1. Biomass (renewable) is organic plant material and animal waste. Plants absorb the sun’s energy through photosynthesis and this chemical energy is passed on to living organisms.

Examples of biomass include:

  • wood, and wood products like bark and sawdust;
  • agricultural crop left-overs;
  • animal manure and food processing wastes;
  • organic portions of municipal solid waste (landfill).

How is biomass converted into energy?

  • Biomass can be burned to create heat. This can be used to create steam to drive turbines that generate electricity
  • Biomass can be heated (not burned) to break it down into gases, liquids, and solids. These can be processed to make fuels, such as methane.
  • Biomass can be fermented or broken down by micro-organisms like yeasts and bacteria to create biofuels such as ethanol. Biofuels are mainly used in vehicles, but can be used to power engines and fuel cells

hydrogen_fuel_cell-large2. The hydrogen fuel cell is a relatively new energy source. It can be thought of as a cross between a regular battery, and a generator. Electrochemical cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy stored in positive and negative charges. However, unlike regular batteries, fuel cells do not wear out over time. Hydrogen and oxygen power fuel cells to make electricity. The hydrogen and oxygen are provided from external sources, so as long as they are supplied to the cell, it will produce electricity.

How are hydrogen fuel cells used?

  • to power electric cars;
  • to provide emergency power in remote places or at hospitals;
  • as portable sources of energy for laptop computers and cell phones
  • to power NASA space shuttle electrical systems.


Task Part 1:

  • Research and compare two energy sources in the context of specific societies. The first should be a non-renewable such as fossil fuels i.e. oil in Venezuela, coal in South Africa/China, or natural gas in Singapore. The second should be a renewable energy source such as wind turbines in Denmark/California or solar panels.
  • Further to this, research whether the resource is economically (be sure to consider supply), socially and environmentally sustainable (in what ways? Explain.)
  • Use a range of sources and include them as in-text citation in MLA format.
  • Also include a list of sources used in MLA format as a Works Cited page at the end.


Task Part 2:

  • For both of your selected energy sources, discuss the factors that affect the choice of energy source for that country/society. Factors you should discuss include: availability, economic, cultural, environmental and technological factors. (see brief example below)
  • Use a range of sources and list the sources used in MLA format as a Works Cited page.

Example of Part 2 for a renewable resource: Firewood in India

in India a huge proportion of population rely on local sources of firewood for energy because it is most readily available/cheap; it is the traditional source of energy, which has always been used; and technology such as solar powered stoves is not available/ affordable; in a drive to develop economically the Indian government has sought to harness other sources of cheap energy to stimulate industrial development;specifically hydroelectricpower, which has sometimes been extremely controversial for social/enviro reasons eg Narmada dam

[the above example would needs to be written in a well-structured essay-style]


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