Energy is central to the study of chemistry. Energy lies behind chemical processes and we use chemistry to obtain energy in various forms. Yet we don’t spend a lot of time studying the issues of energy supply. It is time we did.

Fossil fuels is a bad word (or is that two words?) these days for two reasons.
¨ Supply is beginning to be outstripped by demand and supplies are finite
¨ Burning of fossil fuels is linked with the phenomenon of global warming which is perhaps the most significant environmental development in the history of mankind
One way or another a change is going to come; but what kinds of change and when? Those are the questions that remain to be answered.

Interesting Resources
Books:
"Alternative Energy Resources: The Quest for Sustainable Energy" by Paul Kruger

"Renewable Energy Made Easy: Free Energy from Solar, Wind, Hydropower, and Other Alternative Energy Sources" by David Craddock

"Physics for Future Presidents" by Richard Muller (written by a UC Berkeley physics professor - has some good information about energy sources)

"Alternative Energy for Dummies"

"Solar Power Your Home for Dummies"

"Wind Power for Dummies"

"Alternative Energy Demystified" by Stan Gibilisco

"Alternative Energy: Beyond Fossil Fuels" by Dana Meachen Rau

"Basics of Energy Efficient Living: A Beginner's Guide to Alternative Energy and Home Energy Savings" by Lonnie Wibberding

"Renewable and Alternative Energy Resources: A Reference Handbook" by Zachary Smith, Katrina Taylor

Various:
"Domestic Potential of Solar and Other Renewable Energy Sources" by National Research Council (U.S.), the Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems - This is a bit older, written in 1979, but provides interesting insight on the development of alternative energy sources at the time.

Energy Sources Can be Categorized As Renewable or Nonrenewable

When we use electricity in our home, the electrical power was probably generated by burning coal, by a nuclear reaction, or by a hydroelectric plant at a dam. Therefore, coal, nuclear and hydro are called energy sources. When we fill up a gas tank, the source might be petroleum or ethanol made by growing and processing corn.
Energy sources are divided into two groups — renewable (an energy source that can be easily replenished) and nonrenewable (an energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate). Renewable and nonrenewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy sources including electricity and hydrogen.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources include:
  • Solar energy from the sun, which can be turned into electricity and heat
  • Wind
  • Geothermal energy from heat inside the Earth
  • Biomass from plants, which includes firewood from trees, ethanol from corn, and biodiesel from vegetable oil
  • Hydropower from hydroturbines at a dam
The Role of Renewable Energy Consumption in the Nation's Energy Supply: Petroleum 37%, Natural Gas 24%, Coal 23%, Nuclear Electric Power 9%, Renewable Energy 7%. Renewable energy breakdown: Solar 1%, Geothermal 5%, Wind 7%, Hydropower 34%, Biomass 53%
The Role of Renewable Energy Consumption in the Nation's Energy Supply: Petroleum 37%, Natural Gas 24%, Coal 23%, Nuclear Electric Power 9%, Renewable Energy 7%. Renewable energy breakdown: Solar 1%, Geothermal 5%, Wind 7%, Hydropower 34%, Biomass 53%
Click to enlarge »

Nonrenewable Energy

We get most of our energy from nonrenewable energy sources, which include the fossil fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal. They're called fossil fuels because they were formed over millions and millions of years by the action of heat from the Earth's core and pressure from rock and soil on the remains (or "fossils") of dead plants and creatures like microscopic diatoms. Another nonrenewable energy source is the element uranium, whose atoms we split (through a process called nuclear fission) to create heat and ultimately electricity.
We use renewable and nonrenewable energy sources to generate the electricity we need for our homes, businesses, schools, and factories. Electricity "energizes" our computers, lights, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners, to name only a few uses.
Most of the gasoline used in our cars and motorcycles and the diesel fuel used in our trucks are made from petroleum oil, a nonrenewable resource. Natural gas, used to heat homes, dry clothes, and cook food, is nonrenewable. The propane that fuels our outdoor grills made from oil and natural gas, both nonrenewable.
The chart above shows what energy sources the United States uses. Nonrenewable energy sources account for 93% of all energy used in the Nation. Biomass, the largest renewable source, accounts for over half of of all renewable energy and 3.7% of total energy consumption. (Note: 53% of 7% is 3.7%.) --By: Fatima Khan

Website: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=about_home-basics