Energy refers to the ability to do work. Most people consider electricity as the common form of energy that is extremely useful in their lives. Much of the energy that people use in the contemporary society comes from fossil fuels, which are scarce and non-renewable (Gori, 2009). As a result, people are doing exploration on various renewable resources for production of electricity. This discussion will consider the technical and scientific concepts related to the uses of fossil fuels and renewable energy resources, and the advantages and disadvantages related to both fossil fuels and renewable energy resources.
Natural gas has become a popular fossil fuel for the generation of electricity because it has a clean burning nature (Gori, 2009). Man has invented combustion engines such as natural gas-fired reciprocating engines that can utilize natural gas to generate electricity. These engines convert the chemical energy in natural gas into mechanical energy, which rotates pistons to generate electricity (Apergis & Payne, 2011). The natural gas-fired reciprocating engines can generate up to seven megawatts. Renewable resources, such as running water, wind, and geysers have been common in the generation of electricity (Haddad, 2011). For instance, the flow of fresh water from streams, rivers, and lakes is significant in the generation of hydroelectric power. As water flows from the reservoir, the potential energy of water changes into kinetic energy (Haddad, 2011). The kinetic energy of moving water changes into mechanical energy, for instance, by turning turbines, which in turn produces electrical energy.
The use of fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal in the generation of electricity, has both positive and negative effects. Fossil fuels are the main resources in the generation of electricity because of a number of advantages, namely generates large amounts of electric power, easy to find, transportation can be through pipelines, and power plants are extremely efficient (Gori, 2009). However, fossil fuels have negative effects, such as emission of carbon dioxide gas, destruction of useful lands during mining, unpleasant odors, just to mention a few (Apergis & Payne, 2011). Renewable energy resources, such as wind energy, water energy, and wave energy have replaced most of the non-renewable energy resources because they do not emit release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (Haddad, 2011). However, renewable energy sources have a number of negative effects, namely costly to establish power plants; inconsistent because of weather disturbances; and people cannot install power plants anywhere (Haddad, 2011).