Generating Energy: Helping or Hurting the Biosphere?

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Smoke stacks on a power plant. Picture source: shutterstock

When we talk about “energy,” we mean the electricity that makes other things work, like lights, refrigerators, air conditioners, and computers. Do you ever wonder where this energy comes from?

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Electric power lines. Picture source: blogs.columbia.law.edu

Electricity is made by power plants. Most of the power plants in the United States, and around the world, burn coal to make electricity. The problem is that burning coal creates air pollution. This air pollution is unhealthy for people to inhale. It’s also causing Earth’s climates to change, which is creating very strange weather for people around the world. Some areas are getting too dry. Others are having really bad storms. The messed up weather is affecting people’s lives!

The good news is that people around the world are developing other ways to create energy. 

In the country of Denmark, I saw many wind turbines around the country. Instead of burning coal to generate electricity, the wind does the work! I saw the turbines in farmers’ fields, as well as offshore in the ocean. Take a look at my video below. The wind turbines are very quiet, but the wind created quite a noise blowing across my microphone.

When I was travelling around the country of Iceland, I saw hydro-thermal power stations making energy. The heat from magma underground is used to turn large turbines to generate electricity. Click here to see photos and videos. 

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Chirpy checks out the steam pipes that take the hot water to the turbines. The steam you see at the power plant in the distance is just water vapor from the hot water. It’s not air pollution.

Traveling through upstate New York, I saw another great way to create energy without causing a lot of air pollution: hydro-electric power. New York’s hydro-electric power station is located next to the Niagara River. There’s so much water flowing so rapidly down the river, that it creates a strong force. The force of the flowing water can be used to turn turbines.

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This turbine is on display at the hydro-electric power station’s visitor center. Turbines like this one are used to create energy.

 

The moving turbines generate electricity, just like burning coal, or blowing wind, or the pressure of hot steam.

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The Niagara River flowing down from Niagara Falls. You can see the dam in the background that diverts the water through the hydro-electric power station.

 

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This hydro-electric power station sends the energy it generates to the high-powered electric lines you see in the background.

 

Yet another way to generate energy is by harnessing the sun’s heat. Solar panels convert the sun’s heat into electricity. The town of Clarkestown, close to our own school district, has set up over 6,000 solar panels to generate energy for its government buildings. Click here to see photos and videos.

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Solar panels set up in West Nyack.

 Can you think of other ways to generate energy without creating air pollution?

81 thoughts on “Generating Energy: Helping or Hurting the Biosphere?

  1. I didn’t know government buildings were using solar panels to generate energy! But it makes me wonder why don’t I see solar panels everywhere?

  2. I find it really interesting that people are created such great ideas to make energy. This is helping planet Earth by slowing down Climate Change.I really like the idea of using turbines for hydroelectric energy, because it is really helpful to the environment, and a smart and useful idea!

  3. Wow! There are so many different ways to create energy not just power plants. There are also Wind Turbines and solar panels that can help stop global warming.

  4. generating energy in ways that do not burn fossil fuels is great for the environment! wait but why doesn’t every country use hydro electric power or solar panels or wind turbines it is expensive but at least we are not causing air pollution which in turn causes global warming

  5. I never new that there are so many different ways to generate electricity without burning fossil fuels. I also never realized how many people are coming up with such great ideas to slow down climate change.

  6. This is all so cool. It is so amazing to see the wind turbines and everything else. It is also so amazing to think that a lot of people not just in the U.S are working on slowing down climate change.

  7. That was cool in the picture with all of those solar panels. How do they put all of them in one spot? It seems so much easier if everyone would use solar panels instead of burning fossil fuels. Plus it would help the economy.

  8. I find it so cool that people in Denmark use the magmas heat from under the ground to make electricity. I wonder what other states in our country use to generate energy !

  9. I learned that the niagara falls has a hydroelectric power plant that creates energy when water flows through a hole and spins a turbine that sends electricity to power lines.

  10. One way is to build a huge building and have these Bicycle machines hooked up to some buildings with a lot of technology. They should pay a couple people to use the Bicycle machines. It would be tiring 😅 but it would help the environment big time!!!!
    😁😁😄😆

  11. This was really interesting! I have always loved science but i never really knew about power plants and how turbines and power plants generate energy. I hope more people find out this so they can learn something new about how you can generate energy differently.

  12. Its so cool that someone came up with the idea to put turbines under Niagara River, its genius! Though, its not that genius because someone could get hit by the rushing water and hit their head on a rock or something like that and get seriously injured. Still, the idea is great and I encourage it, not the injuring obviously…

  13. I did not know that Iceland used hydrothermal power stations to generate energy before I read this page on generating energy. I did not know what hydrothermal power stations were before i read this page either😄

  14. “The town of Clarkestown, close to our own school district, has set up over 6,000 solar panels to generate energy for its government buildings.” Wow! I’m SO glad to know SOMEONE(other than our school district) is FINALLY helping the environment!!!!!!!!!! There are now SO MANY ways to create energy in an eco-friendly way!!!!! the hydro electric plant is on a dam it is very usefull. It can do two things at once. It can generate power, And block water from flooding. I hope that many companies and factories continue to or start to use these ideas.

  15. I have a question. Lets say new york had more wind turbines than new jersey, would new york have more electricity in there state? Or would they be forsed to share it?

  16. I learned that you could use magma and water as a source of energy. I didn’t realize that all the pressure would turn the turbine, creating energy.

  17. I found this super interesting! I didn’t know people were really working this hard against climate change. Until I read this post (and until Ms. C-B explained all of it sksksk), I had no idea people were taking these motivating steps against Climate change and air pollution! It’s really inspiring to think about! ^^

  18. Wow! It is so cool that there are so many ways to generate energy! I wonder why most of the United States uses these ways to generate energy.

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