Introduction to Major Energy Sources

Energy sources are used as fuels. Fuel is burned in machinery to create motion (such as in a car) or heat (such as in a home heating system). When fuels are used for producing electricity, heat or motion causes a generator to rotate, creating electricity for everyday use in homes and businesses.

Energy sources can be classified into two types: nonrenewable and renewable. Nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels and nuclear material, are removed from the earth and can be depleted. These resources have been the most used type of energy in the modern era.

Renewable resources, such as wind, water, solar, and geothermal, come from sources that regenerate as fast as they are consumed and are continuously available. Some, such as biofuel produced from food crops and other plants, are replenished every growing season. In the early part of the twenty-first century, renewable sources have become more popular as nonrenewable sources have begun to be depleted.

Read more about different types of energy by using the navigation bar to the left or from the links below.

Natural Gas
Coal-based fuel


Higher energy prices and depleted nonrenewable resources have caused lawmakers in Pennsylvania to increase their efforts to enhance the amounts of clean, renewable sources of energy. Programs and legislation have been enacted to stimulate alternative energy.

In 2005, Governor Edward G. Rendell established the Governor's Renewable Agricultural Energy Council to coordinate the development and expansion of agricultural energy industries in the state of Pennsylvania. One of the primary goals of the council is to increase total energy generated by clean renewable resources to 18% in fifteen years. The governor also established the Green Government Council in 1998 to improve the energy efficiency of state agencies, construct or remodel government buildings using "green" methods, and the promotion of alternative energy.

The Energy Independence Strategy is a more recent plan to reduce consumer prices of electricity over time, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and expand total energy production. The Department of Environmental Protection also offers incentives to reduce the use of fossil fuels through grants.

State government set a statewide example by purchasing 10% of needed electricity from green energy production, which will grow to 20% in the future. Public education for renewable energy and efficiency is passed to the public through state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Commission. Pennsylvania is moving towards cleaner, more dependable energy sources by offering many alternative energy options and providing public education.


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