Put simply, energy is the ability to do work. Energy is needed to change or move matter, and fuel is needed to create energy. Our bodies use a lot of energy. It is created through chemical reactions when it gets fuel in the form of food. The more energy you use, the more fuel you need to consume. That’s why you’re much hungrier after running or swimming than you are after watching a movie.
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.
Tucson Electric Power explains energy basics: What it is, where it comes from, and types of energy, in their Energy for Kids pages.
An important way to become more energy independent is to develop sources of renewable energy. Solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, and biofuels are all renewable energy sources that can reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to power Arizona. Right now the most investigated form of renewable energy is solar power, which uses energy from the sun. Arizona’s sunny climate gives it some of the highest solar potential in the county. Dozens of independent companies are developing solar power for use in home and business. Other companies are building large-scale generation stations for widespread distribution
Tucson Electric Power's Sunsite Funsite
Tucson Electric Power Company's Sunsite Funsite brings the principles of solar energy to life. Enter the "Solar Energy" page for interactive descriptions of photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy, and chemical energy.
Coal Power Tour
Tour a powerplant! The SRP’s virtual power plant tour shows you how electricity is generated at a coal generated power plant using panoramas, videos, and animations. Make sure to read the instructions.
These sources of power are not renewable and can create unwanted by-products known as pollution. Natural gas does not occur in Arizona, so the state imports it from California and Texas via pipeline. Coal does occur on the Colorado Plateau. Arizona mines about 7.5 million tons of coal every year and imports additional coal for use in coal-powered electricity generators. When fossil fuels are burned, they create the by-product of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is the largest nuclear power plant in the country. Though not renewable, nuclear energy produces no carbon dioxide. An innovative program only in use in Arizona uses treated wastewater to cool nuclear cores and contain nuclear waste. By recycling wastewater, Arizona is helping to preserve water, a valuable natural resource.