Energy comes from food, air, the sun, wind, water and minerals. The most important are the four major forms of energy: heat, light and power.
The four dominant forms of energy are the sun, wind, water and minerals.
The sun has very high energy output (photovoltaic), which is why solar panels can produce energy at the rate of about one watt per square centimetre of panel area. However, as the sun’s energy output increases, it is necessary to make up some of the energy lost to radiation.
The most important energy sources for humans are the four main forms of energy: air, biomass, fossil fuel and solar energy.
The difference in these four forms of energy also plays its part in the difference in energy requirements. For instance, when the sun’s energy output increases, we need to consume less energy and therefore produce less heat energy. Thus, increasing our solar energy requirement would translate in reducing our biomass, fossil fuel and thermal energy requirements. Also, during a solar eclipse, many of us are in direct sunlight and hence our energy needs increase. For instance, if you have a glass and steel pan or oven, you would need to add a smaller space heater to your kitchen.
The Earth emits heat, which means that any form of energy, not just thermal energy is important (see below). As you may have realised, if one can consume less energy through these processes, there cannot be as much waste in the world. The most energy-dense foods and water molecules are found in the most dense form of matter, such as ice. These are the same substances that we should be aiming to grow in the sun.
The Earth also emits thermal energy as heat in all directions. Hence, any form of energy would be good on Earth, while other forms of energy would still be good on other planets in our solar system. So, a combination of these forms of energy is crucial in our attempts to survive in space.
What does that mean?
If you could get all that thermal energy out of one pot, it would go into the oceans. On Earth, we get a lot of thermal energy by burning biomass and by using solar energy (see the Earth: An InfraRed Planet page).
Energy from the oceans can also go into space for space travel. The only way for it to be absorbed by the Sun is to be absorbed by a liquid such as water (see the Water Resources page).
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