How is energy produced, and how does it get from the source to you? Watch our series to find out. Then, take the quiz to learn more about America’s energy sources, then find out about the world’s newest alternative fuels.

Power Play

Where does our country’s energy really come from?


The world's petroleum supply is drying up. Click the button to learn more about alternative energy sources.


Biomass -- organic material made from plants and animals -- uses stored energy from the sun to produce power. Biomass includes wood, crops, manure and waste, and can be converted into ethanol and biodiesel fuels used in car engines. Biomass meets three percent of America's modern energy demands.

The good: Cheap and clean source of energy.

The bad: Limited production capabilities.


Ocean-derived energy includes: tidal, marine current, wave and OTEC. Oceans cover two-thirds or the world's surface, although oceanic energy's limited application and expense make it a less-efficient source of power.

The good: Endless supply of energy with little or no pollution.

The bad: Expensive and still in early research stages.


The sun is a powerful source of energy -- the earth receives more energy from the sun in one day than the world's entire population uses in 27 years. This energy can be harnessed in solar panels (photovoltaic cells), solar cookers, water heaters, etc.

The good: Endless supply of cheap energy.

The bad: Production units are expensive and it's geographically limited to sunny regions.


Wind power is a renewable source that is currently a top energy producer in several European countries. While still a small player on the global market, wind power usage has doubled every three years since 1990.

The good: Endless supply of cheap, renewable energy.

The bad: Production units are expensive and it's geographically limited to windy regions.


Hydropower produces roughly 80,000 megawatts (one megawatt = 1 million watts) of energy in the United States each year, fulfilling seven percent of the country's energy needs. Currently only three percent of the nation's dams are fit for hydroelectric-power generation.

The good: Endless supply of energy with minimal cost.

The bad: High in cost financially and environmentally.


Geothermal energy -- heat produced by hotspots in the earth's crust -- can be collected via steam or hot water. Provides a limited source of energy in the United States.

The good: Cheap and clean source of energy.

The bad: Limited supply and use.

In part one of our series, we look at energy use in the U.S.

A closer look at the number one energy source in the United States.


Shelby Holliday looks at the benefits and risks of oil.


Does this resource solve our energy issues?


The pros and cons of a nuclear power plant.

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