Energy Lesson 2 : Michigan's Energy Resource Mix

1. Introduction: What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy resources?

Explain to students that energy resources can be classified as renewable or non-renewable. In the past and in the present, Michigan has used renewable and non-renewable energy resources. Renewable resources are those that replenish themselves through natural processes during a human lifespan. Non-renewable resources are finite or take millions of years to replenish. For example, some species of trees, a renewable resource, can be harvested every 40-50 years; in contrast, it takes millions of years for coal, a non-renewable resource, to form.

2. Classify energy resources as renewable or non-renewable. Organize students into small groups and give each group a set of the Michigan Energy Resources Picture Cards and enough Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Resources Used in Michigan student activity pages for each student to have one.

Which energy resources are illustrated on the cards? Ask students to name the resources and then try to classify them on the Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Resources Used in Michigan student activity page.

Display the Michigan Energy Resources Unit Poster and have students name each energy resource and classify the resource as renewable or non-renewable. Discuss the uses of each energy resource (located on the border of the poster).

Summarize and reinforce renewable and nonrenewable resources using the Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Resources Used in Michigan answer key overhead transparency. Renewable energy resources used in Michigan include wind, solar (passive, active and photovoltaic cells), geothermal (closed loop heating and cooling), hydroelectric, biomass (wood, corn, soybeans, agricultural waste, landfill methane, municipal and industrial waste). Non-renewable resources used in Michigan include fossil fuels [coal, natural gas, and petroleum products (oil, propane, gasoline, and diesel)] and uranium (nuclear fission).

3. Which energy resources does Michigan use?

Ask students to interpret the Michigan and U.S. Consumption of Energy Resources, 2010 student handout and transparency.

What important information is in the title of the graphs? [What—consumption of energy resources; Where—Michigan and the United States; When —in 2010.] These graphs include total energy consumption for all sectors (residential, industrial, transportation).

What information do the two axes give you? [Y-axis: quantity of energy in trillion BTU. X-axis: type of energy resource.]

Reinforce that a BTU (British thermal unit) is an energy unit. One BTU is equivalent to the amount of energy released by completely burning one standard wooden kitchen match.

Which energy resource provided the most energy for Michigan in 2010? [Petroleum.]

Which energy resource provided the most energy for the United States in 2010? [Petroleum.]

Why do you think petroleum is the most used energy resource? [Petroleum is the most common transportation fuel. Cars, trucks, planes, ships, and trains all use petroleum derivatives. Cars use gasoline; trucks, trains, and ships often use diesel fuel. Jets use jet fuel, which is a lot like kerosene. Petroleum is also used to generate electricity.]

When Henry Ford designed the first Model-T in 1908, he expected that ethanol made from renewable resources like corn would be the major fuel used by Michigan motorists. This ethanol fuel was commonly called “gasohol” and was sold at more than 2000 service stations during the 1930s.

Which energy resource provided the second most energy for Michigan? [Natural gas.] Which energy resource provided the second most energy for the United States? [Natural gas.] Why do you think natural gas is the second most used energy resource? [Natural gas is the most common energy source for home heating. Natural gas is also used to generate electricity.]

Do Michigan residents depend on renewable or non-renewable energy resources? [Both]

Do U.S. residents depend on renewable or non-renewable energy resources? [Both]

Do Michigan residents primarily use renewable or non-renewable energy resources? [Non-renewable energy resources.]

Do U.S. residents primarily use renewable or non-renewable energy resources?

[Non-renewable energy resources.]

4. How has the consumption of different energy resources in the U.S. changed over time? 

Interpret and discuss the U.S. Energy Consumption by Source, 1635-2010 overhead transparency.

Which energy resource was used first? [Wood.]

Which energy resource was used second? [Coal.]

Which energy resource is the newest? [Nuclear.]

5. How do energy resources become usable?

Explain the Heating Use, Transportation Use, and Electricity Use overhead transparencies.

There are often many steps involved in transforming a primary energy resource into usable energy for your home or vehicle. In order for energy to become usable, the raw resource usually has to be extracted, processed, transformed, and transported in some way.

Each of these processes requires energy and may create wastes. However, renewable resources like the sun, wind, and water can be used to generate electricity or do work at their source and do not require processing or transportation. Geothermal resources require electricity for extraction (pumping) and do not require transportation and distribution. Biomass for home heating requires extraction and sometimes processing and does not usually require transportation or distribution.

Most renewable and non-renewable energy resources can be used to generate electricity, a secondary energy source. Electricity is a cheap, efficient way to transport energy to our homes.

6. Where does Michigan get its energy resources and how are they transported? Display Electricity Generation map.

Show students the Electricity Generation map. Explain that although Michigan has some reserves of oil and natural gas, as well as renewable resources such as the sun, wind, water, and biomass, most of the energy resources we use in Michigan come from or are generated outside of the state and country. In 2008 Michigan imported 99% of its oil and other petroleum products and 65% of its natural gas. Petroleum products are transported by pipeline or truck. The natural gas that is used by Michigan customers comes from the Lower Peninsula, the Texas-Oklahoma Panhandle, on and offshore Louisiana, and Alberta, Canada. Natural gas is transported by transmission and distribution pipelines.

All of the coal and uranium used in Michigan comes from out-of-state. The coal is transported to Michigan most often by train or boat, but sometimes by truck. Sixty-eight percent of the coal used in Michigan in 2003 came from Wyoming and Montana (American Coal Foundation). The uranium fuel rods that are used in Michigan’s nuclear reactors come from many sources outside of the state and are transported by a variety of methods. Most U.S. uranium reserves are located in Wyoming and New Mexico. Canada has the majority of the world’s known uranium reserves.

The total energy imports cost the state $12 billion in 2000 and an estimated $22 billion in 2009.

7. Summary understandings.

For the past 100 years or so, fossil fuels have been the dominant energy resources used to generate electricity, to provide heat and light for homes, and to power transportation. Although Michigan has some reserves of natural gas and oil and renewable resources such as the sun, wind, water, and biomass, most of the energy we use in Michigan comes from other states and countries. This makes Michigan dependent on other states and countries and has high economic costs.

Diversifying our energy resource mix and using more renewable energy resources could make Michigan less dependent on other states and countries, save billions of dollars, and decrease waste.

To make non-renewable energy resources available for human use, the energy resource usually has to be processed, transported and transformed, which also requires energy and may create waste.

Many renewable and non-renewable energy resources can be used to generate electricity. Electricity is a cheap, efficient way to transport energy to our homes. The generation of electricity is addressed in Lesson 3.

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