The Sources theme deals with a range of substances and processes that can be exploited for the energy they provide. This is the largest theme in the book, with 19 sections. Sources begins with a section dealing with bioenergetics, the use of energy by living systems. This is a historical predecessor to all forms of energy employed by humans for useful purposes. Following bioenergetics are sections on biomass (wood and plant products), hydropower (energy from moving water), and wind. These are energy sources known since ancient times and still widely employed today, both in the same manner that they were used historically (e.g., biomass in the form of wood fuel) and in newer ways (e.g., wind to produce electricity).

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