By definition, alternative energy source refers to any source of energy that doesn’t use or consume traditional fossil fuel. The original intention of the production of alternative energy is to figure out a means to replace fossil fuels that are causing harm to Earth and the environment as a whole.
Nowadays, there are existing alternative energy programs that are already very practical and sustainable. Unfortunately, not everyone, especially third world nations have access to them simply because they don’t have enough resources, i.e., money to build infrastructures and industries that produce or harness alternative energy.
In this article, we will be looking at the most common alternative energy options that are already available for use, the purpose of which is for you to learn how they work and if they’re possible for your current situation.
Solar is the first energy source in the world. It was in use much earlier before humans even learn how to light a fire. Many living things are dependent on solar energy from plants, aquatic life and the animals. The solar is mostly used in generating light and heat. The solar energy coming down to the planet is affected by the orbital path of the sun and its variations within the galaxy. In addition, it is affected by activity taking place in space and on the sun. It was this energy that is believed to have been responsible for the breaking of ice during the ice age, which creates the separation of lands and sea.
Solar energy is one the alternative energy source that is used most widely across the globe. About 70% of the sunlight gets reflected back into the space and we have only 30% of sunlight to meet up our energy demands. While solar energy is used for producing solar energy, it is also used for drying clothes, used by plants during the process of photosynthesis and also used by human beings during winter seasons to make their body temperature warm. Solar energy can be extracted either by Solar Thermal or using Photovoltaic (PV) Cells.
This is one of the energy sources that have been in use for a very long time and for centuries. It was used in powering sailing ships, which made it possible for explorers to sail around their trade routes in distant lands. A single windmill can power the crop irrigation, and the family energy needs, water pumping and electric lights. However, in the present time there are several windmills that are used to generate required energy mostly for industrial uses. Many of the wind turbines can capture much power all at once before feeding it to the power grid. This is commonly know as wind farms and has been in use for many years all round the world. It is only the United States that is going slow in terms of accepting this alternative energy source.
Wind power is renewable source of energy and reduces our alliance on foreign countries for supply of oil and gas. It does not cause any air pollution and have created several jobs in last few decades. Advancement in technologies has brought down the cost of setting up wind power plant. Wind energy can only be used in areas which experience high winds which mean that it cannot be used as a source to extract energy anywhere on earth. They sometimes create noise disturbances and cannot be used near residential areas. These disadvantages have made the use of wind energy to particular regions only.
‘Geo’ means Earth and ‘thermal’ means energy. Geothermal energy means energy drawn or harnessed from beneath the earth. It is completely clean and renewable. Geothermal energy has been in used since last several years. The earth contains a molten rock called magma. Heat is continuously produced from there. The temperature increases about 3 degrees Celsius, for every 100 meters you go below ground. Below, 10,000 meters the temperature is so high, that it can be used to boil water. Water makes its way deep inside the earth and hot rock boils that water. The boiling water then produces steam which is captured by geothermal heat pumps. The steam turns the turbines which in turn activates generators. Read more about working of Geothermal energy here.
Geothermal energy can be found anywhere on the earth. Most countries tap this energy to generate electricity and power millions of homes. The areas which have high underground temperatures are the ones which are the ones which are prone to earthquakes and volcanoes. The United States produces more Geothermal electricity than any other country in the world. Most hot water geothermal reservoirs are located in the western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. Geothermal energy is totally renewable as earth will continue to produce heat as long as we are all are here. If these resources are tapped and are utilized effectively, they can provide solution to the world’s power problems.
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Based on the discussions of the three alternative energy options above, there’s one thing common among them: all of them are infinite sources. It means that unlike oil and gas, energy sources like solar, geothermal, and wind will not run out. With that taken into consideration, there no longer is the risk of competition and monopoly since every habitable part of the world has access to the sun and wind.
But aside from those three, there also is another alternative energy option that may not be as common but are as equally environment-friendly and practical. See it below, courtesy of About.com, in the article “The Most Common Alternative Energy Sources.”
Hydroelectric power comes from the potential energy of dammed water driving a water turbine and generator. Another variation is to make use of water’s kinetic energy or undammed sources such as tidal power. Hydro power works by harnessing the gravitational descent of a river that is compressed from a long run to a single location with a dam or a flume. This creates a location where concentrated pressure and flow of water can be used to turn turbines or water wheels to drive an electric generator. Electric generators powered by hydro power can be run backwards as a motor to pump water back up for later use.
We admit that building structures or systems to be able to use these alternative energy options can be a bit expensive, but one thing is for sure though – there will be long term benefits and the fact that you are helping save the Earth for future generations is reason enough why you should contemplate on switching to one of them someday.