The search for alternative energy sources is an ongoing one. With worldwide supplies of petroleum, coal, and natural gas on the decline, it is imperative that we rely on other sources of power. Luckily, scientists and engineers have already spent many years developing technologies to harness the energies provided by other natural resources. The following alternative sources of power all have the potential to permanently replace our current primary source, fossil fuels.
Wind has enough kinetic energy to supply the entire world with power, but we’ve only begun to understand its usefulness. Wind turbines are typically built with very large propeller blades on high, open ground. Gusts of wind spin the blades to create an electric current that powers an electric generator.
Wind is one of the cleanest renewable resources available, and it’s free. No money or manpower is needed to gain access to wind, and turbine construction is relatively inexpensive. Wind will always be around, and therefore it is one of the smartest alternative sources of energy currently available.
The sun’s rays have provided humans with sight and warmth throughout history, but those rays can do even more. Solar energy can be collected using photovoltaic cells arranged onto panels of varying sizes. In fact, solar panels are currently used in the construction of many homes, commercial buildings, concept cars, and other structures and devices to collect sun energy as a primary or secondary power source.
Solar power is arguably the most powerful and abundant alternative energy. Sunlight is infinite in supply, completely free, and eco-friendly. Unlike fossil fuels, generating solar power does not create any by-products that are harmful to the environment. The cost of making solar cells is now about a thirtieth of what it was in the 1970s, so mass production is becoming more of a reality. Solar panels are becoming very affordable for most homeowners, and it is the preferred source of power in certain areas of the world.
Today, hydroelectric plants can be found all over the world, and manipulation of water movement is now considered to be the most efficient way to create energy. Like wind and solar alternatives, hydropower is inexpensive, very safe for the environment, and considered to be renewable when produced by smaller plants. Hydroelectric plants have average lifespans of 50 to 100 years, and they are “long-term investments that can benefit various generations.” Dams and reservoirs also create a water supply, allow for flood control and irrigation, form locations for recreational water activities, and bring in money as tourist attractions.
Biomass energy comes from living things, particularly plant materials. Energy can be obtained from paper trash, sawdust, yard trimmings, vegetable oils, and more, using the processes of fermentation, gasification, or cogeneration. In the United States, biomass energy only makes up for about 4 percent of our total energy consumption, but there is so much more available for use if we invest more in biomass technology. Using more biomass would reduce military costs for obtaining foreign oil, open up many domestic jobs, and reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, biomass hasn’t caught on as a viable source of energy like wind or water, but we will surely see it used on a larger scale in the future.
Ever since physicists discovered that breaking element bonds creates energy, nuclear power plants have popped up all across the globe. Supporters of this alternative energy claim that its production does not pollute, that it can be created at many times the rate of other alternative energies, and that opening up nuclear plants creates many stable, high-paying jobs. However, there are some major downsides as well.
First, nuclear energy is non-renewable. The radioactive substances needed are not only rare, they’re also very hazardous to all living things. Mining for them destroys natural habitats and is very expensive. Nuclear power plants are also very expensive to build and maintain, and their instability can cause meltdowns that result in mass loss of life. Currently, nuclear power is not favored as an alternative energy in most nations.
This article was provided by Samantha Greenbaum, earth-friendly mother of two and avid weekend hiker. If you’re looking for alternative energy providers for electricity in Houston, Samantha recommends Tara Energy who offer flexible, customizable energy services.