Although they’re still the main source of energy for our modern society, fossil fuels are increasingly viewed with disfavour. Non-renewable and negatively impacting the environment, they’re an unsustainable option moving forwards, which means that scientists are increasingly turning to alternatives to take their place.
As a result, some truly fascinating solutions are surfacing. Although we’re all familiar with wind energy, tidal, solar, and geothermal power as renewable energy sources, here are a few others you might not have heard of…
#1: Algal Biofuels
It’s an obvious solution when you think about it. Plants convert sunlight into energy, so if you want to develop them into a biofuel, you need one that can be grown in vast quantities, which makes algae a perfect candidate. Already seized upon by scientists at the Advanced Algal System Program, it’s potential as the future of renewable energy is a work in progress.
In a similar way to algal biofuels, helioculture also utilises photosynthetic organisms. It works by combining brackish water with the aforementioned ingredient, carbon dioxide, and nutrients, which are left out in the sun to develop. This leads to the creation of hydrocarbons that can be used for fuel – no refining necessary.
One slightly less pleasant candidate for renewable energy source is sewage. Ironically, our bodily waste can help to reduce waste. When used in bio-electrochemical systems, it generates significant amounts of power, which is why Norway uses it to fuel the bus system in Oslo.
#4: Solar Wind
You’ve probably heard of both solar power and wind as energy sources, but solar wind could be more promising than either of the two used in isolation. Should it be further developed, this special source would have to be harvested in a very interesting way: by using a satellite with a long copper wire and ‘sail’ attached. This would transmit the energy gathered from space to earth via an infra-red laser beam – all very sci-fi!
Scientists also suggest that evaporation may one day be utilised as an energy source. By harnessing the difference in electrical properties between air and water, they imagine that power may be generated and thus use. The development of such a technique is still very much a work in progress, but it certainly offers an exciting prospect for the future.
For now, however, most of us will have to stick to the green energy sources that we’re more familiar with. Luckily, specialist companies like OVO Energy make it incredibly easy for us to access them, allowing us each to play our part in keeping the environment as healthy as we can.