What is Alternative Energy?
There is a lot of energy that can be harnessed if we only seek to research and develop the technologies needed to do so. We can get away from the fossil fuels and the old electrical grids by turning to alternatives to these energy sources.
One of these alternative energy resources is wind power. Wind turbines continue to be developed that are progressively more energy efficient and less costly. “Wind farms” have been springing up all over the world lately.
Another alternative energy resource is the one that is most well known: solar energy. This involves the manufacturing of solar cells which use the energy given off by the sun to generate electricity. The heat radiated by the sun can also be utilized to produce hot water. As with wind energy, solar energy creates absolutely zero pollution.
Ocean wave energy is seen by governments and investors as having enormous energy generating potential. A generator in France has been in operation for many years now and is considered to be a great success. The Irish and Scots are also running experimental facilities.
Hydroelectric power has been with us for a while and where it is set up, it is a powerful generator of electricity without pollution. However, there are limitations to the availability of the right places to set up a large dam. Many run-of-the-river, or small and localized, hydroelectric generators have been set up due to this limitation.
Geothermal energy is extremely abundant, since it lies directly beneath our feet, just a few miles below the earth’s surface. This energy is produced by the heating of water through the actions of earth’s hot molten core. The water turns to steam, which can be harnessed and used to drive turbine engines, which in turn generate electricity. Great amounts of research and development is put into geothermal energy tapping.
Waste gas energies, which are essentially methane, reverse the usual energy-pollution relationship by creating energy from waste that lies in the dumps and from some air pollutants. This gas is used in fuel cells and can be used in standard gasoline generators.
Ethanol is a gasoline substitute and is created from such things as wheat, sugarcane, grapes, strawberries, corn, wood chips and wood cellulose. There is controversy over this fuel with regards to it ever becoming truly economical or practical except in localized areas, but technologies for its extraction and admixturing are continuously being refined.
Biodiesel energy is created out of the oils contained in plants. So far, the commercial stores of biodiesel have been created using soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils. Biodiesel is typically produced by entrepreneurial minded individuals or those who want to experiment with alternative energy, but commercial interest from companies is on the rise. It burns much cleaner than oil-based diesel.
Atomic energy is created in atomic energy plants using the process of nuclear fission. This energy is extremely efficient and can generate huge amounts of power. There is concern from some people about what to do with the relatively small amount of waste product atomic energy gives off, since it is radioactive and takes hundreds of years to decay into harmlessness.