Alternative energy-It’s not a dirty word, although Exxon, BP, and anyone who makes a profit off the high cost of fossil fuels would like you to believe different. Fossil fuels are over 275-million-years-old; it’s time to retire the popular, but toxic resources for more environmental-friendly resources.
As of 2012, three main forms of carbon, coal, oil, and natural gas provided 87 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. Armed with better knowledge of the true cost of burning fossil fuels, world leaders are realizing the importance of alternative energy. Another reason for change is the reduction in the world’s oil supply. Sure, there are still many deposits around the world, however, they are depleting at a record speed. The math is simple: at the current rate of consumption, the wells will run dry in less than a century.
These fuels take millions of years to form, so cultivating them isn’t possible. Unless the world reduces its dependence on them, they will be gone forever. Despite a slow start, the trend is catching. Experts estimate renewable energies will provide close to 25 percent of the world’s power by 2035, but that’s a low estimate. The research doesn’t include the world reaction to the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Similar to Chernobyl, the nuclear fallout that followed the devastating earthquake is responsible for numerous nations and other groups pushing for the end of nuclear power. Unbelievably, fossil fuels are more harmful than nuclear power. This is fueling the push for alternative and renewable energy. Why spend billions harming the world when you can harness the energy from natural, renewable sources like the sun, wind, rivers, and oceans?
10. Wind Power
Wind is natural. Wind isn’t going away anytime soon. The wind won’t deplete the ozone. No one owns the wind. Another interesting factor about wind, there’s nothing new about using it to give the average human being a hand. Before modern electricity prevailed, wooden windmills pumped water, assisted miners, and ground grains. In spite of this knowledge, wind power didn’t come into play until the 1980s, when California launched the first wind farms.
Still leading the U.S., the sunny state is operating 13,000 wind tunnels in 2014. The simple, three-blade rotation system can be small, under 100-kW or directly connected to a home or business, or utility-scale, 100-kW or higher, connected to the electrical grid. Another type of wind turbine that is increasing in usage is offshore wind farms. Offshore wind farms collect winds that flow over the oceans and work similar to onshore wind turbines. Wind farming allows power distribution to stay local, creates high-paying jobs, and is the cheapest alternative energy source at 5-cents per kWh as of 2014. Another plus for the power of the wind, it uses no water, conserving another vital element that won’t last forever.
9. Hydro-electric Power
Hydroelectric power is very popular across the world, with several countries serving over 75 percent of their population through the clean, efficient, and inexpensive power source.
The Itaipu Dam in Paraguay provides 90 percent of their country and almost 20 percent of Brazil’s power. Water turbines power 10 percent of the world’s power and that number can increase. The first major hydroelectric power plant opened at the Niagara Falls on the U.S.-Canadian border in 1879. Dams provide more than clean electricity; the water reserves provide water for surrounding areas and flood control.
Current hydroelectric power plants cost less than half that of solar panels and three times less than the cost of solar thermal power. To date, they are the most efficient power source in use. Coal and gas power plants operate at 50 percent on a good day; hydroelectric plants have a 90 percent efficiency rate with all unused water returning to the reserve.
8. Solar Power
Solar energy isn’t new, Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure built the first thermal powered device in 1767. The heat collected heated water for bathing and cooking. Clarence Kemp patented the first solar water heater in 1891. The oil shortages during the 1970s propelled alternative energy research.
Despite lower prices in the following two decades, the research continued and it paid off. In 2014, the cost of solar power is 99 percent less than it was in 1977, making it a viable option in ending dependence on fossil fuels. Today’s solar panels have no movable parts to break, require little maintenance, providing a 20 to 30-year lifespan. The cost of solar installations will decrease by half over the next several years. Solar windows, roofs, walls, roads, cars, planes, boats, trains, and battery storage containers will power the future.
Bio-energy is an energy source derived from biological organisms. The organisms must be living or recently alive, which separates from fossil fuels. Plants start the process through photosynthesis, direct absorption of the sun’s energy. Animals that eat the plants gain the energy through eating the plants.
This organic energy is biomass and biomass is a source of renewable, clean energy you can store and reuse. Liquid biofuels are already being widely used around the world. Two of those biofuels are ethanol and bio-diesel, which fuel gasoline automobiles after a simple modification. Solid biofuel comes from agricultural byproducts like corn stalks, rice hulls, and other compatible plant matter. Biofuel reduces agricultural waste, provides sustainable, and safe energy for vehicles, electricity, and heat.
6. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy comes from the Earth’s core, which burns 4,000 feet below the surface. Scientists estimate the temperature at the core exceeds 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The rock layers of the earth conduct the heat, which is where magma forms. This is where geothermal energy comes from, and like solar energy, its lifetime will last long after all the fossil fuels are gone.
Geothermal may sound new, but consider the famous hot springs around the world. They are a direct example of geothermal heating, which is 100 percent natural! In 2010, Iceland’s five geothermal plants accounted for 25 percent of the country’s electricity consumption. To generate electricity, a mile or deeper well extends into the steam and hot water pockets in the earth’s crust. The wells or pipes transport the steam and hot water into turbines that generate electricity.
5. Tidal Energy
Tidal turbines use the powerful polar force of the tides to generate electricity. This includes both coastal and underwater currents. Because it requires strong tides, there are fewer areas to capture this energy. However, what it lacks in location it makes up in predictability. Solar and wind energy are dependent on weather and seasons. It’s impossible to determine how much a given area will receive at any point in time. Underwater currents flow through seawater turbines, providing a less-unsightly view of oceans and coastlines.
4. Wave Power
The ocean’s waterpower isn’t limited to the coasts and below the service, as any surfer will attest that waves are more than powerful enough to do the job. Waves form when wind blows over a body of water’s surface. Wave farms take up large tracks of the ocean’s surface, limiting how much power they can produce.
Attenuators are long, floating devices used to extract the energy from the waves and large cables transfer the power to either an on or offshore storage facility. In 2008, Portugal tested the first offshore wave farm, located three miles off the country’s shoreline.
3. Hydrogen Power
Hydrogen power does more than power vehicles; it can also power a nation. Hydrogen is chemical extracted from fossil fuels, but it doesn’t require releasing fumes into the ozone. Gasification is used to break down the chemicals in a safe method, which in return creates a clean burning fuel source.
Current hydrogen power plants use a mix between renewable and fossil fuels. Coal, natural gas, and similar elements are used to power the powerful turbine required to create the clean energy. Developments in 2012 with an alternative solar powered turbine will eliminate the need for any power that burns the fuels.
2. Solar, Wind and Biofuel Farms
Solar, wind, and bio-energy together in one location, will maximize the energy output while fully utilizing the large tracks of land used for alternative energy harvesting. Solar and wind is already being used, and in 2014 experts began contemplating adding biofuel farming into the mix. The combination of these renewable resources increases the output of facilities by giving different options. Wind and solar power are limited to windy, sunny weather. Certain plants used for biofuel require little water, when planted around solar panels they reduce the fine soil that plagues the areas surrounding solar panels. The water spraying system that keeps the panels will run off, providing water for the plants.
1. Kinetic Energy
Human beings generate energy through motion. If you’ve ever pedaled a bicycle, you produced kinetic energy. Before jumping on how little power or how much resistance it takes to create such a small amount of power, think little. Green fitness centers are catching around the world, with owners taking all the kinetic energy people create with cardio equipment and using it to provide power to that equipment. Special floor tiles that capture the energy of people walking over them-imagine a shopping mall during Christmas time using kinetic energy to power lights, water fountains, and other areas with a single power requirement.