Why do we require alternative energy sources? Use of such sources safeguards a nation against rising fuel prices, reduces dependence on other countries for oil supply, limits consumption of nonrenewable sources of energy like oil, coal, etc., and most importantly, lessens environmental pollution and counters the negative effects on natural resources like water, air, forests, etc. Needless to say, increase in the use of alternative energy sources will make way for the creation of new jobs thus, promote economic development.
Sources of Alternative Energy
The process of controlled nuclear reactions that is applied to harness the nuclear power, tops the renewable energy sources list. The process applied here is known as nuclear fission. The nuclear power plants, with the aid of nuclear reactors, heat water to produce steam, which is then transformed into mechanical work to generate electricity. Survey conducted in the year 2007, showed that about 14% of the world's supply of electricity was made possible by harnessing nuclear power.
Living and dead biological matter are referred to as biomass, and they are used as a source of fuel or for industrial production. Living plants, dead tress and branches, wood chips, yard clippings are also considered to be a part of biomass. About 0.5 of the electricity in the United Sates, comes from the biomass source of energy.
Compressed Natural Gas
Coming down to the third, it is Compressed Natural Gas. As the name suggests, this product is made by compressing natural gas. It cannot be denied that its use does emit greenhouse gases, but it is still a far cleaner and safer option than other fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or propane fuel.
Cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly, collectively define geothermal energy/power. It is an appreciably efficient way to extract renewable energy provided by the earth. The use of geothermal power can be dated back to the ancient Roman times. Then, it was popular for space heating and bathing. Now, however, thanks to the ever-increasing development in science, it is widely utilized for the generation of electricity, without posing any threat to the environment. Around 24 countries are involved in the generation of geothermal electricity.
Everyone is aware of hydroelectricity; perhaps, the most popular source of alternative energy. Gravitational force of falling water from a certain height is converted into mechanical energy for the generation of electricity. Not only the source itself is environmental friendly, but even the project of setting up a hydroelectricity plant lacks the production of direct waste.
Taking it down to the sixth name, we have with us the wind power. Wind turbines transform wind energy into electricity or mechanical forms of energy. These energy sources are set up in wind farms. Records say that about 1.5% of the world's electricity is produced by wind power. Although the figure is quite less, the prospect is bright, given to its progress which has doubled in three years between 2005 and 2008.
It is for certain that you must be knowing what is solar power. It is one of the popular energy sources, given the rapid development in the technologies to harness it. Unlike earlier times, solar cells are now easily transportable, and more efficient. Places which receive maximum sunlight are the ones which can harness the benefit of solar energy to the fullest.
As the name suggests, wave power is the energy captured from ocean surface waves, and put to use to generate electricity and for other useful work. This technology, although holds immense potential, is not widely used. The major hurdle in widening its use is the negative impact that it would have on the marine environment. Wave farms are set up for harnessing this power, and this very factor can disturb the socio-economic balance of the region. As obvious as it is, such settings may easily keep commercial fishing off rich fishing grounds thus, affecting the natural setting of the area.
Narrowing it down to the last name, it is the tidal power (tidal energy). Similar to the case of wave power, even this one is not yet widely used. However, experts see it as a promising source of alternative energy of the future. One reason that led scientists to forecast the potential of this source is that tides provide better scope in the predictability factor, unlike solar and wind energy. One of the main factors that keep this technology from getting harnessed fully is its high cost, and poor availability in sites with high tidal power. There are mainly two ways which are put to use to generate tidal power. One method makes use of tidal stream generators. These machines harness the kinetic energy of moving water to power turbines. Then there is the technology of tidal barrage. This one helps in capturing the potential energy that exists in the difference between high and low tides.
The time is not far when the last drop of oil on this earth would meet its demise. The disaster that it would cause for mankind, is unimaginable? It is time we realized and knew about why conserving energy is so important? It is practically not possible to stop the use of the nonrenewable sources of energy, but it is, to use them wisely and only when required. And another way to lengthen the distance between mankind and the approaching disaster is to appreciate the importance and the use of alternative sources of energy.