Alternative energy is a term that is used to describe any energy source that is not comprised of fossil fuels. Many alternative energy sources require fossil fuels to create the opportunity to collect cleaner energy, but the net use is often lower than if fossil fuels are being burned. Here are the six most popular types of alternative energy sources that are being explored right now.
1. Solar Energy
There is enough solar energy provided to our planet every day that it could power all of our needs for an entire year. This is why this alternative energy source is seeing a tremendous level of investment and growth right now.
2. Wind Power
We have often harnessed the power of the wind to meet our needs. Today we use wind power to rotate turbines in order to generate electricity. Onshore and offshore wind turbines create efficiencies of nearly 50% and plans are in the works to begin installing 20 megawatt turbines in some offshore locations.
The power of falling water can also create an alternative energy source as it turns turbines as well. Many nations rely on hydroelectricity as their primary source of energy creation.
This alternative energy source has a lot of pros and cons that must be carefully considered. For starters, the burning of organic materials adds particulates and carbon to the atmosphere just like burning coal or fossil fuels does. The goal is to create sustainable processes that can create plant growth that neutralizes the carbon produced, but technologies are not currently available to do this.
Tapping the heat from underneath our feet is another method of creating energy that has shown to be quite efficient. Water is heated by the natural heat of the planet and this creates steam to rotate turbines. Several additional methods of power generation are also available with this technology. Identifying top geothermal locations and creating a power grid to distribute this energy are our current challenges.
Hydrogen fuel cells can be used for backup power, batteries, and even transportation needs. The benefit of this alternative energy source is that its primary byproduct is just water. Cost is one of the primary challenges this energy source faces, as well as its long-term durability.
There are many types of alternative energy sources that are available to us today. Over time, these may all work together to help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in future generations.