Traditional energy sources such as the burning of coal and fossil fuels are polluting our environment and speeding up the global warming process. There is no escaping that reality. That is why people have come up with several alternative energy sources that provide us with electricity, without damaging the planet and affecting our quality of life. These energy sources that we draw electricity from are entirely natural. We call them renewable because they replenish themselves without human help.
Some of the most common alternative energy sources are solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass energy. Today, we are going to talk about each of them. We will focus on how we can harness them and what are the benefits that they bring to us and to the environment. Let’s begin!
Alternative Energy Sources – Everything You Need to Know
Solar energy is one of the most used type of renewable energy in the world. It harnesses power straight from the sun, with the use of solar panels. We use it mostly to get light and heat, but also for cooking purposes. It is an incredible source of alternative energy, since the sun will always be there to provide us with it. Because it doesn’t use any type of fuel, using solar energy does not put our planet at risk in any way. There is no pollution we have to worry about, so we also lower the carbon footprint by using solar energy.
There are many other great benefits of using solar energy. For instance, you will stop paying money to the electric companies. True, you have to invest a rather large sum of money at the beginning. However, after you install the solar panels on your home, office, farm, and so on, you won’t have to worry about paying bills anymore.
Another great news is that solar panels trap energy from the sun and conserve it for days when the sun is not shining and you might run out of power. Which is why you can use solar energy during cloudy days and at nighttime as well. Plus, once you install the solar panels, they will last for about 30 years. So you know it is a long-term investment. They barely need any maintenance, yet there are so many great things you can do with solar energy. You can cook your food, create light sources for both indoors and outdoors, heat swimming pools, power your car, or even use your calculator. With so many benefits, could anyone be surprised that people are using solar energy more and more worldwide?
There are alternative energy sources that take their power from the wind as well. And we usually divide them into wind energy and offshore wind energy sources. Let’s take a look at what makes each of them incredible alternative energy sources for our planet.
Wind energy that we harness on land is quite common nowadays. We’ve all seen those impressive wind turbines while driving, right? And it’s no wonder that they’re spreading all over most countries. After all, they bring so many benefits to ourselves and the environment.
For instance, wind energy does not pollute the air. That’s because you don’t have to burn fossil fuels or coal in order to produce it. This process does not release any harmful particles into the atmosphere. So we don’t have to worry about greenhouse gases emissions or acid rain. The same goes for water pollution which normally occurs with traditional energy sources.
No mining is involved in wind energy, which means that our earth’s resources are safe. Along the same lines, we consume no extra fuel. That’s because we don’t have to transport resources to a factory where they are processed and turned into energy.
The turbines that you see all around do not take up a lot of space. This is also great news for the agriculture. People can plant crops and use entire areas for grazing cattle, without worrying that a wind turbine might interfere with their activities. Furthermore, like most alternative energy sources, this one too is free. After the initial investment, you can enjoy free electricity and use it to power your house. Even more so, if you end up producing more energy than you can consume, you can transfer it to the electric company which will give you money in the form of a credit.
Not to mention that if we are going to further develop this energy source, we are going to need a lot of specialists to take care of assembling turbines, making sure they function properly, survey the work, and so on. Which means that this alternative energy source can also provide us with job opportunities. You can install wind turbines virtually anywhere. Even in the most remote of places, where traditional energy sources have a hard time reaching.
And if you were worried that installing a wind turbine in your backyard is too big of an investment for you, you should know that you can always share the electricity. Or you can address a utilities company that will charge you to use their wind energy source.
Offshore Wind Energy
Apart from harnessing the power of the wind on land, people thought about the fact that, at sea, the wind blows much stronger. As a consequence, they came up with offshore wind energy. This is a subcategory of the most common energy sources that we can use in the present.
Even if offshore wind energy is more expensive to harness, there are plenty of advantages that we can benefit from. For instance, as we’ve already mentioned, we build wind turbines on shallow water because that is where the wind blows most furiously. Which means that we get much more energy than we normally would with a land wind turbine.
As all the other alternative energy sources, offshore wind energy also helps protect the environment. There is no air, water, land, or noise pollution. Moreover, we can take advantage of the resources without worrying they might end. Another benefit that people seem to find attractive is that they don’t have to see the turbines. Since they are installed far away at sea, there is no possibility that they would disrupt human life in any way.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you of the benefits of offshore wind energy, you should also know that according to recent studies, the wind turbines might prevent strong hurricanes and storms from hitting the land. That is because they would count as an obstacle, taking out of the storm’s strength by being so sturdy.
We continue the list of alternative energy sources with geothermal energy, which uses the earth’s heat to create electricity. The earth captures energy coming from the sun and stores it deep into its surface, or in shallow grounds. If people use these underground energy sources to heat their home, cool it, or get warm water, they won’t release any fossil fuels into the environment. Which is precisely why geothermal energy is one of the best alternative energy sources that you could use. But let’s take a look at some of its other benefits.
Firstly, there is no greenhouse gases emission. This means that we don’t contribute any further to the already accelerated process of global warming. We don’t pollute the environment in any way, because we are simply using energy that is already there. So all we have to do is extract it. Another advantage would be the fact that you can use it all year round, since it does not depend on sun or wind. You save a lot of money on electricity as well. This is great news even considering the initial investment. Overall, you will get your money’s worth in time. A geothermal energy installation can last for decades, without you worrying too much about maintenance.
Hydroelectric energy is a type of alternative energy source that uses the power of water to create energy. In fact, uses might sound like a strong word in this context. That is because the water does not actually go anywhere, it just returns to its source after it helps produce energy. We can use water that flows or falls to generate hydropower, and this is a constant process. So unless the water source runs dry, we don’t have to worry about running out of energy.
Similar to all the other alternative energy sources that we’ve discussed up until now, hydroelectric energy does not pollute the environment either. Hydropower plants are nothing like power plants that rely on burning coal or fossil fuel. They simply make use of water that is already there. Which also means that each country can do that, and stop depending on other countries for energy purposes. Once the hydropower plant is built, this energy source is extremely reliable and also affordable.
Not to mention that people can go to the water reservoir and fish, swim, or spend some time on their boats. When the situation requires it, water dams can store water for later use as well. So if there is any electricity shortage, we can always depend on hydroelectric power.
Finally, we are approaching the end of our list of alternative energy sources that we can use to help preserve the environment. And the last such energy source is biomass energy. Biomass energy is taken form organic matter, including waste, plants, and animals. This matter absorbs energy from the sun and stores it. By burning said matter, we release the energy in the form of heat. But we can also use different methods to turn it into what we call biofuel. Examples of biofuel are manure, wood chips, mulch, rotted trees, sewage, and so on.
Taking a closer look at the advantages of biomass energy, we notice that since we will never run out of waste, we will never run of this type of energy either. So we are not actively hurting our environment in any way. We also don’t release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, instead we capture the carbon dioxide and we use it for energy purposes.
By using biomass energy, we will become less dependent on traditional energy sources, such as the ones that burn coal or fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases into our environment. The whole process is not extremely expensive, since we already have the resources and they are renewable. However, we have to pay attention to constantly plant new trees, for the health of the planet and the continuous process of obtaining biomass energy.
Moreover, we all know that our planet struggles with a lot of waste that is clearly harmful. So what better way to get rid of that waste, than to turn it into an energy source? If we do that, we contribute to the health of the planet, and we also create more space for the human population.
Summing Everything Up
As we’ve managed to prove in the above guide to alternative energy sources, our planet has plenty of natural resources that can be used to create energy. Since traditional energy sources use coal and fossil fuels and release so many harmful gases and particles into the atmosphere, it comes as no surprise that our planet is sending us signal warnings that we should use alternative energy sources as often as possible. And the future of such energy sources looks great for the most part.
People already use solar energy and wind energy extensively all around the world. A great improvement to the wind energy industry were also the offshore wind turbines that create even more energy than those on land. Geothermal energy and hydroelectric energy are also two great ways of creating renewable energy, that only require an initial investment. Even though that investment might scare some people, if we put things into perspective, alternative energy sources are the future of our planet, and we should invest as much as possible into them. Furthermore, with the possibility of turning waste into energy, who wouldn’t give renewable energy a chance?