The fact that the world needs alternative energy sources is no longer a secret or in need of any debate. The world is mainly powered by energy derived from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gasoline. The world is however fast depleting these resources and their supply has been inerratic leading to a steady rise in prices. Use of fossil fuels is also known to be damaging to the environment and it has become impertinent that alternative sources of energy be identified and used to reduce dependence of fossil fuels.
Alterative energy is used to describe energy sources that are not derived from splitting atoms or the burning of fossil fuels. Alternative energy is safe and is available in large quantities all around the earth. This form of energy is renewable and using or tapping into it does not affect the earth negatively in any way. This is why alternative power has always been referred to as eco friendly energy.
There are various forms of alternative energy that have been used to generate clean and safe energy. Among the many examples are wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, tidal energy, biofuel, nuclear energy and hydroelectric energy. This article aims to briefly review all these sources of alternative power energy.
Solar energy simply refers to energy derived from the sun. The energy the sun supplies to the earth yearly is 35,000 times above the total energy requirements of man. The sun is a powerful source of renewable alternative energy. A third of the sun’s energy is bounced back to space or absorbed by the earth’s outer atmosphere. Man can tap from the percentage of energy that comes down to the earth. This application is now being used as energy sources in many homes worldwide such as to heat swimming pools and homes. Solar energy is also used to power running cars, space ships and power plants.
Another example of a clean form of renewable energy that is in abundance is wind energy. This is one of the earliest forms of alternative energy used. Its application is however dependant of locations and weather. To harness the energy from the wind, wind mills have been used to generate electricity to power machines and provide electricity in homes in some remote areas around the world. Global demand for wind energy is on the rise and is estimated to increase by over 155% by 2012.
Geothermal energy is derived from the heat and high temperature of the earth’s core. Temperature at the earth’s core is constantly high at any time of the year and man has been able to tap into that heat to provide energy to heat homes, produce steam and power steam turbines.
Hydroelectric energy is another old form of renewable energy that has been developed over time. This form of energy utilizes the energy in water. It involves the damming of rivers to produce cheap forms of electricity. Hydroelectric energy is still the major sources of electricity in many countries such as Nigeria.
Tidal energy is also energy derived from water and works a bit similar to hydroelectric energy. The process involves the filling of large reservoirs with water by natural tidal movements and then slowly releasing the water through special turbines that generate electricity.
Nuclear energy used to be a highly sought after form of alternative energy as various countries and large corporation sought to perfect this form of energy. Unfortunate events such as the incident and accident at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl generated a large amount of negative feedback. Concerns about waste and safety have hindered the development of nuclear energy.
This use of Biofuels to make energy involves the use of organic materials such wood, animals and plants to generate energy. In its application, ethanol is derived from plants while methane is derived from animal waste. Ethanol and methane are then used as sources of power. Biofuels are now being used as alternative energy sources to power land vehicles. Its use is more popular in developed countries around the world.