These days more and more people talk about using alternative energy. But many people still do not understand what alternative energy means and why it is so important for us. In this blog we will provide you with more information on this topic, making difference between various type of alternative energy resources and how we can use them and look into the future of this sphere in whole.
The word “Alternative energy” is typically used interchangeably for renewable energy though it doesnot need to be renewable necessarily. It is the whole range of methods of getting perspective types of energy, which are not as widespread as traditional energy development, but they are of interest due to advantages of their usage with the lowest risk of harm to ecology.
Alternative energy resources are means, devices or facilities that can be used to get electric or any other required type of energy and replacing traditional energy sources such as oil, natural gas, coal etc. There are a few main types of alternative energy sources. These are: solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, wave power and biomass energy. All of these alternative energy sources come with their pros and cons. Let’s look through these types in short:
Solar energy is used to create electricity with the help of solar panels. As such, the idea of using solar energy to create electricity and powering our homes sounds great, but there are several cons of using solar energy and that is the reason it failed to become popular amongst general public. The biggest con is that its very costly to install a solar panel, batteries etc and usually it does not make sense unless the government in your area offers some rebates or tax cuts. Further, the sunlight itself is not very reliable especially in some areas of world where the weather usually remains cloudy. Changes in thermal conditions may cause serious restrictions to the work of solar panel system. So, meteorological factors must be taken into account before you think of installing a solar panel in your home, garden or office.
Wind Power is another type of alternative energy source, where we use kinetic energy of wind in atmosphere. Wind farms are systems which covert kinetic energy of wind into electric energy.
The production cost of energy from such farms is cheap, but their capacity is little and their efficiency depends on weather/air flow. In addition, wind farms are very noisy, so some of them are switched off at night due to objection by people living in nearby areas. Moreover, wind farms interfere in air communications and even radio waves. Wind farms cause local slackening of airflow, preventing ventilation of industrial areas and even influencing climate. Finally, wind farms require huge areas, much greater than any other power stations.
Geothermal power is the way of getting electric energy by converting thermal energy stored in the Earth. This method of getting energy is based on the fact that temperature of rocks rises with depth. In some areas, it can exceeds 100 degrees Celsius after 2-3 kilometers. This method is successful only in certain areas that are known for high thermal temperature under earth’s crust.
The cost of generating electricity from geothermal energy is usually not very high and hence it is very effective and popular way of generating electricity in certain countries.
Disadvantages of geothermal power stations are probability of local land subsidence and awakening of seismic activity. Also, the gases that come out of the Earth may contain toxic elements. Besides, the areas where one can install geothermal power plants are limited.
Wave & Tidal Power or hydropower is the way of getting electric energy by converting potential energy of waves or fast moving water into kinetic energy and directing this energy to revolve a generator axle when then produces electricity. The capacity of such power is greater when compared with wind or solar energy. Several countries that have ample water resources use this type of energy to generate electricity on large scale. Some countries construct dams to store water and then direct water to the hydro-electric plant where high pressure water runs the turbine creating electricity. In other countries, turbines are installed in sea to use the kinetic energy of tides.
The Pros of this type of energy are its capacity, efficiency, low cost, and the fact that its a renewable source of energy.
Disadvantage of such plants is that they are built only on seashores and do not perform at high capacity. Moreover, these plants are not ecologically safe. They harm the normal living conditions of local flora and fauna. They also have impact on climate, because they change energetic potential of water.
Biomass Energy is based on use of agricultural plants, wood, algae, waste etc to produce fuel for different purposes, such as heating, for instance.
As you can see every type of alternative energy has its pros and cons. The main advantage of alternative source of energy is that most of such source of energy are inexhaustible sources of energy. But we could see that not all the renewable energy power stations are friendly to nature, which is one of its cons. Further the initial cost of installation of most of these energy resources is quite high when compared to the amount of power they can generate. Most of such energy resources work only in special areas and are dependant on weather and climate factors. Their capacity is not very high when compared to traditional energy sources.
Clearly, the cons outweigh the pros and that’s the reason why such alternative methods haven’t been popular amongst people. But this does not take away the fact that these alternative energy resources are the fuels of tomorrow and mankind has to develop better ways of using this type of energy to build the world of tomorrow.