Thoughts, Musings and News
Five Options To Fossil Fuels
How do sustainable energy sources compare to each other? There is a variety of fossil fuel alternatives available today, with many more being developed as you read this article. Are they reliable enough to sustain us and grow with us? Here are five forms of sustainable energy and advantages of using each one.
Hydropower is water power generated by the movement of water, whether falling or flowing down a river. In ancient mills, flowing water was used to power various machines ranging from cranes to saws.
Early in the 20th century, the term hydropower started referring to generating electricity using water. Hydropower is a renewable source of power and is very reliable. Opponents to hydropower feel that the building dams and reservoirs can have negative impacts on the environment. Careful consideration must be given before these systems are actually built, causing harm to our habitat.
Geothermal energy is not something I’ve ever seen up close or in person. How about you? I learned that it is generated by tapping into the thermal energy or heat at the Earth’s core. This energy is extracted by drilling deep into the soil, then pumping in a heat transfer fluid such as water or steam.
The energy that is created is then transferred out of the ground and up to the surface where it is converted into usable power. The most effective systems are water-based systems, but they also have the potential to contaminate nearby water tables. Our water supply is very precious so great care must be taken to not damage this essential part of life.
Biofuel is made from biomass, which is biological material from living or once living organisms. This includes traditional “fossil fuels” like gasoline. There are more readily available biological materials that can be used to generate power. Wood is the largest source of biomass energy.
Other sustainable options include corn, hemp and a wide variety of different species of trees. These sources can be grown and then harvested, making them a sustainable source of fuel. There are some setbacks to biofuels. Some biomass sources have the capacity to release toxic fumes when burned, contributing to air pollution.
A very popular and well known source of alternative energy is solar power. Solar panels convert sunlight into usable direct current electricity and are currently installed in over 100 countries. It is generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. Solar panels have made huge advancements in the last several years. They can now be found in a wide variety of places, from backpacks to rooftops.
The most efficient commercially available solar panels on the market today have efficiency ratings as high as 22.5%, whereas the majority of panels range from 15% to 17% efficiency rating. With more efficient models already in production, solar power may become the world’s primary energy source in the very near future.
As of the end of 2014, the United States wind power capacity was at 65,879 megawatts. In 2013, the 168 million megawatts of energy that wind turbines produced resulted in the elimination of 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
With a rapid growth in the renewable energy projects over the past few years, the total installed capacity of the wind power plants across the world has witnessed a manifold increase. Advancements in wind turbines designs have also led a surge in the installed capacity of wind power. The top wind producing countries are China, USA, Germany, India and Spain.
Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in the entire world and it’s not hard to see why. Wind energy projects do not pollute or contaminate the surrounding area on which they are built. Not only that, a single turbine produces enough energy to power 500 households. Further, wind power installations occupy less space compared other modes of power generation, improving operational efficiencies. Best part is that turbines and wind farms can be built on agricultural lands, without causing any interruption to local habitat.
Expansion in sustainable energy technology is making energy source alternatives increasingly more viable and cost effective. With more positive outcomes and less impact on the environment, alternative sustainable energy option is our best chance for long-term, environmentally friendly energy supply.
Do you use an alternative to fossil fuels in your life? If so, please share with me what it is and how you like it. Many years ago, we had a solar hot water heater installed in our home. It paid for itself for the start. It was several thousand dollars to buy the system. The loan we had to take to pay for it made me nervous at first, but the money we saved each month was more than our monthly loan payment. Now we own the system and proudly have the solar panel on the roof services each year.
I hope you found this article valuable. Feel free to share it with someone who may find alternative energy interesting.