There’s been a large push in recent years to begin investing in alternative sources of energy. Currently, the main source of energy that the world relies on is nonrenewable and unreliable. Alternative energy sources include any system that is not reliant on fossil fuels and are usually much more environmentally friendly. Although we continue to discover technological advancements on a daily basis, a study conducted by Alternative-Energies.net shows, that the most reliable alternative energy can be attributed to three main fuel sources.
Sunlight is all around us for the majority of the day every single day. Our planet is affected in almost every way by the sun’s power. The changing of the seasons, for example, is entirely dependent on each hemisphere’s proximity to the sun. In fact, most of our life on Earth is dependent upon the sun and its energy to survive. Including our all important crops which use sunlight as a form of fuel in order to grow. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the sun’s rays are the most plentiful and renewable energy source available to us.
On average, about 70% of sunlight is reflected back into space. The remaining 30% is what warms our planet and feeds our plants. Solar energy aims to collect some of that radiant energy and then convert it into other energy sources. These sources typically take the form of heating, hot water, and electricity.
Currently, we use solar photovoltaic (PV) devices, also called solar cells to turn sunlight into usable forms of energy. These devices can turn radiant solar energy directly into electricity. This electricity can then be used to power homes as needed. One of the reasons solar energy is such a great alternative energy source is that it is endlessly renewable. We will never run out of sunlight, even as the seasons change.
In addition, solar energy systems are not known to release pollutants or increase carbon dioxide emissions and building them has little to no negative impact on the surrounding environment. The devices are built to last for the long term so they will not need to be replaced frequently, limiting the amount of waste produced by manufacturing solar energy.
One only has to look toward wind-related natural disasters to understand that wind is a surprisingly powerful force of nature. Did you know that wind is actually a force that is created by the sun? Wind occurs due to the uneven heating of the air by the sun. This uneven heating happens because the Earth is made up of so many different surfaces. We don’t think much about wind on a daily basis, but it has been used as a source of energy for centuries.
For example, sailors have always used the power of the wind to travel the seas through the use of sails. In addition, windmills have been used for farming since the sixth century. Human beings have a long history of harnessing the power of the wind for their own use and modern times are no exception.
In years past, windmills were seen most frequently on family farms. A single windmill was sufficient to fulfill the family’s needs. Modern windmills, now called turbines, have gotten a significant upgrade and are seen almost exclusively within “wind farms” or fields of land dedicated exclusively to harvesting wind power.
Unlike the multiple uses of solar power, wind energy is primarily used to create electricity. However, it is a readily available resource, especially in certain areas of the world, and is known to reduce the use of fossil fuels and oil.
Our planet is comprised of 71% water. Oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams all make up the majority of Earth’s total mass. With such an abundant resource all around us, we’ve been able to create several ways to use water as a source of energy. There are four primary methods through which water can be converted into energy:
- Tidal power
- Wave power
- Ocean thermal energy conversion
Hydropower uses a combination of solar and wind power. Here’s how: Solar energy is used to create wind. A combination of heat from the sun and the movement of wind causes water to evaporate.
The evaporated water becomes snow or rain which flows into our water. This process creates energy which is then captured in the form of hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power plants are built on a water source. Turbines are used along with the moving water to turn generators which convert the energy into electricity.
Tidal power / wave power
Tidal power is similar to hydropower in that turbines and water movement are used to generate electricity. In the case of tidal power, the kinetic energy created by the changing of the tides is what is used within the generator. In a very similar process, wave power systems rely on the energy caused by ocean currents.
Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)
Another method of using the ocean as an energy source is through thermal conversion. The process utilizes the energy differences between the cold water of the deep sea and the much warmer temperatures of tropical waters. Ocean thermal energy plants use a combination of both hot and cold sea water to produce a power cycle that generates clean electricity.