Alternative Power Sources
The first half of this article can be found here:
- Solar Energy: the most available form of renewable energy on earth, solar energy is harnessed by use of photovoltaic cells or heat engines, and indeed has an impact on most other forms of energy. Natural gas, biofuels, the wind, rivers, etc are all affected by heat and the sun’s energy. To learn more about solar power, click here.
- Wind Energy: this is currently the most developed renewable energy form, producing about 1.5% of worldwide electricity. The most common way of creating energy from the wind is through the use of giant wind turbines, which can now be found all over the world. To learn more about wind power, click here.
- Hydroelectricity: this term is generally used to refer to energy produced as a result of the force of moving water. Energy is created as dammed up water flows through a hydro-electric dam, where it spins a turbine which in turn drives a generator. Hydroelectricity accounts for 20% of the worlds electricity. Related to this is “Tidal Power”, which converts the energy of tides into usable electricity, and is much more predictable than wind or solar energy. Similarly, “Wave Power” can be used to convert the raw energy of ocean waves and currents into electricity.
- Geothermal Power: geothermal energy is a result of millions of years of energy build up deep within the earth (and from solar energy absorbed on the surface). Through the use of geothermal generators, this heat has been extracted as power. Although its applications have so far been limited (geothermal plants need to be located near tectonic plate boundaries), recent technologies have expanded the range in which this resource can be harnessed.
- Biofuel: defined as any fuel obtained from living or recently lifeless biological material, biofuels are most commonly used as a power source for vehicles, but can also be used to heat homes or for cooking. Ethanol is among the most common biofuels, and can be found at gas pumps all over the world, particularly in Brazil.