Alternative energy is a form of any renewable energy sources that is an alternative to conventional energy sources such as fossil fuels. The transition from conventional energy sources to renewable energy is very important for the following reasons:
- Renewable energy sources have a very important role in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere (a significant factor in global warming.).
- All renewable energy sources affect the sustainability of energy systems, and they reduce dependence on imports of energy raw materials and electricity.
- It is expected that many renewable energy sources will become economically competitive with conventional sources of energy in the medium to long term.
The most common types of alternative energy sources on Earth are: wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy, biomass and biofuels. Each of these energy sources requires special and different technology to use, but all technologies are based on the production of thermal or electric energy. In the text below, you can find out more about alternative energy sources and their pros and cons.
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of the air flow, i.e., it is the movement of air caused by uneven heating of the Earth’s surface by the Sun. It is considered that less than 3% of solar energy that reaches the Earth turns into the wind. The wind power farms (group of wind turbines) are used for the conversion of wind energy into electricity. According to their locations, there are offshore and onshore wind farm.
Pros of wind power energy:
- Wind energy produces no pollution that can contaminate our environment
- Since it is a renewable energy, we will never run out of this energy source
- The land between the wind turbines can be used for farming, grazing and other purpose
Cons of wind energy
- Wind speed is intermittent – it needs to be constant for continuous energy generation
- Big wind farms can have a negative effect on the landscape
Solar energy is the main form of alternative energy on our planet. Solar panels (collectors) absorb sunlight and convert it into heat (space or water heating) or directly into electricity. For the production of large amounts of electricity, there are solar power plants that consist of a large number of solar panels in one place.
- It is renewable and inexhaustible energy source
- No air or water pollution
- Wide application in many solar devices
- Impossible energy production when the sun don’t shine
- Solar plants are very expensive to build
Geothermal energy is heat energy stored in the fluids and rock masses in the Earth’s crust. This alternative energy is used to drive turbines in geothermal power plants.
- No harmful gases if plants done correctly
- Once a geothermal power plants are built, they are self-sufficient energy wise
- Geothermal plants are usually small and they have little effect on the landscape
- If done incorrectly, geothermal plants can produce pollutants
- The release of hazardous gases in case of improper drilling of earth
Pros: continuous electricity production, full capacity, no waste or pollution and water used for hydroelectricity can be reused.
Cons: there needs to be a power supply of water and dams are very expensive to build