Climate change is a real thing. It’s been affecting the planet and all of our energy sources. Concerns about climate change is not a recent thing, it actually has been a concern for over 100 years. In 1896, a Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius had mentioned that using fossil fuel does some damage to the environment.
Since then, there have been many other alternative energy sources that are much better for the environment. Whether it’s solar power or hydroelectric, we’ll talk about all the alternative energy sources that are available today and what they are.
What are Alternative Energy Sources?
It’s energy that isn’t fossil fuel. It also includes all renewable sources and nuclear power.
Why are alternative energy sources important?
Alternative energy, as well as renewable energy, is extremely important because it won’t be long before we can no longer use fossil fuel as the main source of energy. Eventually using alternative energy will be mandatory for environmental reasons.
What are the most common energy sources?
Besides fossil fuel, here are the most common energy sources that is known to the world today:
- Nuclear Energy
- Natural Gas
- Tidal Energy
- Solar Energy
What countries are currently using alternative energy sources?
- Costa Rica
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
We have listed the developed countries that have alternative energy currently. There are some other countries that also does alternative energy such as:
Hydrogen gas is actually a clean burning fuel because once it’s produced, it releases just water and vapor in the air. There are some emissions when it is released as it still uses natural gas and some fossil fuel.
This is mitigated by the electrolysis process, which is needed for the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen. However, electrolysis also ranks lower than the previously listed approaches for extracting hydrogen, despite ongoing research to improve its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Advantages of Hydrogen Gas
- Burns very cleanly, it only emits water vapor and warm air
- Very abundant, not hard to find
- Renewable energy
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Gas
- Expensive since it needs specific storage to store hydrogen gas
- Very few places to refuel which is why it’s expensive
Tidal Energy is a renewable energy source from the tides/ocean. It relies on the currents of the ocean to make it into electricity that you can use. This renewable energy can be captured by tidal barrages, tidal fences and tidal stream generators.
Tidal turbines collect tidal energy in the same way as wind turbines capture wind energy. The flowing water moves the turbine’s blades as the winds and waves shift. The turbine drives an engine, which generates electricity.
Advantages of Tidal Energy
- Renewable – What’s good about tidal energy is that they never deplete so it’s a constant source of energy for years to come.
- Zero Carb Emissions – The good news is, there’s no carb emissions of greenhouse gases when it generates electricity.
- Higher power output – With tidal energy, there is a higher output and that’s because the water is so dense. This results in a tidal turbine generating significantly more energy than a single-size wind turbine. Furthermore, even at low speeds, the density of water allows it to power a turbine. As a result, even if the water conditions aren’t ideal, tidal turbines have the potential to generate large amounts of electricity.
- Predictable – It’s easy to follow the flow charts of the currents to predict how much tidal energy that can come from the currents.
Disadvantages of Tidal Energy
- Expensive – It’s very expensive to run tidal energy. The reason for this is because of the high density of water and the tidal energy turbines need to be very sturdy. Constructing a tidal barrage is very expensive since you have to build a whole concrete structure and turbines to have tidal energy. It’s why tidal energy has been one of the slowest to be adopted because of the costs.
- Energy Demand – Tidal energy does have predictable power generation, but it’s not always constant. Like, if you need power before high tide it might struggle on its own. To help maintain power throughout the day and night, sometimes a battery is used.
Biomass energy comes in different forms. As you know, burning wood has been a source of heat for thousands of years. But now, in recent years, waste and alcohol products are now being used for biomass energy too, but the primary focus is on wood.
The cost is typically lower since it’s wood and the carbon that’s released is far lower than fossil fuel, so it’s somewhat more environmentally friendly.
Advantages of Biomass Energy
- Renewable – Biomass Energy is a renewable source of energy thanks to reducing waste. It gets all of its energy from the sun so it’s a never-ending source of energy.
- Reduce Waste – As we have mentioned, biomass energy helps reduce waste. When the waste is diverted to a biomass energy plant, it is used productively vs if it sat in a landfill, harmful gases could come from it when it finally decomposes.
- Reliable – Biomass energy plants can always be turned on or off, making it a very reliable source of electricity/energy.
Disadvantages of Biomass Energy
- Expensive –It can be very expensive to run biomass energy because you’ll need biomass power plants to energy plants. Sometimes biomass is even more expensive than solar and wind. It’s heavily dependent on what type of biomass is used and how it’s converted into energy.
- Takes up lots of Space – Biomass energy plants need a lot of space. Companies that use biomass energy as their source, usually want the biomass plants near their main source of biomass. There may be a need for extra space if the organic matter will need to be grown.
Wind energy is actually a very popular form of alternative energy. You’ll see wind power farms almost all over the world and they have zero impacts on the environment.
The energy is created by the wind turbines that propels like a fan. It creates no waste and no emissions.
Advantages of Wind Energy
- Clean and Renewable – There aren’t any greenhouse gases with wind energy. It’s also completely renewable and it’ll never run out. Wind is already in the atmosphere, so there are no supply issues in the future.
- Cheaper to run- While installing wind farms or turbines are expensive, once it’s up and running, there’s little to no cost. Wind is free and turbines need little to no maintenance.
- Saves Space- It may look like that wind farms take up a lot of space, but they’re all vertical so there’s still space for other things on the land such as farming purposes.
Disadvantages of Wind Energy
- Negative impacts with surrounding environments – Wind turbines can kill birds and bats easily because of the high speeds. It can also disrupt local natural species as well.
- Noise Pollution – Wind turbines are very noisy when they are running. There’s no way to make them quiet.
- Extremely weather dependent – It’ll practically need to be windy in order for the wind turbines to win. If there’s next to no wind, the turbines will not be working.
Geothermal is extracting energy from the ground around us. When you see volcanoes erupt, that’s because of the heat that’s within the earth and the radioactive decay from the materials in the rocks. It’s been more popular in recent years.
There are actually three ways to use geothermal power which is direct heat, electricity generation and heat pumps.
This basically draws the heat out of the ground and into the cool water & air. A lot of commercial buildings use this source for their direct heating systems.
Geothermal energy may also be utilized to generate electricity. Geothermal power plants create energy by spinning turbines powered by high-temperature water or steam extracted from deep under the ground.
Sometimes heat pumps are used for the source of energy. What it does, it pumps the heat out of the ground and it can be used for heat or cool air.
Advantages of Geothermal Power
- Reliable – Geothermal power is always reliable since the temperature under the Earth is always consistent. Therefore, it’ll always be a never-ending source of energy.
- Plants have smaller footprints – The comparatively small footprint of a geothermal facility is also an advantage of geothermal power plants over alternative wind, solar and hydro power systems. This is because geothermal energy comes inside the ground, as opposed to wind, solar and hydroelectricity, and we do not have to build a gathering plant across wide areas of the earth to capture it.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Power
- Plants can’t be built anywhere –Because it’s being relied on for constant source, you can’t build a geothermal plant in New York due to not being near anywhere that has active activity in the ground (earthquakes and etc.). However, you’ll find that there are a lot of geothermal energy plants in California due to the fact that Pacific Ocean is literally called “The Ring of Fire” and the fact that California is in an active fault zone.
- Expensive – It’s extremely expensive to use geothermal energy, from building the plants and actually extracting the energy out of the earth.
Natural gas is like fossil fuel. While it does have some emissions, it’s one of the most obvious choices to use for many homes and businesses.
Natural gas collected from underneath the earth’s crust may include a variety of pollutants such as oil, carbon dioxide, sulphur, water, and nitrogen. These pollutants are typically eliminated prior to the distribution of natural gas to households and businesses which is why they’re cleaner than some fossil fuels.
Advantages of Natural Gas
- No worries about supply – Natural gas is found all over the world. There is a never-ending supply so there will never be a natural gas shortage in the future.
- Cheaper – Natural gas vehicles and other engines are far more energy-efficient – making them less expensive to operate. Since most of the engines in the world are based on gas, their conversion or replacement costs are prohibitive. The heating and cooking components in houses are the most prevalent.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
- Extremely flammable – Due to the high fuel consumption of natural gas, misuse may lead to disastrous explosions. This has prompted many to be afraid of utilizing it in cars. Natural gas is the major problem: it is odorless, and leaks are impossible to detect unless there is an addition of odorant.
- Not Renewable – Natural gas unfortunately doesn’t renew itself so that means one day it will expire just like fossil fuel. It’s not sustainable and it’s one of the energy crises that the world is facing today.
Biofuels make use of animals and plant life to create energy. From those, it can be turned into fuel that is obtained from organic matter.
Usually, you can find them in two forms, which is ethanol and biodiesel.
Ethanol may be fermented for production in any biomass that is high in carbs. Ethanol is now manufactured of carbohydrates and sugars. A technique termed gasification, where high temperatures and an atmosphere with minimal oxygen are utilized to convert biomass into gas synthesis, can also make ethanol. This synthesis gas is also called syngas and may subsequently be turned into ethanol and other fuels chemically. Ethanol may be used as a pure car fuel, but it is commonly used to raise octane and improve car emissions, as a gasoline addition. In the USA and in Brazil it is commonly used.
Biodiesel is combining methanol-based alcohol with vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking oil. Chemically, it is largely made up of fatty acid methyl esters.
Advantages of Biofuel
- Renewable – This energy source is renewable and there’s no worries about supplies in the future.
- Clean – Biofuels are cleaner and much more efficient than fossil fuels. It is considered environmentally friendly.
- Cheaper –They are simple to make with locally available materials. Biofuels are quite affordable. They are the most affordable kind of gasoline accessible everywhere in the globe.
Disadvantages of Biofuel
- Loss of Habitat – Land would be lost due to cultivation for Biofuel production. This means plants and animals suffer due to lack of natural habitat.
- Has higher Nitric Oxide output – Although there is insufficient carbon dioxide emissions to induce the greenhouse effect, the combustion of materials to make biofuels releases enough nitrous oxide to induce the greenhouse effect.
Wave energy is very similar to tidal energy except wave energy converters can actually be placed in the ocean. There is no waste produced and it’s extremely reliable. It is relatively new so there is still not a lot of information about this energy.
Wave energy produces electricity by using natural forces of water in the ocean. Wave energy plants harness this power by using a buoy system. The buoy system pushes the water up to the surface, into a generator, usually turbine or wave energy converters. The movement of the wave energy converter is what creates electricity, then it’s sent to the power grid vs power lines.
Advantages of Wave Energy
- Renewable –Because water is here to stay forever, it’s guaranteed to be around forever. It’s a reliable and renewable source of energy for the future.
- Zero Emissions –There is on greenhouse gases or carbon emissions from wave energy. It is 100% completely clean.
- Reliable –Because it’s based in the water, it’s 100% reliable energy that can be counted on without any weather or environmental issues.
Disadvantages of Wave Energy
- High costs – Because these plants would be immersed in continually flowing salt water, maintenance is expected to be prohibitively expensive. Because frequent movement can cause further breaking, wave energy facilities will almost certainly require regular (and expensive) repair.
- Some environmental concerns –Because everything is set on the water/beach, there may be some harm done to marine life and the habitat in the water.
This is energy that is generated from water. It comes in many different forms such as running of the river using wave energy. It is one of the oldest renewable energy sources out there.
Hydroelectric energy works by using spinning turbines. For example, a hydroelectric plant brings in flowing water through a pipe that funnels the water to the turbines. The flowing water then forces the turbines to spin the generator and electricity then becomes viable.
Advantages of Hydroelectric Energy
- Renewable – It is renewable because it uses water as the main source of energy.
- Can pair well with other renewables –When solar and wind power doesn’t have the energy at the moment to power, hydroelectric energy can step in because it will almost always have stored water to provide electricity to those renewable sources.
- Hydroelectricity can always meet peak demand – This means that you can use the power whenever you want with hydroelectricity as it is always working. Unless something goes wrong with the hydroelectricity plants, think of it like a 24/7 source of energy to those sources. But unless there is a drought or something that disrupts hydropower, it is a reliable source of energy that can provide energy to other renewable sources.
Disadvantages of Hydroelectric Energy
- Expensive – Building and maintaining a hydroelectricity is extremely expensive.
- Relies on no droughts –Sometimes there is a drought and that is when it may not work when it should be. That’s the only time when electricity may be scarce, otherwise it’s a never-ending source of energy.
This is one of the most abundant forms of energy in the world.
Nuclear energy works by breaking it down in three steps. They are:
- Split atoms in chain reaction
- Heat water and create steam
- The steam then spins the turbine and now electricity is created
Advantages of Nuclear Power
- Reliable – Nuclear power is very reliable.
- Doesn’t take up a lot of space –Unlike wind or solar farms, it actually doesn’t take up a lot of space.
- Carbon free- There is no carbon dioxide from nuclear energy which is good for environmental reasons.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- Nonrenewable – Uranium is not renewable. There’s only a limited amount so while it burns clean, it is not a renewable source of energy.
- Expensive –Upfront costs for maintaining the nuclear plant and nuclear reactors are typically very expensive.
Solar power is, of course, powered by the sun. It is one of the most common alternative energies that the world knows today.
Solar power derives power from the sun, and it transfers on the solar panels or batteries. The electricity now generated and ready to be used for buildings, homes and whichever solar energy should be used.
Advantages of Solar Power
- Lowers electricity bills – Because you’re not using your own electricity and basically using the sun for power, it will lower your electricity bills significantly.
- Reduces carbon emissions – Solar power is a clean, renewable source of energy that will provide power for as long as you need solar power for.
- More control over energy costs – With the rising energy costs, you’ll save a significant amount of money when you have solar energy that runs through your home.
The disadvantage of Solar Power
- Doesn’t work for every type of roof –Some roofs on homes are not equipped to have solar panels on them. Solar panels are mantled on a mount on an angle usually.
Alternative energy sources are important to know about because one day, some of them may not be around. That’s why it seems today people are constantly looking for new sources of energy. Whether it’s wave energy or nuclear energy, the most important thing about them is if they’re renewable so that it’ll be around in the future, since there is a short supply of fossil fuel. If you feel that there’s more alternative energy sources or have questions, please let us know below!