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Alternative Energy Sources

Mar 1, 2008
Fossil fuels, particularly coal, oil and gas are a dwindling resource. This is reflected in the price that consumers pay for their energy needs. It rises above average inflation each year and will continue to do this. Using these fuels also contributes to the environmental problems that the planet is experiencing such as acid rains and global warming. So are there any other options. Certainly there are many options, some more feasible than others. This article will detail some of the more popular alternative forms of energy.

The first alternative source of energy to discuss is solar energy. Energy from the sun has been understood and used for thousands of years. Today it is used in a sophisticated manner that can turn it into electricity to power our homes and gadgets.

Energy from the sun comes in two ways. It provides heat and light energy.

Using the heat supplied from the sun is the most obvious application of using the sun's energy. You can use it to get hot water or dry clothes or cook food. In fact, this has gone on for thousands of years.

The use of light energy is a relatively new innovation. The technology developed to do this is called the photovoltaic (PV) cell. When sunlight or the photons in sunlight hit the PV cell a reaction takes place that causes an electron to flow through the cell. Many cells and more sunlight cause more electrons to flow. This is the basis of direct current. Direct current can be used as is, stored in batteries for later use or converted to alternating current for use in homes.

Wind power appears to be capturing the popular imagination. This is due to the large amount of wind turbines that are cropping up all over the countryside. Wind turbines seem to get a mixed review. Some feel they are massive eyesores on the landscape whilst other appreciate the potential of using them to create energy.

A wind turbine is a modern and extremely more efficient wind mill. Huge blades are turned by the wind. This kinetic energy is used by a generator that makes electricity. This alternative method of energy is particularly popular in Scandinavian countries but many other European countries seem to be using them now.

Water power is another alternative source of energy. Traditionally, the building of a dam across a river has created hydroelectric power. This has problems in that it is expensive to make and you need a river. It also has environmental consequences for the surrounding region.

Wave energy is another application of water power. There are two ways to do this. Using fixed or floating applications. The idea behind wave power is that the kinetic energy in the wave can turn a generator to make electricity. The movements of the wave can directly turn the generator or they can increase and decrease the air pressure in the generator housing that turns the generator fans.

Geothermal energy is another useful alternative to fossil fuels but it is location specific. Geothermal energy is the use of heat from the Earth's core. The earth is still cooling down and it gets hotter the closer to the center you get. Areas that are volcanic have faults lines that release the heat. This can be used to heat water. The water can be used itself or transformed to steam that can power a generator for electricity.
About the Author
Get more information on solar power water heaters visit solarpowerappliances.com. You will also find solar power appliances and solar garden lighting.
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