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Overview and Benefits of Alternative Energy

Aug 9, 2008
The world's reliance on oil is staggering, and it seems that new predictions for when we will run out of petroleum are popping up every day. World governments are moving to start drilling in new places, in a desperate attempt to secure more black gold. Oil is used for a variety of products, including fuel, which is the number one commodity that people associate oil with.

If we are to survive as a species, it is integral that we embrace the number of alternative fuels that are sitting before us. Even if one alone is not enough to wean us off oil, it is surely possible that together, we can replace oil once and for all, at least in terms of fuel.

There are innumerable benefits to embracing alternative fuels, and very few negatives. In fact, the only arguably bad thing about alternative fuels is that they ultimately decrease the profits of oil companies, although most people do not care about that. Petroleum based fuels are known to release greenhouse gases and harmful pollutants in to the air. Over time, greenhouse gases have been shown to accelerate global warming, and the dirtier the air is, the unhealthier we are. By taking advantage of alternative fuels, we can reverse these downward trends, stop global warming, and make air completely safe to breathe again.

Proponents of oil say that our economy would be extremely damaged by our disposal of traditional fossil fuels. It seems, however, that the onset of alternative fuels will actually be beneficial to our economy. Companies that research and provide alternative energy are popping up at an increasing rate, creating jobs and stimulating the economy. If alternative fuels were supported more heavily, additional companies could enter the market and continue to innovate.

Solar power is the process of converting the sun's rays in to energy. The vast majority of sunlight which strikes the Earth is left unabsorbed, so we might as well try to take as much as we can get. Solar energy is produced through the application of solar cells, and several solar cells put together form solar panels. The solar cells convert sunlight in to direct current energy through the photoelectric effect. When light hits the surface of the cell, electrons are released, and they are harnessed in to usable electricity. Solar engineers are currently trying to develop more efficient and effective solar cells, so that we may one day be able to rely on them for the majority of our appliances.

Wind energy uses the power of the wind to generate electricity. Wind is converted in to electricity through the utilization of wind turbines, which have taken on a thin, three bladed shape in modern times. Currently, wind power supplies one percent of the world's electricity needs, although with coming advancements in wind technology and the expansion of the industry, that number could rise substantially in the next few years.

Hydroelectric power is the most used form of alternative energy, supplying nineteen percent of the world's electricity. It is generated by the potential energy of falling water, which powers a water turbine and generator. Large dams have been constructed solely for the purpose of creating this kind of energy, and due to the continuous flow of water, hydroelectricity has proven to be quite effective. Like other renewable energy sources, there remains a lot of untapped potential in this field.
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