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Alternative Energy, What Is it?

Sep 10, 2008
There are many possible energy sources which are as yet underexploited. With more effort put into research and development, these sources could help us to break free of our dependence on fossil fuels and have clean, abundant energy.

One alternative is wind power. While wind power is hardly a novel idea, it is only recently that the development of wind turbines has reached the stage where they are a truly cost effective and efficient way to produce energy. May nations are building "wind farms" as a part of their energy strategy. Best of all, these are now being sited in areas where they do not pose a hazard to bird populations as has been the case in the past.

One of the best known alternative energy technologies is solar power. Energy from the sun can be stored in solar cells, where it can be used to heat water for homes or to generate electrical power. Like wind power, solar energy does not generate any pollutants.

Governments and investors are looking into the possibilities of ocean wave energy. Already successfully in use in France and in the experimental phase in Ireland and the U.K., this may prove to be a growing source of energy in the future.

Hydroelectric power is not a new technology of course, but is a very efficient and pollution free method of producing electric power. However, this is not a solution for every location since not every area can boast of a large river and dam to put this power to work. Small hydroelectric power plants have been springing up to serve regional needs however.

Geothermal energy is a promising alternative energy source; it is abundant, being right under the Earth's surface. This energy is produces by water being converted to steam by the heat of the Earth's molten core. This steam can drive electricity generating turbines. There needs to be more research done into how to best utilize this potentially great source of energy.

Waste gas energy is a novel idea which turns the usual energy/waste paradigm on its head. Methane gas, usually seen as a waste product can be used to charge fuel cells and even replace gasoline in generators.

Ethanol is a gasoline substitute sourced from plants; these sources include (most notably) corn, but can be produced from any cellulose-containing plant materials; even wood chips! There is still doubt that the extraction process can become efficient enough to really be a serious alternative to gasoline other than on a regional level, but the production process is becoming ever more efficient.

Biodiesel is a much cleaner burning alternative to petroleum based fuels and is created from plant oils such as rapeseed, soybean and sunflower oils. This is not yet produced on a large scale, but some corporations with the facilities to do so are taking notice of this relatively new technology.

Atomic energy is created through the process of nuclear fission. While a very efficient way to generate energy, concerns persist about the radioactive waste produced, which can take centuries to decay to the point where it presents no health hazard.
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