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What Are the Different Alternative Energy Sources?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: William Warby, n/a, Harvey Barrison, Creativenature.nl, n/a
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2018
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Alternative energy sources are those that produce energy without the damaging or harmful by-products common when burning fossil fuels. The most common alternative energy sources are wind power, hydro power, and solar power, though other types of energy sources do exist that fall under the umbrella term of alternative energy. The point of seeking out such sources is to combat conditions such as climate change, also known as global warming, and to replace energy sources that may eventually dry up or otherwise run out. Part of the problem with alternative energy sources is the ability to cultivate that energy at an affordable price.

Wind power is perhaps one of the more popular alternative energy sources. Energy can be created through the use of large wind towers that feature blades which turn in the wind. The turning blades can power an energy cell, and that power can then be transferred to the general power grid. In most cases, these wind towers need to be in wide open areas so enough wind can reach the blades; nearby residents sometimes complain about the noise created by the towers, as well as the aesthetic appeal, or lack thereof, of a wind farm. Proponents say this clean energy source is a viable option for creating high levels of energy, but the cost of transferring that energy to the power grid can be expensive.

Solar power uses the sun's rays to create energy. Like other alternative energy sources, solar power is a very clean source of energy, but again, the cost of harvesting the sun's rays can be high. Solar panels are necessary to accomplish this task, and while these panels tend to be fairly efficient, they are difficult to install properly and the materials are fairly expensive. Installing solar panels on a private residence can be cost-prohibitive, even if the system ends up saving the homeowner money in the long run. The up-front costs are usually enough to discourage homeowners.

Hydroelectric power involves the use of running water to create energy. Dams are very often built on rivers and other waterways to create alternative energy sources to power cities and towns. This is a great energy source because the flow of water is endless in most cases, but damming a river or stream can lead to ecosystem problems along the waterway. Fish and other wildlife in a river may be disrupted, and soil erosion problems are common. Dams are also expensive to build and maintain.

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nextcorrea
Post 3

What do you guys think the green cars of the future will run on? There have been several proposed ideas.

Already hybrids are popular and the technology is improving all the time. But these will always rely on some sort of fossil fuel source and will probably not make sense in the long run.

Electric cars are just now coming on to the market but the technology is expensive and so far underwhelming. And electric is not always the best source of green energy. Often that electricity is coming from polluting sources.

They have also talked about cars that run on hydrogen. This seems to make a lot of sense but who knows what the environmental consequences of manufacturing that much hydrogen are? I don't now what the cars of the future will look like but I know they will look different than they do now.

chivebasil
Post 2

They just built a big wind farm about a mile from where I live. There was a lot of controversy before it was built. People worried that it would be an eyesore or that the noise would drive people crazy. But it seems to have worked out so far.

I don't know exactly how much power it generates and I know that wind farms are not always the most efficient way to make energy. Still, I believe in renewable sources and I think this is just one of those things we are going to have to get used to. The way we get our power now has just as many consequences.

backdraft
Post 1

I think that in the long run the most viable source of renewable energy is the sun. Every day, regardless of cloud cover, tremendous amounts of energy are broadcast from the sun onto the surface of the earth.

If we can come up with advanced ways to trap, store and distribute this energy we could power the entire world cleanly, sustainably and cheaply. But to get to this bright future we will have to make serious investments in renewable energy sources. This is complicated technology and it will take many many teams of smart people working on the details to arrive at advances.

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