What will be the fuel source when natural gas runs low? Will there be?
Alternative energy sources are currently capable of maintaining our current level of energy output. Types of energy sources include biomass, wind, solar, hydro, tidal wave and geothermal energy. Alternative energy is defined as source of energy not including fossil fuels. The advantages of alternative fuels sources are compared to fossil fuels they create less greenhouse gases and produce less and in many cases no pollution.
Solar power utilizes reflective surfaces to collect the suns light and heat energy to drive a generator which produces energy. Solar energy is free nonpolluting and abundant which makes it a great source of energy when fossil fuels run low. The disadvantage of solar energy is it is expensive to collect and sun doesn’t always shine the amount needed to run machinery and energy can not be made at night and must be stored during the daytime. (Advameg Inc 2007). The panels that collect solar energy are made of photovoltaic cells which capture light and covert it directly into energy. (Llia Brouchkov October 3rd 2006)
Wind energy uses wind which turns blades on a windmill which in turn rotates a shaft which is connected to a generator to produce electricity. The size of the windmills blades and the speed of the wind determine the amount of energy produced. Wind energy like solar energy is free, nonpolluting and produces no emissions or chemical byproducts. Wind energy is gaining popularity because of the low cost and availability almost anywhere. (United states Department of Energy).
The best location for windmills is offshore or atop a large hill. (Llia Brouchkov October 3rd 2006)
Hydro electrical energy can produce enough energy just in the United States to power 28 million homes which can be compared to using 500 million barrels of oil which is non-renewable and hydro electrical energy is an endless source as long as you have a available source of running water. Hydro power is harnessed using a turbine that spines and water is passed through it and then spins a shaft which powers a generator. (Llia Brouchkov October 3rd 2006) The power is then stored and used across the world in millions of households. Hydro electric energy supplies 19% of the worlds energy and is up 3% from 2003 and is gaining popularity because of it versatility in were it can be produced. Dams, river deltas and any source of running water can produce hydro electric energy. The kinetic energy of running water is what produces the turbine to spin which creates the energy.
Tidal energy a form of hydro energy utilizes the moons tides to harness energy created by the rise and fall of tides. Unlike many other alternative energies tidal energy is not widely used but is more reliable then wind and solar energy. The gravitational pull of the earth, sun and moon is what cause the tides to rise which is harnessed using floating buoys take the up and down motion and covert it to electric energy. The downside of tidal energy is for it to be effective the difference in high and low tides must be at least 20 feet. ((U.S. Energy Information Administration) & (Advameg Inc 2007)). There are limited areas of the world where this ratio occurs. Tidal electricity is currently being produced in Russia, China, France and Canada. (United States Department of Energy).
Utilizing the oceans energy is crucial because oceans cover more then 70% of the world and is emission free. The way the energy is produced is by reservoirs filling and then slowly exiting through a turbine producing energy.
Biomass is the use of renewable resources to harness energy from organic material, such as wood, forest and mill wastes. Biomass energy can also utilize animal waste, agricultural crops and sea life. Whatever the fuel is it is used to heat water to produce steam and can also be made into gases and liquids which can also be used. (Advameg Inc 2007) Biomass is the fastest growing source of renewable energy source in the United States and is predicted to increase by four and a half times and be a large source of energy. Biomass has lower production costs then fossil fuels which can be used to create more energy then traditional fossil fuels such as coal or oil. (Advameg Inc 2007)
Geothermal energy is produced using the naturally occurring heat generated within the earth. Naturally occurring heat is used by drilling into the crust of the earth. (2002 Culverco inc) Heated water within the earth is used to heat homes and buildings. Cold water can also be pumped into heated rock which produces steam. (Advameg Inc 2007). The steam is then used to produce energy. This source of energy is high in cost and can only be used in certain area across the globe (United states Department of Energy).
In my opinion Biomass is the best alternative energy because you are producing energy while solving another problem, where to put all the waste from all other factories and animal waste an basically any substance that can be burned to create steam. the advantages of wind power can also be put into perspective because of its low cost of maintenance and availability almost anywhere. Using fossil fuels creates greenhouse gases while most alternative energies are emission free which is a plus for the environment.