The use of fossil fuels continues to be an area of discussion worldwide. Although fossil fuels remain to be the top source of producing energy, they pose serious environmental threats.
The carbon emitted by fossil fuels during burning contributes largely to pollution and global warming.
With the fossil fuels’ hazardous effects, people are turning into other options of energy-producing sources such as hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear energy, to name some.
Let us take a closer look at these sources, which could be the answer to the Earth’s problem of pollution-free and hazard-free ways of producing energy.
Tidal Wave Energy
Tidal energy comes from the conversion of the energy obtained from tides into electricity. It operates much the same as wind turbines.
Tidal Stream Generators are the most common form of tidal energy production where it makes use of kinetic energy to power turbines.
Wave energy can be defined as the energy generated from the waves of the ocean. It is one step ahead of tidal energy sources since converters can be placed into the sea in different positions.
While wave and tidal energy are both inexhaustible energy sources and produce less waste, their main drawback is the cost.
Tidal energy and wave energy could be promising energy sources in the future, given that the improvements in the equipment and process will be in place soon. The development may help increase the availability of tidal and wave energy while decreasing environmental and economic costs.
Biomass and Biofuel Energy
Biomass is an organic material obtained from animals and plants, which could also be sources of energy. Some examples of biomass include alcohol, crops, woods, waste materials, and animal manures.
Burning wood, in particular, has been in practice since ancient times. It is the easiest way to produce heat. The amount of heat it can provide can be equal to a centralised heating unit, so it is an excellent alternative to producing energy. Economically, the cost of production is also minimal. When opting for burning woods as an energy-producing source, it should be taken into consideration its maintenance and permit to operate.
Biofuels, on the other hand, are made from biomass sources. Unlike fossil fuels, they could last indefinitely. One primary function of biofuel is its use in vehicles and transportation. Ethanol and methanol are some examples of biodiesel.
Biofuels, in itself, does not produce emissions, but the extraction process contributes to increased gas emissions. So researches are now geared towards using materials that will lessen emission.
In its simplest definition, wind energy describes the process wherein the wind is used to manufacture electricity. Wind energy is sustainable and creates fewer problems for the environment.
Wind energy totals to 2.5% of global electricity utilisation. To date, 83 countries are using energy to power their grids.
Geothermal energy is generated from the sub-surface of the Earth. It is an infinite form of energy, emits less carbon, and creates a constant and steady reserve of heat that is converted to electricity to be used in homes and commercial buildings.
However, there is some downside to this energy source. It has high upfront costs for creating and operating geothermal power plants and emits harmful gases such as hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide.
Geothermal energy is generated in over 20 countries, and the World Bank sees an increase of up to 40 countries using geothermal energy to supply electricity.
Hydroelectric energy usage dates back to thousands of years ago and continues to be the most commonly used viable source of energy today. It is a form of energy that utilises the power of moving water, such as waterfalls, to generate electricity.
Hydroelectric energy offers a lot of benefits. It is safe, does not cause pollution and waste, and is limitless. On the downside, building hydroelectric power plants cost a lot, and so there is a limited number of power plants.
Nuclear reactions such as nuclear fission, decay, or fusion produce nuclear power.
Nuclear power generates around 15% of the world’s electricity, and about 450 nuclear reactors are in operation worldwide.
While nuclear power offers a stable load of energy and is one of the sufficient sources of energy, it poses a lot of risks. Although nuclear power plants only emit insignificant carbon dioxide, it is on its wastes that create a problem. Many accidents have already been recorded involving nuclear plants, with Chernobyl and Fukushima topping the list.
And Solar Energy
Solar power is another source that is now being used widely across the world. It is currently being used on a small scale, such as in single households up to extensive production, just like solar power plants. The technology has significantly improved, and installation is now so easy and affordable.
Solar power is available abundantly, has diverse applications, and is low maintenance. Solar panel installation can be a good investment in the long run as it will save you from costly electricity bills, and solar panels can last for almost 20 years.
Governments have also stepped in to support solar power use. Many countries have introduced regulatory and price policies such as feed-in tariffs, quotas, targets, and auctions, which have encouraged more customers and increased solar power usage.
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