11 Alternative Energy Sources Available NOW – our helpful guide

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Alternative Energy Sources

We take a close look into the present and the future to determine the Types Of Alternative Energy Sources Available NOW

Global warming poses a growing threat to the environment, food security and our way of life.[1] So it has become important to search for alternative energy sources. Burning oil and coal are nonrenewable, harmful ways of creating energy.

These fuel sources are harming the earth as people mine for them. And the fumes they release are warming the earth and melting the poles.[2] So, more people are considering alternative energy sources for home and industrial use.

If you are one of these people, it might help to know what alternative energy sources are available now. To help you choose, we’ve created a list of some of the best alternative energy sources available. We’ve also considered some alternative sources that may become popular in the future.

It’s important to know what nonrenewable energy sources are. Then you can work at excluding these from your home. So, we’ll discuss what we mean by nonrenewable energy or dirty energy. We’ll also consider which alternative energy sources are the most viable for home use.

If you want to know about alternative energy sources, you have come to the right place.

Alternative Energy Sources Currently Available

Infographic Alternative Energy Sources

The environmental crises have forced people to consider alternative energy sources to use now and in the future. Fortunately, there are many innovative ways to produce energy. The 11 alternative energy sources currently available are:

  • Hydrogen gas
  • Tidal energy
  • Biomass energy
  • Wind energy
  • Geothermal power
  • Natural gas
  • Biofuels
  • Wave energy
  • Hydroelectric energy
  • Nuclear power
  • Solar power

While not all these alternative energy sources are equally viable or energy efficient, they are alternative means of creating power. Let’s consider each of the 11 alternative energy sources available now in more detail.

1. Hydrogen Gas

Hydrogen doesn’t occur as natural gas but can be extracted from other compounds.[3] When combined with elements like oxygen, it forms water. And we have long known how to extract hydrogen from water. Then, you can use hydrogen gas as a clean power source. Hydrogen gas can be burned for fuel. It can also power batteries and electric motors.

While hydrogen is more sustainable than coal or oil, the extraction process pollutes.[4] So, hydrogen gas isn’t the cleanest alternative energy source currently available.

2. Tidal Energy

Tidal energy[5] is one way to use the ocean as an alternative energy source. Tidal energy works by placing a constricted device into the water. There, the tidal changes are strong enough to produce energy. We then convert it to electricity and store it in specialized batteries. We then load this into the electrical grid.

Tidal energy doesn’t create fumes or pollution. But the equipment to harvest tidal energy is expensive with high maintenance costs. This is why you don’t often see tidal energy used as an alternative energy source. Scientists are working to make tidal energy more viable and to expand its uses worldwide.

3. Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is an innovative alternative energy source.[6] We can use dead organic matter (like wood) to create energy. We have used biomass energy for millennia when starting fires to cook food. And we can apply the same principle on a much larger scale. We harvest biomass energy from the gasses released when plant matter decomposes.

You might argue that a burning fire releases carbon dioxide into the air. This is true. But living plants use that same CO2 to produce oxygen. So the effects of biomass energy are reduced. The biggest drawback is that it takes time for the plants to grow and die before we can use them to create energy.

4. Wind Energy

Wind energy[7] is an alternative energy source most of us are familiar with. Wind energy uses a wind turbine to generate power when the wind turns the blades. You can use wind energy on a small smaller scale at home. Otherwise, we use it on a much larger scale to produce electricity for the grid.

Wind energy doesn’t pollute, but it still has some limitations. A wind farm needs big open spaces with an optimal wind flow. So these farms are often far away from cities, where we need the most electricity. The turbines are also loud and may harm bird species that die when hitting the blades during flight.

5. Geothermal Power

We can generate Geothermal power when heat escapes from the earth’s crust.[8] By pumping water into the earth, the heat creates steam, which we can use to produce energy. Since geothermal energy comes from steam, it doesn’t produce harmful gasses.

But geothermal energy is an expensive alternative energy source. There is a risk that the drilling used for geothermal energy may cause earth tremors.

6. Natural Gas (Methane)

Methane comes from the earth, produced by decomposing and decomposed organic matter. Natural gas (methane) often can be found near fossil fuel deposits. We also find it in landfills, and anywhere organic matter decomposes. We can use this methane as a fuel source and it may replace the need for fossil fuels in the future.

Unfortunately, natural gas has the same problem as biomass energy. It takes time for the organic matter to grow, die, and decompose. It takes even longer for the decomposing matter to release natural gas. So it is insufficient to replace fossil fuels.

7. Biofuels

Biofuels are another energy source we can get from biomass. We can use these fuels to power vehicles and any other devices that need fuel to run. We harvest biofuels from biomass and they are a viable energy source for vehicles. There are two primary types of biofuels – ethanol and biodiesel.[9]

Ethanol is often combined with gasoline to fill vehicle tanks and other machinery. It causes less pollution, and people are developing engines that can run on only ethanol. Biodiesel is another biofuel created from biomass energy and we use it in the same way as ethanol.

The main limitation of biofuels is that vehicles cannot use them as fuel sources right now. The hope is that new technology will eliminate fossil fuels and enable cars to run on biofuels instead.

8. Wave Energy

Wave energy is similar to tidal energy but uses the force of the waves instead of tidal changes.[10] The waves turn the blades of turbines, which create energy and store it as electricity. Wave energy doesn’t emit gasses and can create a substantial amount of clean energy.

There are limitations to wave energy, though. It is costly to install structures in the ocean to capture wave energy. Also, we can only install wave energy can only where the ocean conditions are suitable. It cannot be used everywhere.

9. Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy[11] is another energy source many are familiar with. Dams situated at high points harvest energy from rivers. As the water flows through the dam, it moves through turbines that harness the energy. Hydroelectric energy doesn’t emit any gasses, and the technology is well-established.

The main drawback is that it is expensive to build these hydroelectric dams and turbines. They are harmful to the environment, especially to aquatic wildlife.

10. Nuclear Power

We create nuclear power with a process known as nuclear fission. This is the process that creates energy when splitting atoms. The splitting atoms release energy in the form of heat and radiation. The heat combines with water to create steam used to power turbines. These create electricity.

Nuclear power is an energy source that creates a lot of electricity worldwide. Once established, it isn’t as expensive to maintain as other alternative energy sources. But the radiation produced poses significant risks to people and the environment. The uranium needed to split the atoms is also a nonrenewable energy source. So nuclear power is a finite resource.

11. Solar Power

Solar power uses sunlight to create electricity.[12] The solar panels capture the sunlight and transfer it to battery cells for storage. Solar power doesn’t cause any pollution, making it a viable alternative energy source.

The main drawback of solar power is that it needs large open spaces with enough sunlight for the panels to work. Solar panels also need replacing every 10 years. This makes solar power more expensive than some others we have discussed.

History of United States Energy Mix
History of the United States Energy Mix

Upcoming Energy Sources

Besides those 11 alternative energy sources, more alternative energy sources are in development. Here are some of the most notable upcoming alternative energy sources.

1. Nuclear Fusion

We’ve discussed nuclear fission, which involves splitting atoms using uranium. While nuclear fission creates harmful radiation, nuclear fusion does not.[13] It involves fusing atoms together to create energy. Nuclear fusion is what powers the sun and trillions of other stars throughout space. Scientists are trying to create a fusion reactor capable of mimicking joining atoms.

The energy released when they fuse these atoms will be used for electricity. Nuclear fusion will be superior to nuclear fission as it doesn’t need uranium and doesn’t emit radiation.

2. Airborne Altitude

Airborne altitude energy is another upcoming alternative energy source to look out for.[14] Airborne altitude energy collects wind energy at high altitudes. We do this using a device tethered to an aircraft. This device uses fewer materials than traditional wind turbines and requires less space.

Developers expect airborne altitude energy to replace traditional wind turbines. Either that or work alongside to them to create cleaner, sustainable energy. Airborne altitude energy is currently in testing, and scientists are optimistic about the future of this source.

3. Solar Roads

Solar roads are another potential energy source we hope to see implemented in the future. With this energy source, the hope is to replace tarmac roads with solar panels. Since there are so many roads worldwide, replacing the roads with solar panels will save space by making roads dual-purpose.

Solar roads are currently under development. The biggest concern is that the road’s angle, the traffic’s weight, and dust and debris accumulated on the road will make the solar panels less efficient. But we remain hopeful that we will see solar roads developed in the future.

4. Space Solar

Space solar is another way of harnessing the power of the sun. The idea is to set up solar units in space to collect solar power and beam it back to Earth. Space solar will cut the need for large open spaces covered in panels. It also has the potential to reduce the environmental effects of solar panels on earth.

Space solar is currently still a concept idea, as the construction of these units is costly. And it will also be expensive and difficult to transport the captured energy from space to earth.

What Is NOT Renewable Energy Sources?

Nonrenewable energy sources are sources that have a finite amount. Sources that will eventually run out. For instance, there is a finite amount of fossil fuels remaining. Once we exhaust them, we will no longer be able to use them to create electricity.

Nonrenewable energy sources often cause environmental damage. This can be either during their manufacture and implementation or while harvesting energy. This means that they aren’t efficient and do more damage than good.

Unfortunately, most of our electricity comes from nonrenewable energy sources like fossil fuels. We cannot rely on our current power systems to sustain us forever. For this reason, we must use sustainable energy sources as much as we can in our daily lives.

Using Renewable Energy Sources In Your Home

You may think implementing alternative energy sources is up to the government. But, there is a lot that we, as individuals, can do to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint.

There are several ways to introduce renewable energy sources into your home life. Here are three ways you can use renewable energy sources at home.

1. Solar

Solar power is one of the best ways to introduce renewable energy at home. You don’t even need to invest in expensive solar panels. Instead, you can run your geyser’s waterpipes across your home’s roof. If the pipes are black, they will use sunlight to heat the water. and you won’t need electricity for your geysers anymore.

Of course, you can also install solar panels. This will reduce your dependence on the grid and reduce your carbon footprint.

2. Heat Pumps

Heat pumps collect heat from outside and pump it into your home. This will heat up your water and interior during winter. Heat pumps work like fridges, only in reverse. It is a renewable energy source to consider, especially if you live in a cold area with freezing winters. Having said that, they are expensive to buy and install at the time of writing.

3. Wind Power

You can also install wind power in your home. Smaller-sized wind turbines are available for domestic use. You can place them outside or build them into your home unit. These wind turbines create electricity and are a renewable source. They also don’t make as much noise as industrial-sized turbines, so you won’t have to worry about that.

Besides creating your own electricity and being self-sufficient, you can sell the excess back to the grid. No energy will go to waste, and you will receive compensation for your efforts. This further helps reduce the effects of electricity supply on the environment.

We have taken a close look at the different energy sources available and in development. So, you can choose which renewable energy source you want to put in place in your home. By using renewable energy sources in your home, you will both save money and the environment.

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Steve Brown

AUTHOR

Steve is a gadget enthusiast who's always been intrigued by batteries. The founder and editor of Battery Chargers Info, he's assembled a group of like-minded experts to cover every facet of portable power His aim is to help you learn more about your favorite gadgets and their batteries so you can maximize both their performance and their life.

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