As the Japanese always say “continuous improvement” is the key. But in energy continuous improvement is not only the key it’s the key and the door itself. The door to a better improved life style and the key to human survival is with no doubt related to finding Alternative Energy Sources.
Fossil fuel sources take millions of years to develop, and are running out extremely fast due to the increasing usage of energy, and the reliance of modern technologies on consuming energy in a rapid way. One of the most commonly used source of energy is coal, which according to the opinion of many experts will lead to the end of the world as we know it today. Which leaves no choice but to turn to renewable energy sources.
Alternative energy on the other hand, is energy provided from sources other than the fossil fuel sources: coal, oil, and natural gas.
Renewable energy is generated from natural resources which are renewable and naturally replenished, there are different sources of renewable energy such as: Tidal Power, Solar Power, Hydroelectricity, Geothermal Power, Biomass, Wind Power, Compressed Natural Gas, Nuclear Power, and others.
As to Green energy, it’s that energy generated from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, tides, rain, plants, and heat; These energy resources are renewable, and they diminish naturally.
Although, the usage of renewable power is beneficial to the environment, each types have its drawbacks that must be taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate type of renewable energy that suites organizations and factories, as a cost- benefit analysis must be conducted to determine the appropriate energy source, therefore renewable energy sources can be summarized as follow:
- Tidal energy
Tidal energy refers to energy generated from tidal stream generators or by barrage generation. The power created via tidal generators is environmental friendly and has less impact on established ecosystems. Many tidal stream generators rotate underwater and is produced from swiftly moving dense water. Although not widely used, it has potential for electricity generation. Tides are easily predicted unlike wind energy and solar power.
Historically, tide mills have been used, both in Europe and the USA, now it’s used in many countries all over the world.
- Solar power
Solar power is utilizing the sun’s energy to produce electricity. It’s one of the fastest growing energy sources. Solar cells are now more efficient, flexible, and transportable, allowing for easy installation. Solar installations in recent years have begun to expand to other places, as well governments offer incentive programs to make “green” energy a more economically applicable.
The production of power by using gravitational force of falling or flowing water, it’s electricity generated by hydropower. It is one of the most widely used form of renewable energy. After a hydroelectric complex is constructed, no waste is produced.
Small scale hydro or micro-hydro power is an increasing alternative energy source, especially in areas where other power sources don’t exist. Small scale hydro power systems might be used in small rivers or streams with little or no environmental effect. Most small scale hydro power systems are not useful for dams or huge water diversion, but it uses water wheels to generate energy.
- Geothermal Power
Geothermal energy is a strong efficient way to extract a renewable energy from the earth via a natural process. This can be done on a limited size to provide heat for resident units, or on a large scale for energy production through a geothermal power plant.
Geothermal power is reliable, cost effective, and eco-friendly. Technological advances have expanded the size and range of viable resources, especially for applications in home heating.
One of the most widely used forms of renewable energy is biomass, it refers to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production. For example, trash like dead trees and branches, yard clippings and wood chips biofuel, and it also includes animal matter or plant used for production of chemicals fibers, or heat. Biodegradable wastes that can be burnt as fuel is also considered to be Biomass. Industrial biomass can be produced from numerous types of plants, including corn, hemp, poplar, sorghum, willow, sugarcane, and a variety of tree species, ranging from eucalyptus to oil palm. The plant used is mostly not important to the end products, but it affects the processing of the raw materials. Production of biomass is a very growing industry.
- Wind Power
The conversion of wind energy by wind turbines into a useful form is called the wind power, such as mechanical energy or electricity. Large-scale wind farms are usually related to the local power transmission network with small turbines that are used to provide electricity to remote isolated areas. While, residential units are entering production and are used for powering large appliances to houses. The wind farms that are used in agricultural land or grazing areas, have a very low environmental impacts of all sources of energy. The usage of wind power to produce electricity is growing rapidly all over the world. Wind power is as cheap as cool in Germany and the UK.
- Compressed Natural Gas
It is a fossil fuel substitute for propane fuel, diesel, or gasoline. While its combustion does produce greenhouse gases, it is still a cleaner environmental alternative to those fuels, and it is a safer choice than other fuels in the event of a spill, as natural gas is lighter than air, and disperses quickly when released. The use of natural gas vehicles has increased significantly in Europe and South America due to rising gasoline prices. And due to high fuel prices and its negative environmental impacts, CNG is starting to be used also in light-duty passenger vehicles and medium-duty delivery trucks, pickup trucks, transit and school buses, and trains.
Currently, the largest number of CNG vehicles in Europe is in Italy and is the 4th country in the world for number of CNG-powered vehicles in circulation.
- Nuclear Power
Any nuclear technology designed to extract usable energy from atomic nuclei through controlled nuclear reactions is a Nuclear power. The only method used today is through nuclear fission, though other methods might include nuclear fusion. All utility-scale reactors use water heat to produce steam, which is then converted into mechanical work for the purpose of generating electricity or propulsion.
Supporters of nuclear energy contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on foreign oil. And they also explained that the risks of storing waste are small and can be reduced by using the latest technology in newer reactors.
Critics on the other hand believe that nuclear power is a dangerous energy source, and through reducing proportion of nuclear energy in power production, the risks can be reduced, while supporters advance the notion that nuclear power produces no air pollution, in contrast to the viable alternative of fossil fuel.