Alternative Energy Sources Are Changing Lives

Posted by on May 8, 2019 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 0 Comments

By Michelle Joe

When we think of alternative energy, the first thing that comes to the mind is solar or wind power. Yes, these two forms of sustainable energy are most commonly discussed. However, several other options also belong to this category. The following alternative energy sources are currently being researched and developed to carry our planet towards a greener tomorrow.

Types of alternative energy sources:

Hydroelectric power

As the name suggests, it’s the production of electric power with the help of water. The flow of water from a dam forces turbines to spin, where a generator creates electricity. Hydropower supplies 16.6% of the world's total electricity, which is 70% of all renewable electricity.

Geothermal energy

Unlike wind or solar, geothermal power does not rely on a varying source of energy. It channels heat energy radiating from within the earth’s core. Geothermal power plants use steam to push turbines to generate electricity. By 2050, geothermal could meet 3-5% of global demand for power and heating.

Wind energy

It’s an abundant, sustainable source of energy that's estimated to generate almost 20% of the world's total electricity by 2030. Wind turbines can harness power from the wind. As the blades spin, kinetic energy is produced and converted to electricity.

Solar energy

Panels capture energy from the sun’s rays. Semiconductors such as silicon inside the photovoltaic cells lose electrons as they absorb sunlight to generate electricity. It's a powerful form of energy that is quite plentiful in supply. One hour of sunlight is adequate to power the planet for an entire year. However, we do not know how to utilize its full potential. Currently, less than 1% of the global total energy demand uses solar power. But, the amount of solar energy production is expected to increase exponentially over the coming years.

Biomass and biogas

Both deal with organic wastes, where biomass burns plant wastes to create electricity, biogas uses the decomposition of animal manure to produce methane gas. But neither can provide a wide-scale contribution of power to the grid as of yet.

Solar energy and its impact on our lives

This article will focus on solar power and how it is changing our lives. It is one of the most plausible options and can be implemented on a personal level. Though expensive, it is a more cost-effective solution than other alternative forms of energy mentioned above.

And it’s not only about adopting the technology that powers our homes or businesses. It is a mode of life that incorporates into the way we travel, the effect of cleaner power on our health, and economy of our country. Here are some ways that renewable sources will change our lives in the coming years.

1) Improves the environment

Though there are concerns about the associated pollution during the manufacture and installation of solar panels, the obvious benefit of implementing solar power is zero emissions. Utilizing renewable energy can considerably reduce CO2 emissions, thereby decreasing the effects of global warming. With the absence of emissions, there are no pollutants in the air and water to harm public health.

2) Developing a system to manage the inexhaustible supply

Currently, a small fraction of energy from sustainable resources is being harnessed. Countries close to the equator have ample sunshine. But sunny skies don’t last forever. Cloudy weather and day/night patterns have created the opportunity for solar companies to develop efficient storage solutions.

But that isn’t all that solar companies are focusing on. They are looking at ways of reducing the cost of the system while prolonging its life and improving its efficiency. Newer products are continuously being created, the most recent being Tesla’s solar roof tiles.

3) Advancements in the IT sector

Any emerging scientific development must be backed by IT. As solar power is making a competitive stand in the power industry, software(s) are being designed to manage all aspects of the business. From installation to O&M (operation and management) to sales, solar companies have the right technology at their fingertips to make their job as easy as possible. More importantly, solar project management software has helped in planning, scheduling, and allocating resources to control costs and complete projects within allotted timeframes. Data is available in real-time making it easier to access relevant information from anywhere, whether at the office or on site.

On the other hand, the ideology of saving energy has inspired various companies to design smart devices. Energy consumption can now be monitored easily with the internet of things promoting communication among devices at home or in the office. In fact, the relationship between solar power and Artificial Intelligence is aiming to create a significantly more efficient PV system.

4) Creates more job opportunities

The solar sector is rather labor intensive as compared to the fossil fuel industry. More people are required to install and maintain solar panels. This means that more jobs are created for each unit of electricity produced.

In the US alone, studies revealed that there were 374,000 workers employed in the solar industry while only 187,117 workers in coal, oil, and natural gas power plants in 2017. Greater support for renewable energy can create more jobs in the future.

5) Other economic benefits

In addition to employment, the growth of clean energy can instigate multiple positive economic benefits. Reduced utility bills promote savings, allowing money to be spent elsewhere, thereby creating a ripple effect in the economy.

Houses with solar panels tend to increase in value on the real estate market. Local governments provide tax incentives to homeowners and businesses that invest in renewable energy projects. For businesses, this is a great way to cut expenses and get ahead of the competition.

6) Building structures and cars that promote efficiency

Even with the right technology to capture and utilize solar power, it’s imperative to design buildings that conserve energy. Placing windows at ideal locations to let sufficient sunlight illuminate the interior space of buildings, incorporating adequate insulation to promote cooling or heating, and using appliances that consume less power are simple ways to construct ultra-efficient homes and offices. Businesses are now improving energy efficiency in all products and services. Not only will it make solar systems more efficient, but when they are implemented independently, they can help save on utility bills.

We exist in a world that depends on transportation. Alternative energy has made considerable waves in this area as well. Companies are focusing on developing fuel-efficient cars such as hybrids. But the latest advancement, electric vehicles, is taking great strides to alter modes of transportation as we know it.

In conclusion

For centuries, coal, oil, and natural gas have monopolized the energy sector. It’s time to make room for alternative forms of energy sources. Progress in these areas is offering hopes of a cheaper, more reliable, and more resilient power source.

These technological developments are influencing our lives in more ways than we know. It may be that within the next decades, the central power grid may be a thing of the past. And our dreams for a ‘green' planet will finally come true.

About Michelle Joe

Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524

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