Alternative Means of Power Generation

Forms of alternative energy:

There are many forms of alternative energy that are found on earth. These alternative energy sources have been used by man to create electricity and reduce the load on the reserves of fossil fuels that are depleting fast on earth. Alternative energy helps preserve fossil fuels; these are wave power, wind power, tidal power, geothermal energy and solar energy.

Here are a few forms of alternative energy that can generate electricity:

Geothermal energy:

This the thermal energy present in the earth’s surface and below the surface of the earth. Geothermal energy originates from the actual formation of the planet, through the radioactive decay of elements, and also through volcanic activity. Geothermal energy from hot springs has been used for bathing since the ancient times and also for space heating by the Romans. This energy can be harvested to create electricity and heat. Over 24 countries worldwide have now been able to create thousands of mega watts of electrical power using geothermal energy. The main applications of geothermal energy are space heating, district heating, industrial purposes, agricultural purposes and desalinization. Geothermal energy is sustainable and renewable but it can only be harvested in areas that are close to tectonic plate boundaries where geothermal activity is high. In order to harness geothermal energy, gigantic wells and bowls need to be built. It is not very easy or cost effective to harness energy through this form of alternative energy. Even though geothermal energy does release a minuscule amount of green house gasses, these are negligible as compared to those released by fossil fuels.

Wind power:

The wind has been used since time immemorial to aid man with many purposes. Wind mills are used to crush grain, transmit and store water and even sail boats and ships. The power of the wind can be harnessed with the help of wind turbines which can actually create electricity. Wind mills can also create electricity which can power homes and even industries. Wind turbines and wind mills are very expensive to install and also require specialist knowledge to maintain. These gigantic structures are also not possible to be installed on smaller appliances like calculators or street lights or cars. They also require a lot of money to maintain and run. Wind power cannot be stored rather; it needs to be utilized in most circumstances. Countries like the Netherlands have used windmills for centuries to irrigate their massive canal system and divert water inland.

Wave power:

Wave power is the energy obtained from the waves. Waves can be utilized to create electricity but in order to harness wave power, big wave power plants need to be set up. These plants are very expensive to build and also to maintain. If for any reason the tides retreat and waves don’t create as much force as they were previously creating, then wave power won’t be sufficient to create current electricity to power homes. Wave power can also be used for water desalination and the pumping of water into reservoirs. A wave energy converter is usually required in order to utilize wave power.

Tidal power:

Tidal power is a form of renewable energy that converts the energy of tides into other forms of energy. It is more predictable than wind power and wave power as tides have a predictable cycle. It has also been tapped into to generate electricity.

Solar energy:

Solar energy is the energy that is obtained from the sun. Solar energy is the cheapest and most cost effective means of power generation. All one requires in order to create electricity from solar energy is PV or photo voltaic panels. These are special panels that are composed of PV or solar cells. These special solar cells can create current electricity when exposed to sunlight due to the presence of photo voltaic material. Photo voltaic material creates current electricity due to the photo voltaic effect.

Benefits of solar energy over other forms of alternative energy:

Solar energy has many benefits over other forms of alternative energy generation. Solar energy does not require huge power plants to generate electric current; all one requires is PV panels. PV panels can be built on huge, industrial scales, or even be small enough to fit on small appliances like a calculator. PV panels can be set up in homes and even in swimming pools to heat the water. Solar energy can also be used to cook food, power vehicles, for distillation, water purification and sterilization in industries, to heat or cool homes and even to power street lights. Other forms of alternative energy can provide environmentally friendly electricity but they do not have as many wide spread uses as solar energy has. Generating electricity with the help of solar energy is very simple as PV panels do not require high maintenance or specialist knowledge. These panels usually come with a lifetime guarantee as well. Tidal power, wave power, geo thermal energy, wind turbines and wind mills all require complicated equipment that requires heavy maintenance and specialist knowledge in order to generate electricity. Although all these forms of alternative energy have a renewable source, solar energy is by far the easiest to utilize as the electricity generated by solar energy can be stored, converted, and also reflected.