We cannot rely on fossil fuel forever. Rising oil prices and environmental problems are proving this point. Our earth is also showing signs of strain, with the symptoms of global warming felt throughout the world. It’s high time to switch to Plan B – alternative sources of energy.
Why make the switch to renewables? Contrary to fossil fuels, the supply of renewable energy is virtually infinite. Using alternative energy also reduces our global reliance on fossil fuels, thus reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the atmosphere. The world is now turning to renewable energy to augment their traditional electricity needs. In fact, over 7% of total energy consumption in the United States comes from renewables, and almost 20% worldwide.
Nature abounds with resources that can be harnessed for renewable energy. A few decades ago, the only real renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels was hydropower. Thanks to the latest developments in science and technology, the sun, wind and water are now being harnessed to produce usable and renewable energy. Although energy generation from falling water is still today’s largest source of alternative energy, we have now begun to tap many of nature’s other infinite resources. Let us take a look at some of them:
- Solar energy – through the use of photovoltaic cells or solar panels, the sun’s heat and light can be converted into electricity for lighting and heating homes, industries and commercial establishments.
- Wind energy – the wind’s energy is captured by windmills or wind turbines, converting its force into mechanical energy. Many agricultural farms used wind-generated electricity for pumping water and grinding grain.
- Water energy – The force produced from the strong movement of water currents can be converted to energy, called hydroelectric power.
- Biomass – Biofuels are made from the organic matter of plants. And are often used as an additive to petroleum-based fuel to lessen its toxic emissions.