Alternative Energy Solutions

What is it?

Alternative energy is any energy source that provides an alternative to fossil fuels. While there are many definitions that make up alternative energy, generally, it refers to anything that is recovered or produced without the consequences that fossil fuels provide, such as high carbon dioxide emissions. The increased content of carbon dioxide in fossil fuels significantly increases the warmth of the planet, and is a leading factor in global warming. Alternative energy sources are usually renewable and typically “free”.

Types

There are many different types of alternative energy sources. From an environmental perspective, solar power is one of the most popular types. Solar power produces no pollution, urban smog, or acid rain, and a 1.5 kilowatt PV system will prevent the need to burn over 60,000 pounds of coal over 25 years. Solar panels usually come with a 25 year warranty and are incredibly light, meaning you can take the system with you if you move. Another popular type of alternative energy is wind power. Wind power dates as far back as 5000 B.C., and is considered one of the most promising new energy sources available. Wind energy has become more affordable and is also pollution-free. To extra wind energy, large turbines are used. They are usually located on large wind farms that have hundreds of individual wind turbines. While solar and wind are the two most common forms of alternative energy, there are others that are gaining popularity, such as geothermal. Geothermal energy is created by tapping into the thermal energy that is stored in the earth. It is sustainable because it is constantly replenished. Geothermal heating is in use in 70 countries, while geothermal electricity generation is used in 24 countries. It should only increase in popularity in the coming years.

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Pros & Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to using alternative energy sources. For starters, it is clean. Most types of alternative energy do not release pollutants or carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is a huge advantage, because global warming is becoming a serious issue for our planet. Reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use will help reduce the amount of pollutants in our atmosphere, and should hopefully help reduce the pace of global warming. Alternative energy is also sustainable. It relies on the earth’s natural resources which are not limited. We will never run out of sun or wind. We are rapidly burning through non-renewable resources, and by using alternative energy sources, we help limit the damage we are doing to these resources. Alternative energy solutions also decrease our dependency on foreign countries. For the United States, almost all of their oil comes from other countries. Wind and solar power, however, can be created and harnessed pretty much anywhere. Lastly, it encourages economic development. It will help create jobs, which will in turn help improve the economy. There are some drawbacks to alternative energy, however. While it is almost always available, it is affected by weather. If the sun isn’t shining, we can’t use solar energy. It is also costly. The technology that is needed to harness renewable energy is extremely expensive, especially when compared to fossil fuels. These costs affect the consumers the most, who will have to pay higher taxes and premiums. It also alters the landscape, as large wind turbines and other technology needs to be constructed in order to harness this energy.