The world is experiencing an energy crisis – we are running out of fossil fuels and we are dependent on non-renewable energy sources that cause climate change and extreme weather.
This is potentially the start of a golden age of alternative energy. Alternative energy should be renewable, clean and good for the planet. We have the technology and resources to power the entire planet with alternative clean energy, but what are the best options?
WHY ARE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE?
According to Worldometer there are about 133 years of coal left on Earth. This might seem like a lot but that is according to our current rate of consumption, and each year humans use more and more coal energy.
The downside to coal is that it pollutes the air with carbon dioxide which is causing the current climate crisis and global warming.
Similarly, we only have 43 years of oil left. Oil is also a fossil fuel which means that when it burns carbon dioxide and other pollutants enter the atmosphere and also increase global warming and climate change.
Alternative energy sources are surely a necessity for continued life on planet Earth.
The forms of energy we rely on in the future must be clean and renewable. This is the only option to ensure the negative effects of climate change caused by fossil fuel energy sources can be reduced.
WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY?
The best alternative energy sources are:
Nuclear energy is not discussed here because it is not a clean or renewable energy source. Natural gas is widely used but this is a non-renewable energy source which also contributes to CO2 emissions and global warming.
Hydrogen energy production requires electricity and water and is therefore not a renewable energy source and therefore not a good alternative for future energy needs.
ARE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES GOOD ALTERNATIVES?
Renewable energy sources are the ONLY good alternative energy sources for the future. Fossil fuels are not renewable and cause pollution that contributes to global warming and climate change.
Nuclear is not an option because of the trouble with storing nuclear waste and the limited amounts of uranium fuel required to produce nuclear energy.
Energy has resulted in many wars and conflicts due to scarcity in the fossil fuels needed to produce non-renewable energy. If we as humans are to have a future without war (which could eventually result in full nuclear holocaust) we MUST embrace other forms of energy as a matter of extreme urgency.
Renewable energy is limitless and is renewed as soon as it is used. Tides, hydropower, solar, geothermal and wind are all free and limitless. Why would we want to use any other form of energy?
WHAT ARE THE BEST ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES FOR THE HOME?
The alternative energy sources best suited for home use are:
Solar energy through rooftop solar panel and solar heating solutions
Wind energy through microturbines
Solar is the most prevalent of these energy sources and therefore the most logical for home energy needs. Wind is an option for areas where wind is fairly constant.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES FOR A BUSINESS?
Business energy needs can best be met through:
Similar to residential areas, commercial districts do not usually have geothermal or hydropower energy sources and therefore the best alternative energy options are solar and wind.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES FOR FARMERS?
Farmers require large scale energy, similar to industrial complexes. Farms are remote and sometimes grid-supplied energy is unreliable or not an option.
The best option for farmers are therefore:
Farmers can store energy using water. A water source (such as a dam or tank) is situated in an elevated position. Solar-powered pumps transfer water from a reservoir up to the elevated water storage. Once the dam or tank is full, the water can be slowly released through a pipe and the action of gravity. The water flowing downhill can then move electricity-generating turbines to provide energy even when the sun is not shining.
Water is therefore an excellent way to STORE energy (and doesn’t require batteries!).
Farms might also be located near a flowing river or theothermal energy source. These can be used to power electrical turbines that generate electricity.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES?
Alternative energy sources have the following advantages:
Solar energy is clean, renewable and green
Wind energy is clean, renewable and green
Hydroelectric energy is limitless
Geothermal energy is limitless (and can include smart energy solutions like geothermal heat pumps)
Biomass energy is a cleaner way to use fossil fuel energy than coal or oil
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES?
Alternative energy sources require buy-in from governments and corporations. Societies have been built to be reliant on the government and fossil fuel industries to provide energy and individuals are no longer self-sufficient.
A change to alternative energy therefore requires CHANGE in individual behaviour and the policies of government. This change requires political will, the power of voters and changes in attitudes for complete adoption.
Certain alternative energy sources can also have a negative impact on the environment.
Hydroelectric dams can disrupt entire ecosystems if they are not built in a mindful way that protects the environment.
The production of solar panels requires mining of elements such as boron and phosphorus and this also has a negative impact on the environment.
Technological improvements will ensure future alternative energy sources are as clean and green as possible.
WHICH ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES ARE THE BEST OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE?
We believe solar and wind power are the best options for a renewable energy future because these are accessible by most homes and businesses.
Hydroelectric energy and geothermal energy are best suited for large scale projects and should be developed by governments to supply the existing grid with clean and renewable energy.
Biomass energy is limited in scale and should be seen as a supplementary alternative energy source.
The energy crisis is very real and as we move forward into the next decades alternative energy sources will be essential for the survival of life on Earth.