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Common Alternative Energy Sources Being Used Today

Electricians and Energy Topics
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Alternative energy refers to any energy derived from sources that don’t rely on fossil fuels, are renewable, and don’t harm the environment. Alternately called renewable energy, it’s generated from resources such as sunlight, wind, plants, water, tides, and geothermal heat that are naturally replenished. New technologies that utilize these energy sources are being developed every day, making them increasingly competitive in the energy market. Here are some common alternative energy sources being developed and used today.

Alternative Energy Sources

Solar Energy

Solar energy harnesses the energy transmitted by the sun’s heat and light. Solar energy can be used in many ways in today’s homes. With a passive or active solar heating system, solar energy can be used to heat the home, or a less extensive system can be used to heat the home’s water or that of the swimming pool. Small solar electric systems (or PV systems) produce electricity for the home using both direct and scattered sunlight. Some lighting systems, such as landscaping solar lights, also run on solar power.

Wind Energy

Harnessing the wind’s energy is nothing new, but now the technology is such that today’s wind turbines are actually used to generate electricity. Small wind turbines can also be used for pumping water.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is one of the oldest and most established alternative energy sources. It is produced by the conversion of the stored energy of plants into an energy source that can be used. These days, biomass energy is used to fuel vehicles, generate electricity, develop bio-based products (such as plastics), and even heat homes.

Hydropower

When water flows, this movement creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. Hydropower plants even contribute to the power sold by electric companies, especially in places where there’s a lot of water such as the Pacific Northwest.

Geothermal Energy

This type of energy comes from the enormous source of power generated from the Earth’s heat. This renewable energy source can be used to heat and cool a home via a geothermal or ground-source heat pump.

Ocean Energy

Not only are oceans the world’s largest solar collectors, but they produce mechanical energy through their tide and wave patterns. Tidal and wave power are the two main ocean energy technologies presently available for use.

Much of the technologies responsible for the generation and availability of alternative energy sources are still relatively recent or are still in phases of development. As these energy resources become more efficient and more reliable, they’ll compete better and provide a viable alternative to the traditional energy sources now in place.

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