Alternative Sources Are The Future
What Is Alternative Energy?
Fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) are our most traditional source for power generation. Therefore, the energy that’s produced from any source other than fossil fuels is alternative energy. In other words, alternative energy is any amount of energy derived from non-fossil fuel sources. Generally speaking, using alternative energy has a low environmental impact.
What’s the Difference Between Renewable and Alternative Energy Sources?
We now know that alternative energy sources are any source we use to supplement or even replace traditional energy sources used for power generation. You could almost say the same thing about renewable energy sources. But there is one subtle difference between the two. All renewable energy sources fall under the category of alternative energy sources, but it doesn’t work the other way around.
That’s because renewable energy sources are derived from naturally replenished sources or processes of Earth, such as the sun, wind, and water. We refer to these resources as renewable or sustainable (as in sustainable energy) since, unlike fossil fuels, this naturally occurring continual renewal makes them inexhaustible. However, it’s possible for there to be alternative energy sources that are exhaustible, and therefore not renewable. That’s the difference. So what alternative energy source is exhaustible? You’ll have to continue reading to find out.
What Are the Best Types of Alternative Energy Sources?
The equipment necessary to harness energy from alternative sources used to be so expensive that it wasn’t practical for consumer use. However, thanks to increased demand, more experienced energy developers, competitive supply chains, improved renewable technologies, and enhanced energy efficiency capabilities, that’s no longer the case.
In fact, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report back in 2020 showing how renewable power has now become increasingly cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation. Let’s look at a few of the best alternative sources we use today.
What Are The Most Affordable Energy Production Options?
Onshore wind power and solar photovoltaics, respectively, are currently the most affordable options when it comes to energy production. Using these two natural resources over coal could save as much as $23 billion in yearly power system expenses. It could also lower annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 gigatons. Bioenergy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, and nuclear energy are also making their way into the financially competitive spotlight, depending significantly on location.
What Are The Most Reliable Sources of Energy?
Out of all the known energy sources, nuclear energy has the highest capacity factor by far. Nuclear power plants are able to produce maximum power over 93% of the time on an annual basis. Next in line comes geothermal, followed by natural gas.
Natural gas is considered the cleanest burning and most reliable fossil fuel, but it still isn’t a clean energy resource. However, there is an alternative called renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG also goes by the name of biomethane and is produced from livestock, landfill waste, and other organic materials through anaerobic digestion. While it’s not a fossil fuel, RNG is completely identical to conventional natural gas in chemical make-up, allowing them to use the same distribution system.