Depletion of mineral resources and its extremely high impact on ecology, made by our traditional energy sources, was the reason why people all over the world started to look for non-traditional alternative energy sources and use them instead of traditional ones.
Alternative sources of energy are ones which can be renewed: the energy of Sun, winds, deep geothermal sources, oceanic water, biomass, atomic reactions and so on.
It is a practically inexhaustible energy source. If humans could use at least 1% of solar energy, all the troubles and needs of modern global energetics could be solved and satisfied instantly. The main thing is to make its usage maximally cheap, affordable for any human of any citizenship. As the technology develops and makes this energy cheaper, the popularity of sun energy usage will grow significantly. Plus, traditional energy resources tend to get costlier, and this is the additional factor marking solar energy very profitable.
One can use the warmth and light of our star in two possible ways:
To use it directly for providing heat and hot water supply;
To transform warmth of the Sun into electric energy.
Direct usage of solar warmth is the easiest and cheapest way to live in comfort. Catching up the solar energy by using different types of collectors with reflective surfaces is the most widespread way to get its power. Direct usage is not spread out on our planet yet, but the numbers keep growing intensively all the time.
Technologies allow to transform solar energy into electricity by using special photoelectric converters (“solar batteries”) or by heating water and getting the certain amount of hot steam which makes turbo-generators work.
The main difficulties which do not allow humans to use photo-converters widely are connected with their expensiveness, specific quantity of metals required, and the need of vast areas for solar power stations to function. Researchers are working on equipment which could replace metal converters with elastic synthetic materials. They are also developing special surfaces for walls and roofs of buildings to place solar battery panels on.
Solar energy is being used nowadays in automobiles, ships, planes, space stations and satellites.
There is a great future for solar energy technologies, but nowadays this branch is to be developed, improved and innovated in order to make the price of solar power affordable. The percent of solar energy in overall power production is supposed to increase up to 10-20% by the middle of the 21st century.
Humans used it since ancient times, and recently this kind of power supply technology has got lots of attention. Yes, the USA is using several tens of thousands of wind electricity generators. Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and many other countries have massive wind power stations installed on their territories.
There are wind electric engines of different power capacity invented nowadays. Complexes of small generators joint into one single system are the burden of economy.
But then again, wind electricity generators require lots of metal materials to use, and they occupy vast territories to perform their functions. Vibration, noise and danger for birds are additional factors which are to be taken into account while using the generators of this kind. Especially high noise and vibration are produced when high-capacity generators are used.
If we take ecological factors into account, solar and wind power stations are more about economy than atomic or traditional warmth stations nowadays.
It is based on using internal warmth of the Earth. It can be used as warmth energy (the capital of Island, Reykjavik, is supplied with warmth provided exclusively by hot underground sources) or as the source of electric power.
The construction of geothermal stations is quite simple. They don’t need any fuel and collectors. Steam, which is being taken from wells, is delivered into engines and then moves electricity generators.
The most serious ecological problems connected to geothermal energy usage come from the issue of wasted mineral water. If there is no special recycling system installed, the danger of serious salt pollution of soils and waters appears. Heat pollution also comes to reality on the territory which is near to geothermal energy station.
Sea and Ocean Energy
Energetic resources of oceans are priceless because of them being renewable and literally inexhaustible. Tidal energy, wave energy, stream energy, difference of temperatures between various depths and locations. This energy is quite expensive nowadays, so it isn’t used yet. Still, engineering projects and calculations prove it to be the energy of the future, which can be used a lot more widely.
Biomass is wooden materials, waste of forest and paper production industry, farming and food industry waste, etc.
Nearly one third of the Earth’s population still use wood as the main fuel.