The world loves energy. World energy consumption is increasing everyday. The most common way to produce energy is with the combustion of fossil fuels. There is only a set amount of fossil fuels and the demand for them are increasing exponentially every day.
Most people would agree that the burning fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil is harmful to the environment. Not only is it harmful to the environment by way of releasing green house gases, the majority of them being carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, they are harmful to the life we depend on as well. The runoff and byproduct of extracting these resources damage water systems and disrupts and even destroys the ecosystems around mining sites. Even if humanity figured out a way to harvest fossil fuels in an earth-friendly manner, It is still problematic because it is unsustainable. Fossil fuels will eventually run out. But what is the alternative? This article aims to answer that question by highlighting various forms of renewable resources which are the ways we can become more energy independent.
There are many ways to become more energy independent. The most common of them are solar and wind. Other methods include, hydro-power, geothermal, biomass or bioenergy, and ocean energy. Hydrogen combustion is not included in this list because, although hydrogen can be extracted from the heating of water, it is manly harvested from natural gas. There is some debate as to whether nuclear power should be considered renewable. There is also a question of ethicality to the extent of the benefits outweighing the risk. Because of its potential to do great harm, this article will not address it, leaving room to focus on the more concrete methods.
Although biomass may have harmful gas byproducts, it solves another problem facing the environment. Because we are a nation and arguably a world of consumers. The amount of trash we accumulate is overfilling our landfills. Biomass addresses this problem by harnessing the energy produced by the burning of waist products. The burning biomass is used to heat up hatter and the steam from that water is used to spin turbines that produce energy. There is a growing number of cities using this method to decrease the size of their landfills. This method is problematic as well, although not as problematic as hydrogen or nuclear power. There are more friendly forms of renewable resources, like hydropower.
Hydropower harnesses the power of water by using it the force of water to turn turbines that produce energy. The most common method of obtaining hydroelectricity is in the use of dams. A dam is used to block off a stream or river creating a reservoir. The force of the water through a small opening in the dam, spins turbines that produce electricity. The most famous of these dams is the Hover Dam harnessing the power of the mighty Colorado river. Using the mechanical force of water to spin turbines is not unique to hydropower.
Geothermal energy harnesses the heat produced from deep inside the earths crust. This heat is trapped and conducted to coils that heat up water. The steam from the water spins turbines much in the same way hydropower does. Alongside geothermal energy is ocean energy. It is a bit more complicated and the ocean can be used in two ways. By harnessing the power of tides and waves and using the heat of the sun in thermal currents. This form is still being improved upon. Wind energy is another way to provide the energy needed to spin a turbine to produce electricity. Solar power is unique in that it uses silicon cells called photovoltaic cells to absorb the radiation from the sun. It has some similarities to the other forms by using mirrors to heat water for powering turbines.
The consequences of continuing to use fossil fuels for energy should be enough to spark a change. With all the alternatives to fossil fuels available, it may be easier to find an alternative that will fit into any modern lifestyle.