Energy is needed by humans to carry out daily activities. Most of the energy sources are found from fossil fuels such as oil, gas, natural, and coal. However, these three energies are finite and will run out one day.
Therefore, humans need alternative energy sources. Alternative energy comes from renewable sources, such as sun, wind, rivers, hot springs, tides, biomass, and biogas.
In general, there are two types of energy, namely alternative (renewable) energy and non-renewable energy. Alternative energy is a term that refers to all energy that aims to replace conventional fuels.
Please note, alternative energy sources are usually renewable. However, there are many forms of alternative energy that depend on very limited resources. For example, nuclear power uses uranium or other heavy elements and must be mined. Meanwhile, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and hydroelectric power use fully renewable resources.
Types of Alternative Energy
Hydroelectricity refers to the energy generated by hydroelectric dams. The water is channeled through equipment to turn a turbine to produce electricity. You can also find a discussion of various alternative energies that can be used in the future through the book Why? Future Energy.
2. Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is energy produced through slow fission reactions. Rods of uranium or radioactive elements heat water to produce steam, then turn a turbine to generate electricity.
The complex and interesting process of producing nuclear power is also discussed in the book Why? Nuclear and Energy which is equipped with various interesting illustrations.
3. Solar Power
Solar power is energy that is harnessed directly from the sun. Photovoltaic cells usually consist of a silicon substrate and arranged in a large array converting direct sunlight into electrical energy. In some cases, the heat generated by the sun is also used to generate electricity. This is known as solar thermal power.
4. Wind Power
Wind power is energy produced by the flow of air. The way it works is that a large wind turbine is rotated by the wind, then produces electricity which is also discussed in the Wind Energy book below.
5. Geothermal Power
Geothermal energy is energy produced by heat and steam originating from geological activity in the earth’s crust.
In most cases, geothermal energy consists of pipes placed in the ground above a geologically active zone to transmit steam through turbines to generate electricity. Further discussion regarding this can be found by Grameds in the book on Thermal Energy Transfer Techniques, which is below.
6. Tidal Power
Tidal power is the energy produced by tidal ropes that are located around the shoreline. Daily tidal changes cause water to flow continuously through turbines to generate electricity, which is then diverted to power plants along the coast.
Biomass energy is a fuel derived from plants and biological sources, such as ethanol, glucose, algae, fungi, and bacteria that can be used as a substitute for gasoline as a fuel source.
The use of biomass as an energy source and fuel for power generation has also been proven to have low emission levels and is environmentally friendly which is further discussed in the book The Role of Biomass for Renewable Energy.
Hydrogen is energy that comes from a process that involves hydrogen gas which also has a myriad of benefits and goodness that you can learn through the book Hydrogen and Medical Gas.
These can include catalytic converters, in which water molecules are broken down and put back together by electrolysis; hydrogen fuel cells, where the gas is used to drive an internal combustion engine or heated to turn a turbine; and nuclear fusion, when hydrogen atoms fuse under controlled conditions to release large amounts of energy.
Alternative Energy Benefits
1. Some Alternative Energy Sources Do Not Produce Pollution
Some alternative energies are proven to be non-polluting. Because, wind power provides an advantage because it does not cause pollution that can pollute the environment.
In addition, no chemical process takes place other than the creation of a turbine that rotates when the wind blows. This indicates that the burning of fossil fuels is maintained as well as possible during the manufacturing process. Not only that, the harmful by-products left behind have also been shown to be less.
Alternative energy that does not produce pollution such as solar energy or hydroelectric, although the benefits offered are lower. Currently, geothermal energy is still considered the best choice because it can be accessed anytime after it is installed without worrying about emissions.
2. Bio-Based Fuel Proven Beneficial to the Environment
The creation of biofuels is also one of the benefits of the presence of alternative energy. Products produced from biofuels such as ethanol and algal biofuels.
Bio-based fuels are proven to be beneficial for the environment. This is because the products used to make these fuels can absorb as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is released when used. This means that our net consumption remains the same even though all emissions are taken into account.
Bio-based fuels are fuel resources that are inherently renewable. In fact, when we use it in larger quantities, the additional biomass needed to make it still absorbs as much carbon dioxide as it was created.
3. Alternative Energy Can Be Used Together With Existing Infrastructure
In some developed countries, several alternative energies can be utilized together with the country’s infrastructure. When we generate electricity from hydropower, solar, or wind turbines, it flows through the existing grid, then into our homes and business networks.
Geothermal energy installations work through the HVAC system, which distributes heating and cooling needs to the indoor environment. In fact, algal biofuels can also go through the same refinement process as crude oil to create products that can be used for a variety of vehicles.
United Airlines has even utilized a blend of biofuels from algae-based sources for up to 40% of existing needs.
4. Alternative Energy Does Not Face the Threat of Extinction of Resources Such as Fossil Fuels
If we look at the condition of crude oil, coal, or other fossil fuel resources, the energy reserves are very depleted. This energy can only be used for a period of 60 years. After that, humans inevitably have to find other ways to access the energy needed to survive.
However, alternative energy can now be a solution to these problems. If the sun continues to shine, it means that we will continue to be able to access solar energy. The warmth of the sun will help form the wind energy that we often use.
As long as our planet has water, we can still use tidal collectors and hydroelectric generating structures. In addition, the position of the earth also allows the existence of geothermal energy. None of those energies will be lost.
5. Alternative Energy Still Produces Hydrocarbons
Admittedly, one of the main reasons fossil fuels get support from many parties is the economic benefits they provide. Hydrocarbons produced from fossil fuels allow us to make everything commercially viable, from soap to plastic products. It’s not impossible, the deodorant you use comes from a refinement process.
Meanwhile, alternative energy based on vegetable can actually produce similar goods with the same process. It’s just that the price of goods which are often more expensive is often questioned.
That is, we consider the price as an advantage. Although households may pay a little more for needed goods, the added value to the local economy can help raise everyone’s standard of living.
Flexible plant-based goods such as sugarcane, algae, or even corn in some areas, allow us to find ways to reduce costs without limiting the amount of access to each item.
6. Alternative Energy Can Help Stabilize the Economy
Please note, alternative energy can help stabilize our economy. The cost of producing energy from alternative sources is highly dependent on the level of investment that occurs every year.
Since they are not traded on the futures market like fossil fuels, the exact cost to be paid depends on the amount of availability. This advantage causes price stability for alternative energy.
Although the cost is clearly more expensive than fossil fuels, the results are certainly predictable. The investments we make can provide additional benefits that can help lower family costs over time.
7. Alternative Energy Creates Massive New Workers
There are hundreds of thousands of positions for renewable energy jobs available around the world. For example, in the United States in 2010 created 100,000 jobs from the renewable energy sector.
When we start working to reduce our dependence on natural gas, coal or petroleum, lowering the company’s carbon footprint, it will create a higher priority for jobs in alternative energy.
8. Utilization of Windmills is Environmentally Friendly and Does Not Generate Waste
Alternative energy can also be obtained from wind power. The energy source is none other than generated from the gust of wind, then processed and collected into great energy. The result of the utilization of wind power is a windmill. The performance of windmills often seems to move slowly, but windmills have the ability to produce enormous energy.
In addition, the energy from the wind can also be used as electrical energy after being connected to a generator. Energy with wind power has also proven to be more environmentally friendly when compared to other alternative energies because it does not cause any waste at all.
Use of Alternative Energy in Daily Life
1. Solar Power Plant
Solar power generation is a form of using alternative energy sources. A device called a solar panel is used in solar power plants to convert solar heat into electrical energy. Solar panels are made of semiconductor materials that can generate electricity when given heat energy.
When elementary particles of sunlight hit the semiconductor material, free electrons will be released, then flow to form an electric current. Currently, many are starting to switch to using solar energy. Because, the number is not limited and also does not need to be purchased.
Indonesia has also started using solar power to generate electricity, one of which is the 4 MW Badak Solar Power Plant in Bontang, East Kalimantan. Apart from being used to generate large amounts of electricity, solar energy is also used in various electronic devices, for example solar power banks, solar cars, and solar powered smart phones. The three electronic devices are equipped with solar panels to convert solar energy into electricity in order to power the device.
2. Wind Power Plant
Another alternative energy, namely wind power plants can generate electricity through the use of windmills. The gust of wind that spins the mill then turns the generator, which in turn can generate large amounts of electricity.
Please note, wind power generation is the cleanest alternative energy source. Because, these energy sources do not produce pollution or emissions. In addition, wind power plants also produce absolutely no toxic gas emissions. Unlike the case with solar panels whose materials can be toxic when disposed of, windmills do not contain any toxic hazards at all. In addition, windmills are also proven to be environmentally friendly because they do not damage the ecosystem or the survival of animals and plants in the vicinity.
3. Hydrothermal Power Plant
Hydrothermal energy is heat energy in the earth that comes out through rock crevices such as craters. Geothermal that comes out naturally is proven to be much more efficient to turn turbines for electric generators. In Indonesia, PLTU Kamojang, located in Bandung Regency, West Java, is an example of a hydrothermal power plant.
4. Hydroelectric Power Station
The nature of water that always flows from a high place to a low place can be used to turn a turbine generator and produce electricity. Usually, river water is massively dammed which is then released with a certain discharge to generate electricity.
Hydroelectric power plants can produce enormous amounts of electricity continuously, but the presence of dams and turbine blades can kill animals that live in rivers, such as fish and otters. As a result, hydroelectric power plants must continue to be developed so as not to disturb the aquatic ecosystem. In addition to dammed rivers, hydroelectric power plants can also use the tides of sea water to turn turbines to generate electricity.
5. Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plants can be obtained from the successive fission reactions of substances that produce energy spikes. Although its development is dangerous because it emits radioactive substances, nuclear power is an alternative energy source that produces the largest electrical capacity of other alternative energy sources.
According to the US Department of Energy, nuclear power plants are proven to be 1.5 times more efficient than natural gas, 2 times that of coal, 2.5 times that of wind power, and 3.5 times that of solar power. This means that if one nuclear reactor can produce one gigawatt of electricity, two coal reactors with a capacity of one gigawatt are needed to produce the same amount of electrical energy.