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Alternative Energy Sources

There are many reasons we are looking towards alternative energy sources. With many
countries, and US cities, signing the Kyoto Treaty, efforts to reduce pollutants and
greenhouse gases are a primary focus in today's culture. Alternative, or renewable energy,
sources show significant promise in helping to reduce the amount of toxins that are byproducts of energy use. Not only do they protect against harmful by-products, but using
alternative energy helps to preserve many of the natural resources that we currently use as
sources of energy.
To understand how alternative energy use can help preserve the delicate ecological balance of
the planet, and help us conserve the non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels, it is
important to know what types of alternative energy is out there.
Wind Power
Wind energy harnesses the power of the wind to propel the blades of wind turbines. The
rotation of turbine blades is converted into electrical current by means of an electrical
generator. In the older windmills, wind energy was used to turn mechanical machinery to do
physical work, like crushing grain or pumping water.Wind towers are usually built together
on wind farms. Now, electrical currents are harnessed by large scale wind farms that are used
by national electrical grids as well as small individual turbines used for providing electricity
to isolated locations or individual homes. In 2005, worldwide capacity of wind-powered
generators was 58,982 megawatts, their production making up less than 1 of world-wide
electricity use.
Pros

Wind power produces no pollution that can contaminate the environment, Since no
chemical processes take place, like in the burning of fossil fuels, in wind power
generation, there are no harmful by-products left over.
Since wind generation is a renewable source of energy, we will never run out of it.
Farming and grazing can still take place on land occupied by wind turbines which can
help in the production of biofuels.
Wind farms can be built off-shore.

Cons

Wind power is intermittent. Consistent wind is needed for continuous power


generation. If wind speed decreases, the turbine lingers and less electricity is
generated.
Large wind farms can have a negative effect on the scenery.

Solar Power
Solar energy is used commonly for heating, cooking, the production of electricity, and even
in the desalination of seawater. solar power works by trapping the sun's rays into solar cells
where this sunlight is then converted into electricity. Additionally, solar power uses sunlight
that hits solar thermal panels to convert sunlight to heat water or air. Other methods include
using sunlight that hits parabolic mirrors to heat water (producing steam), or simply opening
a rooms blinds or window shades to allow entering sunlight to passively heat a room.
Pros

Solar power is a renewable resource. As long as the Sun exists, its energy will reach
Earth.
Solar power generation releases no water or air pollution, because there is no
chemical reaction from the combustion of fuels.
Solar energy can be used very efficiently for practical uses such as heating and
lighting.
The benefits of solar power are seen frequently to heat pools, spas, and water tanks all
over.

Cons

Solar power does not produce energy if the sun is not shining. Nighttime and cloudy
days seriously limit the amount of energy produced.
Solar power stations can be very expensive to build.

Geothermal Energy
Literally, geothermal means, "earth heat." Geothermal energy harnesses the heat energy
present underneath the Earth. Hot rocks under the ground heat water to produce steam. When
holes are drilled in the region, the steam that shoots up is purified and is used to drive
turbines, which power electric generators.
Pros

If done correctly, geothermal energy produces no harmful by-products.


Once a geothermal plant is build, it is generally self-sufficient energy wise.
Geothermal power plants are generally small and have little effect on the natural
landscape.

Cons

If done incorrectly, geothermal energy can produce pollutants.


Improper drilling into the earth can release hazardous minerals and gases.
Geothermal sites are prone to running out of steam.