A beginner’s guide to alternative energy – weaning off fossil fuels 

Tremendous volumes of fossil fuels are utilized in the production of energy. It causes the extensive release of carbon into the atmosphere while depleting a resource that cannot be replenished. Coal is the most commonly used fossil fuel. Sadly this exhaustible natural resource is over-utilized in power generation and cannot be restored at the same rate. To prevent further exhaustion of fossil fuel and protect the environment, alternative sources of energy must be considered. The following guide looks at the use of hydro, solar, biogas and wind as sustainable sources in energy production. It explores the manner in which these resources work to deliver power and why more industries are moving towards greener energy, weaning the use of fossil fuel.

Drilling for oil - fossil fuels

Consequences of Exhausting Fossil Fuel

The exhaustion of natural resources can have a detrimental impact on environmental health. Reports of increased carbon emissions and global warming have had significant impact on agriculture, emergency disaster services and lifestyles. From increased heat to below freezing temperatures, mudslides and unorthodox fossil fuel extractions, the environmental impact of extracting coal and gas from the earth have serious global implications. Exhausting these resources compromises the continuous use of coal to produce power and alternatives must be determined.

Alternative, Sustainable Sources of Energy

Sustainable energy incorporates environmentally friendly or alternative fuels for energy production. It ensures continued resources are available for future generations. It is sustainable meaning; it can be replenished and will decrease the carbon footprint while creating a greener approach to energy production. Creating an energy efficient environment will reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Alternative sources include hydro power, solar, biogas and wind.

1) Hydro

Hydropower or hydro energy includes the ability to generate power using water sources such as rivers, lakes, dams and seawater. It is a renewable source of energy assisting in the production of electricity through the water flow cycle. Hydropower is used in combination with extensive turbines to generate electricity. The turbine blades move as the water falls on and through it, converting the mechanical turn from the turbine into electricity. The amount of power produced from these turbines will depend on the size of the turbine and the speed at which the water hits the blades.

Hydro electricity production

A powerful pump is used by operational plants and reservoirs to reuse water by pumping it back into the system and across the blades.

Powerful hydroelectric systems have already been incorporated in major agricultural areas across the world. These systems have served to produce incredible amounts of power. Many types of hydroelectric systems exist including pump storage plants that hold power and supply energy to homes and other demands. It is delivered by electrical generators. These turbines are connected to a separate reservoir located in a higher position. The large turbines will work backwards to spin water and the resultant power generated than stored at the independent reservoir at its elevated location. To utilize this electricity, the top reservoir is opened and water pumped to the low lying plant where the energy it used.

Power sourced from hydro plants is a clean energy. An investment into water based power has seen a rise in the construction of major dams and reservoirs serving as a backup or independent energy source. While hydropower can deliver electricity for entire farms and houses, a potential drawback is the construction of reservoirs that may block the natural flow of existing rivers and dams. Careful consideration is required in the development and advancement of hydropower.

This clean energy is renewable as water supply is restored by natural rainfall. This form of green energy is not responsible for the release of noxious gases. The facilities constructed for hydroelectricity offer long term power supply.

2) Solar

A common source of power production is solar energy. It involves the installation of a solar system that uses the sunlight to convert into sustainable power. Sun sourced energy has become widely used in homes to heat water cylinders, pools and general appliances. It is also commonly installed on business rooftops to reduce reliance on electricity from the grid. Solar energy is a renewable source of power.

Solar energy farm

The sun produces a spectacular amount of solar energy in the form of photons. These photons split when received by the system into electrons. The electrons flow through the circuit and produce power. With reports indicating that it has become the fastest and most widely utilized green energy, electricity generated from the sun is suitable for residential and commercial properties.

Solar energy is captured using solar panels. Every panel consists of photovoltaic cells that act as a semiconductor.

The panel contains a positive and a negative battery to create a circuit in the transfer of electricity. These panels produce DC or direct current which is converted into the standard AC or alternating current by means of an inverter for electricity use in properties. The purpose of the inverter is to convert the DC into AC.

The Operation of Solar Panels:

A solar panel or multiple panels are installed on the surface of a roof to gain maximum sun exposure. The photovoltaic cells on the panels work to absorb the UV light. Electrons formed from the sun, flow through the circuit producing direct current. The install of an inverter will transform the direct current into alternative current. Once AC is present, it is delivered to the select systems within the home or business. A major advantage of utilizing these systems is that no energy is wasted. Any excess energy produced by the system that is not used by the property owner, will be incorporated into the system in another manner.

Solar energy is a green and sustainable source of electricity. Power generated from the sun is not exhaustible and is feasible for use in the home and the business. It produces sufficient electricity to power appliances, swimming pools, lights, and hot water cylinders. Potential drawbacks include its high initial costs for installation and multiple panelling required to maximize the amount of power produced. It is not feasible for areas or properties that receive little light.

3) Biogas

Biogas is a green source of energy. It has become prevalent in an urban environment providing sustainability for the modern city lifestyle. Assessing its consistency and functionality can determine its suitability as a renewable power source.

Biogas energy production

Biogas is produced by the degradation of organic material. It is fermented by bacteria or through biochemical additions without the use of oxygen. Once the contents are degraded it produces methane (80%), carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide and minor gases. To produce the pure biogas, the impurities are removed from the production and can become part of sustainable energy practices. The delivery of biomethane is the clearest form of gas achieved. Waste produced on farms, industrial plants and municipal sources commonly deliver biogas. This alternative source of energy is incorporated as a green energy because it disposes of large volumes of organic waste and eliminates the release of harmful methane into the atmosphere.

Biogas or biomethane is primarily used as a power heat source. For biological and mechanical systems with thermal properties, the incorporation of biogas can deliver electricity. Biogas will combine with heat and power systems to deliver usable electricity. This electricity is used at source and provides the property the ability to utilize electrical output without reliance on the grid. Areas where electricity is expensive are best alleviated from such costs with the introduction of biogas. Many European countries have already developed biogas facilities where the biomethane is produced as a heat and power source. Independent biogas producers have begun to supply energy to surrounding communities and no longer rely on grid for its power consumption. While most countries have not fully incorporated the notion of utilizing biogas as a major source of energy, the gas is associated with powerful properties that make it an attractive solution for sustained energy. Not only does it decrease reliance on exhaustible resources, but it eliminates excessive waste from agricultural communities to industrial applications. Research has determined the production of biogas from farm crops is most efficient and effective in the production of a power source.

4) Wind

The large turbines and windmills found on agricultural and industrial property work to generate electricity using dense, moving air. Kinetic energy obtained from the wind is converted into usable power. The wind turbine is a green solution. It delivers high levels of mechanical function and electricity.

Wind energy turbines producing green energy

Power generating turbines consist of a rotor. A rotor is the 3 blades that turn along the top end of the turbine. Most wind turbines are of a substantial size to maximize its operation in all types of weather conditions. It ensures the greatest wind speeds are captured at the tower height.

Wind has remained a favourable choice as a sustainable source of energy because it is readily and freely available. Using wind will not exhaust any natural resource and can deliver large volumes of power at exceptional rates. To capture the power generated from the wind, the moving air must turn the rotor or the blades of the wind turbine. Once the rotor begins to turn, it triggers an internal generator that works to produce energy.

How Wind Produces Electricity

The conversion into usable power occurs when the generator is initiated from the moving turbine. The electrical system consists of a wire and magnets that work to produce alternating current. Depending on the type of electrical current needed, the AC can be converted into direct current and serve a variety of electrical operations.

This exceptionally clean source of energy is efficient and economical to run. It is incorporated in many farms where these renewable sources power machinery, charge batteries and systems for specific operational requirements. A single turbine can also provide a sufficient amount of electricity for use in the home.

More industries are paying attention to the sustainability and the affordability of wind energy. Owing to its renewability, it can prove economically sound without leaving a carbon footprint. It eliminates the production of harmful gases and pollution. Wind turbines will not utilize any type of fossil fuel in the production of electricity.

The use of a wind turbine is not restricted to agricultural properties. Modern systems mean that turbines can be installed on residential and business properties in accordance with regulation. The installation of a wind turbine to power up your property relies on an investigation into the general wind speeds in the region. To generate sufficient electricity utilizing wind, air speeds need to reach up to 18km p/h. Open areas that are not sheltered by trees and properties, can reach sufficient height will produce the ideal speeds for continuous power production. Areas that are not open and available for sufficient capture of wind can incorporate solar panels to generate residential electricity.

Wind turbines are sustainable and depending on the average wind speeds in the location will produce incredible volumes of power.

For the generation of wind energy, these turbines must meet a specific energy converting formulation. Wind speed is an influencing factor as the greater the energy in the wind, the more power is available to generate electricity. Turbines will receive more energy, the more dense the air is. When temperatures are cooler and the turbine is positioned at a lower level, it will produce larger amounts of power because cool air is naturally denser than warm air. Wind turbines generate high energy in larger open spaces.

Research into the long term feasibility of wind energy has shown by incorporating modern turbine technology, electricity costs are significantly reduced and reliance on the municipal grid decreased. It creates a secure stable solution in the production and management of energy efficiency where sufficient wind in select locations is effectively utilized as a power resource. Reliance on wind and water turbines produces clean energy.

Conclusion

Incorporating renewable sources of energy will significantly reduce reliance on fossil fuels to produce power. Green energy is not only more sustainable but is also more affordable providing long term economical savings. Solar, water, wind and biogas all serve a specific purpose in residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors. Investing in alternative energies has begun on an international scale with a slow progression. The goal is to gradually wean major industrial plants and the supply of carbon powered electricity off fossil fuels for environmentally responsible practices and the protection of invaluable earthly resources.

If you’d like to become more green, it’s actually quite easy to start. There are lots of green energy companies around these days so why not look into getting your home onto a clean green supply. In the UK Bulb one of the leading green energy companies offering 100% green energy at affordable prices, so if you’re interested take a look at our Bulb energy review.