CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
Energy has become integral parts of our day-to-day lives. Energy is required to produce electricity for domestic and industrial applications. We need energy to drive our vehicles, to run the machines, keep our houses cool and hot, run the computers and mobiles, and for a number of other purposes.
Comparison of Traditional and Alternative Energy Sources:
Traditionally we have been using fossil fuels for production of electric power and driving our vehicles. The fuels used for the generation of electric power are fossil fuels like coal and oil, and nuclear fuels like uranium. The fuels used commonly for running the vehicles are crude oils like gasoline and diesel. Alternative energy refers to the energy that is not dependent on fossil fuels, crude oil and nuclear fuels. Alternative energy, also called as renewable energy, is obtained from various sources like radiations of the sun (solar energy), wind, water, geothermal heat and tides in the oceans. Burning of fossil fuels is one of the major causes of environmental pollution and greenhouse effect. They release lots of carbon dioxide and particulate matter. The alternative or renewable energy is considered to be the clean energy since extracting energy from its sources does not produce any pollution.
The sources of energy like fossil fuels, crude oil and nuclear fuels are also called as non-renewable sources of energy since their deposits are reducing in the nature as they are being used extensively throughout the world. Fuels like coal, natural gas and oil took millions of years to develop but once used they cannot be replaced immediately. The alternative energy on the other hand is available in abundance from various sources and they get replaced easily immediately or within short period of time.
Alternative sources of energy provide unending supply of energy. For instance the solar energy from the sun will be available for unlimited period of time till the sun keeps shining. Solar energy can be collected by the collectors and it can be used for a number of applications like cooking food, heating water, generating electricity, running the vehicles etc. Similarly, the wind will keep on blowing on the surface of the earth tills its atmosphere is in place so it can be utilized for unlimited period of time. The ability of the wind to produce motion can be utilized to run the fans of the windmill and produce electricity from them.
The tidal energy is obtained from waves of the oceans having huge quantity of water that would last forever. One of the important sources of alternative energy is hydro-power used for the generation of electricity in hydroelectric power plants. Throughout the world, the hydroelectric power plants are one of the major sources for the generation of electricity. In these plants the flow of river is blocked at certain places and water is allowed to be collected at large height in the dam. The rivers have been flowing since thousands of years and continue to exist for unlimited period of time as they are replenished by rain water from time-to-time.
Geothermal energy is obtained from the lower layers of the earth usually for producing the heating effect. Once the energy is obtained from the earth, it is replaced immediately naturally and it can be used for ending period of time interval.
Another important source of alternative energy is the biomass like waste wood, leaves of the plants, broken branches and twigs of the trees, agricultural wastes, garbage, human wastes etc. The fuels obtained from biomass are called bio-fuels. Some of the common bio-fuels are ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas. Biodiesel is a type of alternative fuel used for running of the vehicles. It is made from renewable energy sources like plant and animal fats. Biodiesel is not a petroleum fuel, but it can be easily blended with petroleum fuel diesel in various proportions.
All the above alternative sources of energy are expected to last for long intervals of time line. While the supply of coal, oil and natural gas is expected to reduce and stop in the future, the supply of energy from sources like sun, wind, water, earth, and biomass is expected to last forever.
Consumption of alternative energy in US has been increasing over the years. In the year 2009 the consumption of alternative energy in US was 7.7 quadrillion Btu, which was 8% of all the energy used in the whole nation. Half of the alternative energy was used for producing electricity, while 10% of the total electricity produced was from alternative energy sources. Besides this alternative energy sources were also used for production of heat and steam. Alternative energy was also used for transportation, and to provide heat for homes and businesses.
Alternative energy sources reduce the pressure on fossil fuels and also help keep environment clean. The only major problem is that alternative energy is expensive compared to the fossil fuels mainly because they are located in remote places and its difficult to bring them to the main grid. Some of the sources like wind and solar are not uniform during various periods of the day and the year. However, their demand has been increasing and various technologies are being developed to utilize alternative energy sources more efficiently.
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES