Solar Flower Power...

Fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil are a finite resource. As it becomes more difficult to detect and extract from the earth, the costs to the consumer are sure to rise. This trend will continue if more resources continue to be used. And this is not the only cost of using fossil fuels. Many people feel that they have caused many of the environmental problems that we are beginning to witness today and ultimately will be paid for by future generations. So what are the alternatives to these traditional sources of energy. This article will cover a few of the alternative energy sources that are being touted as practical solutions both commercially and for the individual homeowner.

The first alternative energy source to be covered is solar energy. It has been with us for a good number of years now and many people are familiar with the odd solar panel in the neighborhood. To this extent, mankind has always known about the Sun’s energy and used it is one way or another since the first civilizations where established, however it is only fairly recently that it has advanced to the stage that we are at now.

At this point in time, the Sun’s heat and light energy is utilized to make energy for consumption.

Heat energy provided by the sun is used for many things like heating water, heating a room or cooking food. The heat from the Sun can be felt on the skin so it was not such a leap of imagination to apply it’s power to other applications. In reality, the Sun was used by many of these civilizations not only as an energy resource but also as a god, indicating the importance that they gave it.

Getting energy out of sunlight is still a fairly new development by comparison. The innovation that makes this occur is the photovoltaic (PV) cell. It was first used in the 19th century but only started being produced commercially in the 1970′s.

The principle behind it is that photons in sunlight hit the PV cell causing an electron to be displaced from the atom. Many cells and more sunlight cause more electrons to flow. This is how direct current (DC) electricity works. Direct current can be stored in a battery or used to power appliances that run on DC.

Wind power is another source of renewable energy that is becoming popular. I think this is because it is fairly well understood by most people as a concept. It may also be because plenty of wind turbines are popping up all over the countryside.

A wind turbine is a modern day windmill, it uses the power of the wind to turn blades. The kinetic energy turns a generator that, in turn, creates electricity. Countries such as Germany, Denmark and the United States are increasing the number of wind turbines every year. They represent a clean and cheap way to create energy.

Wind turbines or windmills can even be built in residential homes at a reasonable cost. It is quite simple to build a windmill or turbine from scratch or a pre-built variety can be purchased. Before you even think about this however, you need to establish if there is enough wind to make it viable and locate a good spot in your yard for it to go. You may also want to notify your neighbors that you are erecting a turbine as it could be an issue with some people.

Other renewable energy systems utilize the kinetic energy of water to create electricity. This is hydro-power and a dam is an obvious example of this process in action. Geothermal energy can also be used to some extent. The idea behind this is to use the heat found in the earth core to heat water, much like a hot spring or spa, to use as it is or as an input to a generator.

Source: solar energy