What is Alternative Energy?
Alternative energy is any form of energy that doesn’t consume natural resources or come from a source that would harm the environment. Alternative energy is renewable and sustainable, and is not created by burning fossil fuels. This helps the environment as the burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is a direct cause of global warming. This type of energy comes in many different forms and is harnessed mostly from natural occurrences on earth.
Solar energy is the most abundant form of alternative energy. It is also the cleanest as it doesn’t produce much waste. Other forms of alternative energy include:
- Geothermal energy
- Tidal energy
Each type of energy is beneficial, but not all are necessarily interchangeable. Solar energy is so widely appreciated for its long-term use, accessibility, and sustainability. Almost all areas of the world have hours of access to sunlight daily. It is also easily installed residentially while most other sources aren’t very realistic for home use. For example, wind energy requires turbines that rotate like a fan. This equipment is not only expensive, but is also known for being loud, unlike solar power, which is harnessed silently.
Alternative energy vs. Renewable energy
Alternative energy can be defined as any “alternative” to burning fossil fuels for energy as humans have been doing for centuries. The term came about when we were able to make technological advancements and find substitutions for burning coal or oil. Renewable energy is an energy source that is sustainable and reusable. These two terms have different origins but really define very similar concepts.
Some forms of renewable energy can still be harmful to the environment, even if they are never-ending. Alternative energy is all about keeping the planet protected from any further harm that fossil fuels produce.
Why is Alternative Energy Important?
Alternative Energy gained its name because it is simply an alternative form of energy. Throughout history we have predominantly relied on coal, oil, and natural gas to create usable energy. We have learned in recent years how detrimental this is to our planet.
Burning fossil fuels as a source of energy releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When there is an excess of carbon dioxide in the air, heat is trapped which directly leads to global warming. Over the past decade, our planet has reached the highest global temperatures ever to be recorded in history. The average temperature increases each year and in turn is leading to immense harm to our planet.
The effects of this pollution are irreversible and pertain to many different aspects of our planet. Some examples of these effects include:
- Wildlife endangerment
- Forest fires
- Rising sea levels
- Dangerous weather
It is crucial that we begin making steps in the right direction and put an end to burning fossil fuels. As technology progresses, we have seen that we are able to power our planet in natural ways, including solar power being the leading option. Alternative energy emphasizes the accessibility to substitutional power sources.
Can Alternative Energy Completely Replace Fossil Fuels?
The short answer is yes. Currently, generating electricity using renewable power is cheaper to produce than burning fossil fuels. That was not always the case, as in the past it was much more expensive due to lack of resources, but as alternative energy technology continues to expand and improve, the cost to use the equipment needed to produce energy continues to decrease. Solar farms and wind farms alone have proven to be a reliable source that can provide and meet the world’s demand for power. That is a huge accomplishment, considering that there a handful of other alternative energy sources, including hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy, bioenergy, nuclear energy, hydrogen energy, tidal energy, and wave energy. While it is true that these alternative energy sources are not perfect, the overall benefits surely outweigh the negatives. As time goes on and more technological advances in this field are achieved, total elimination of the usage of fossil fuels is entirely possible within our lifetime.