The Future of Energy: Alternative Sources

These days there is a lot of talk about alternative energy sources. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one right now is the damage to environment being done by fossil fuels. Other reasons would include the fear that we are running out of oil and the fact that a lot of countries have to rely on oil imported from other places. There are a lot of options when it comes to alternative energy sources. In fact that is one of the problems that has slowed the development is that there are so many potential sources that funding and research is getting spread around to too many different technologies.

The most frequently talked about alternative energy source is solar power. This one potentially offers the greatest benefits but it also probably comes with the most potential problems. Once you have everything set up solar power is basically free, unfortunately getting everything set up is very expensive. You also have to deal with the issue of what happens when the sun isn't shining. Wind power has basically the same benefits and the same problems as solar power, it's expensive to set up and it doesn't produce power on a consistent basis. A lot of people think that using wind and solar power together would offset the disadvantage of them not being available all the time. This would be very expensive however.

The other major source of alternative energy is a variety of different plans to replace fossil fuels with other fuels that are renewable and produce fewer emissions. This would include things like biofuels, hydrogen and a whole host of other things. Most of these suffer from the problem that they are not very energy efficient; in a number of cases it actually takes more energy to produce the fuel than you actually get out of the fuel. There is also the problem that some of these fuels actually produce more emissions than fossil fuels.

Oddly the one alternative fuel source that rarely gets mentioned but is actually the most successful is hydroelectricity. This is one of our oldest sources of power and it is by far our most widely used renewable source of power. There are also no emissions from a hydroelectric plant. It would be the ideal source of energy except that the flooding caused by building the dam does cause some damage to the ecosystem. This has a lot of environmentalists opposed to hydroelectric power which is a shame since it is probably the best option available.

Eventually the problems with at least some forms of alternative energy will be overcome and they will become widely used. However until the cost of them is brought down to the level of that of fossil fuels this isn't going to happen. With more research and the increasing cost of oil sooner or later it is going to happen.