12 May 2011

What are the alternative sources of energy and what is their availability?

          The alternative sources of energy are the ones we hope to develop the future. The energy substitutes are necessary as the price of fossil fuels increases and supplies are depleted.

SOLAR:

          This is the energy from the sun. There is an inexhaustible supply. However, the problems are numerous. First let me enumerate some of the solar methods that are being used. In the world, a number of people have made solar water heaters. The country has given grants for experimentation. The solar voltaic cell is another source. With this method, sunshine is turned into electricity. Many builders and new home owners are experimenting with passive solar design. This means using more windows where their homes are facing the sun and using less windows and more insulation where their homes receive less sunlight and tend to lose heat. Finally, the most advanced technology is space satellites that would receive more sunlight and transmit it back to earth continually. The stations would be put in orbits so they would receive a maximum amount of solar energy.

          The problem begins with storing solar energy so we would have it at night or on sunless days. Also, presently the cost of solar technology is high. Hopefully in the near future there will be some breakthrough.

GEOTHERMAL:

          This alternative is using the earth’s heat. There are several sites in the western part of the United States using it, but it does not seem that the high cost and the problems involved would be worth involvement.

TIDAL ENERGY:

          This source would harness the ocean’s tides, but except in isolated instances it would not appreciably affect our energy future.

WIND:

          For years and years windmills have been a source of power. However, for the massive amounts of energy we consume it would be no alternative.

SYNTHETIC FUELS:

          Synthetic fuels are artificial fuels produced from oil shale (rock) tar sands or made of liquefying or gasifying coal. We have abundant amounts of coal and this will be the primary source. It will certainly not supplant our use of oil, but if USA can produce two million barrels a day by the 1990’s it will be a big plus. The positive aspects would be two-fold; it would reduce our dependence on other countries and produce many new jobs. Also, it will involve a tremendous cooperation between private corporations and the government.

WOOD:

          This is only an energy source for a limited amount of households. If wood was used by any of the large industrial consumers, our forests would be quickly dissipated. In our country, many people are using wood burning stoves and other similar equipment; however, this is not a visible alternative for the future.