Global warming has become a serious threat to the climate of the earth and the way of life of us human beings, although in the beginning it was considered a hoax but now a vast majority of the experts believe that the threat is real and we have to do something about it before it’s too late.
The single biggest cause of global warming is our addiction to energy and burning of fossil fuels to produce that energy, it has become imperative that we have to find alternative sources which can provide our energy needs in a manner which is not detrimental to the environment and does not release greenhouse gases which are responsible for the global temperature rise.
Renewable energy sources are the best alternative for fossil fuels like petrol, coal and natural gas, here is the list of the top ten best renewable energy sources available to us today.
10. Space Based Solar Power
Research on the concept of harnessing solar energy in space through a satellite power system for use on earth started in the early 1970s. Instead of collecting solar power on the surface of the Earth this method will utilize a collecting method that will orbit the earth collecting the solar power from the sun directly.
This method of collecting solar power is more beneficial as sun rays would not be diffused by the atmosphere of the earth and there will be no night time in space. Although massive amount of energy can be produced by this method, it is still way too expensive to be feasible.
9. Human Power/Kinetic Energy Harvesting
Humans use the kinetic energy they produce to perform numerous daily tasks like walking, running, cycling, exercising etc, it is possible to harvest this kinetic energy and use it to generate electricity. Scientists all across the world have invented different types of machines which use human power like transport vehicles, charging equipment, human powered laptops and others.
It is quite possible that within the next few years you will not have to plug your phone or other small electrical devices to electrical sockets to charge them, you will be able to do so by just walking and doing your daily chores, the kinetic energy you will produce will be converted into electricity which will charge your devices.
8. Tidal Power
Tides and waves possess a huge amount of energy and converting this energy into power, mainly electricity is called Tidal power, since most of our planet is covered with water tidal power can be used to fulfil the electricity needs of a large portion of the global population.
As compared to solar power and wind energy tides are much more predictable, but the high cost and very few available sites has constricted its availability. However, recent progress and developments in the turbine technology and design has proved tidal power is feasible in a lot more areas than previously thought and it has the potential to become the best renewable energy source in the future.
The concept of using Hydrogen gas as a fuel is not new, NASA has been using liquid hydrogen to power their rockets since the 1970s, the electrical systems of a space shuttle are powered by Hydrogen fuel cells. The only byproduct of using Hydrogen as a fuel is oxygen and clean water which the crew of the shuttle uses for drinking.
However, there are few problems in using Hydrogen as a fuel, since Hydrogen is not found individually on earth it has to be separated from other compounds like fossil fuels and water. It can be separated from fossil fuels by a process called reforming, but this process is not environment friendly. There is another climate friendly method called electrolysis but this method is still too expensive to separate Hydrogen from water.
6. Geothermal Power
The energy that determines the temperature of matter is called thermal energy and geothermal energy means the energy created by the high temperature of the Earth’s core. The core of the Earth is continuously transferring heat energy to the surface of the Earth through conduction. People have been using geothermal energy for bathing and relaxing since ancient times.
But now scientists have found out that geothermal energy has the potential of being a reliable, cost-effective and climate environmentally friendly renewable energy source in the near future. In 2010 almost 28 gigawatts of thermal heating was installed worldwide for space heating, district heating, desalination plants, industrial processes and agricultural applications.
5. Nuclear Waste
Nuclear plants are being used to produce electricity all around the world by almost all the nuclear states and many more non-nuclear states. Currently the nuclear reactors use the process of nuclear fission which involves splitting the atom to create enormous amounts of energy. But this process is not that effective and creates an abundance of nuclear waste.
But now scientists and nuclear experts have made a new type of reactor which uses nuclear waste and turns it into electricity. These reactors are called “Fast Reactors” and instead of dipping uranium rods in water it dips them in sodium and does not leave any waste behind. Fast reactors are not a great renewable energy source they are the best solution for getting rid of massive stockpiles of nuclear waste.
Biogas is produced with the breakdown of organic matter such as plant material, manure, municipal waste and food waste etc in the lack of oxygen. Primarily bio-gas is methane, carbon dioxide and very little amount of hydrogen sulfide. Biogas is a cheap and environment friendly alternative of fossil fuels and it can easily be produced especially in rural areas.
Biofuel on the other hand is produced from different crops and algae using the same process but it is in liquid from, the most common type of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. The only drawback of producing biofuel is that it takes a lot of land to mass produce the crops used in producing bio-fuel.
3. Solar Power
Our planet is powered by the sun most forms of plant life and animal life is directly dependent on the sun, even our climate is powered by the heat of the sun. So it was extremely logical to utilize solar power to fulfill the energy needs of the constantly developing world. Solar power is the one of the best renewable energy source available today and it is also the most widely used.
In recent years the cost of solar power has decreased by 25% and new and improved solar panels and solar power houses designs it is becoming possible to produce huge amounts of electricity from relatively small amount of space. The potential of solar power is so high that just one square mile of area hit with solar energy is equal to 4 million barrels of oil.
2. Wind Power
Wind power is harnessed by using the power of wind to turn the turbines which then produce electricity by mechanically powering the generators. It is one of the cleanest renewable energy source being used today. Wind Farms are constructed near beaches, in the oceans and on mountains, areas with high probability of winds.
Like sunshine, wind is also flows all around the globe and it can easily be harnessed in almost every part of the world, however some areas are more suitable than others. Countries like Denmark have successfully used wind turbines to completely power their country for a few months.
1. Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion is the holy grail of nuclear power, because once achieved it will produce energy equivalent to the sun down here on Earth. Unlike nuclear fission which works by splitting the atom, nuclear fusion two or more atomic nuclei join to form a different atomic nuclei, enormous amount of energy is released as a result which can be harnessed to fulfill the energy needs of the world.
Currently it takes more energy to perform a successful fusion then it will produce in return, this is mainly due to the fact that it is extremely hard to stabilize the reaction for long. Currently seven countries are working on a project called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER, the main objective of this mega project is to achieve the ability to harness the power created by nuclear fusion.