The oil and gas industry has long been the largest and most efficient supplier of energy globally. However, as the demand for energy continues to rise, the non-renewable energy sources have been depleting, leaving industries to turn to alternative sources of energy. As more and more oil reserves get exhausted, it is becoming increasingly difficult for even the most developed countries to carry out deeper sea explorations in complex areas in search for more. Although they are doing this, it has cost them tremendously in terms of the negative environmental impact and spending big bucks on procuring hi-tech machinery products from steel pipe suppliers and the steel industry in general.
Several renewable sources of energy, besides the commonly used solar energy and natural gas can help us meet the rising demand of energy supply in a way that is eco-friendly and without getting depleted. Many large scale renewable energy projects are up and running in different parts of the world since quite some time. The great thing about this technology is that besides large scale production, it is also suitable for small scale operations in rural areas, where the problem of power shortage occurs frequently hampering their quick development.
In this post, we would be looking at the top 5 alternative sources of energy (besides solar and natural gas) that are being used currently and expected to help furthermore in meeting future requirements.
Tidal power is generated through tidal generators, which are similar to wind turbines. These operate underwater and move with the help of speedily flowing water. These generators are also environment-friendly and do not harm established ecosystems. Tidal power has been harnessed only to a limited extent currently, but they have shown great potential for meeting electricity demands in future. This is the only energy that originates from the motion of the moon with respect to Earth’s rotation. Additionally, since it is easy to predict tides, there is great scope for using this energy as technology evolves and is being tipped to be the next big thing in the world of energy generation.
In the past, wind energy has been used to push sailing ships and for pumping water (mechanical energy). However, since the last few years it is being used in the production of wind power - an eco-friendly renewable energy with negligible impact on the environment. Wind power requires the conversion of wind energy into a usable form (mechanical energy or electric energy) through wind turbines in wind farms, which are connected to local power grids that provide power in all those areas. Recently it was reported that the total amount of available wind energy in the year 2013 was 318,137 megawatts as compared to a mere 6,100 megawatts in 1996.
This form of energy is generated by converting kinetic energy from the flow of falling water into electrical energy. This is done at hydroelectric plants, usually at dams, with the help of a hydraulic turbine that is connected to generators. The great thing about such plants is that they do not produce any waste as when the water leaves the turbines, it returns back to the riverbed under the dam. Constructing hydroelectric plants do not cause any apparent harm to the ecology and neither have they caused disturbance to fish migration. In the year 2012, hydropower alone accounted for 16% of the world’s electricity production.
Biomass is another word for energy produced through plants or other organic matter that are grown to generate electricity. Some examples of such biodegradable matter are dead trees, branches, leaves, wood and also animal matter. All these can be burnt as fuel and hence, biomass serves as an excellent sustainable fuel source. It does not add carbon dioxide to the environment as it absorbs the same amount of carbon while it is grown as it releases when it is burnt for fuel. It can be used to generate electricity in power plants that are used to burn fossil fuels. After oil, gas and coal, biomass is considered as the most important source of energy.
Geothermal power is generated by using the heat from the earth in the production of electricity. This heat can be sourced from various sources like the hot springs and hot rock found a few miles below the Earth's surface, and even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma. Geothermal power is environment-friendly, cost-effective and a reliable source of energy. Till recently the reach of this energy was limited to regions near the tectonic plates, but technology has made it possible to increase the reach of this resource, especially for direct uses such as home heating.
Much technology is being developed to exploit these renewable energy sources to their maximum potential. Tapping these sources could spare us a lot of concerns and prove to be a boon not just to the environment, but also to the human society.