With the increased demand for power in the past several decades, there have been many advancements in alternative energy sources. Renewable power is the preferred option for many businesses and individuals who are trying to both reduce their impact on the environment and save money. Understanding all the different ways that power can be generated is an important step in being a savvy and educated consumer, but it can be overwhelming to learn the basics of energy production. If you want to learn more but don’t know where to begin, here’s an explanation of the top alternative energy sources used today.
- Solar panels
These panels are installed on the ground or a roof. The surface of the panel tracks the sun as it moves through the sky during the day to maximize exposure to the sun’s rays. A tilt of zero degrees means the panel is flat, facing the sky, and this usually happens around the middle of the day when the sun is at the highest point. Sun tracking solar panels require a solar panel mounting system to hold the panels in place and protect them from becoming disoriented with changes in weather. A solar panel mounting system is also important to regulate heat beneath the panels, because it can get very hot while the system is harvesting solar electricity from the sun.
- Wind turbines
Wind turbines generate electricity by converting wind energy into power. Wind power is a great source of alternative energy because it is readily available, clean, and does not produce emissions that harm the environment. Wind farms are locations that have several wind turbines arranged in a large area. Each one is connected to a power network that puts power into the electric grid to be used to power homes and businesses. Wind turbines are an inexpensive source of power but are not always favored by residents who live nearby, because they alter the visuals of the natural landscape.
Hydroelectricity is electricity generated by the force of moving water. It is a low cost option for renewable energy and is the most widely used form of alternative energy worldwide. Hydroelectric stations produce no waste and have lower emissions than traditional power plants. To generate hydroelectric power, a dam is constructed in a river and it is connected to a water turbine and a generator. Hydropower is generated when moving water hits the water turbine and causes movement, and this is converted into electricity. A greater volume of water creates more power. Although no waste is produced, installing a water power station in a river can disrupt the local ecosystem and harm wildlife.
Biofuel is fuel derived from living organisms, such as plants. Biofuel is sometimes added to diesel to lower overall levels of carbon monoxide and other emissions. Ethanol fuel is a common biofuel that is produced by fermenting sugars from corn, wheat, sugar cane, and other plants. The product is then distilled, dried and used as a fuel that can power vehicles and machinery. The production of biofuels requires significant land to grow the plant starting material, and the widespread use of biofuels hasn’t caught on yet because there are controversies surrounding the high demand for land. There are concerns about the environmental impact of biofuels, and this form of energy is still in development.
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