energy is an umbrella term that refers to any
source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the
undesired consequences of the replaced fuels. Typically, official uses
of the term, such as qualification for governmental incentives, exclude
fossil fuels and nuclear energy whose undesired consequences are high
carbon dioxide emissions, the major contributing factor of global
warming according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and
difficulties of radioactive waste disposal.
Over the years, the nature of what was regarded alternative energy sources has changed considerably, and today because of the variety of energy choices and differing goals of their advocates, defining some energy types as "alternative" is highly controversial.
The term "alternative" presupposes a set of undesirable energy technologies against which "alternative energies" are opposed. As such, the list of energy technologies excluded is an indicator of what problems that the alternative technologies are intended to address. Controversies regarding dominant forms of energy and their alternatives have a long history.
Geothermal Power as Alternative Energy
We should be doing everything possible to develop geothermal energy technologies. This is a largely untapped area of tremendous alternative energy potential, as it simply taps the energy being naturally produced by the Earth herself. Vast amounts of power are present below the surface crust on which we move and have our being. All we need do is tap into it and harness it.
At the Earths' core, the temperature is 60 times greater than that of water being boiled. The tremendous heat creates pressures that exert themselves only a couple of miles below us, and these pressures contain huge amounts of energy. Superheated fluids in the form of magma, which we see the power and energy of whenever there is a volcanic eruption, await our tapping.
These fluids also trickle to the surface as steam and emerge from vents. We can create our own vents, and we can create out own containment chambers for the magma and convert all of this energy into electricity to light and heat our homes.
In the creation of a geothermal power plant, a well would be dug where there is a good source of magma or heated fluid. Piping would be fitted down into the source, and the fluids forced to the surface to produce the needed steam. The steam would turn a turbine engine, which would generate the electricity.
There are criticisms of geothermal energy tapping which prevent its being implemented on the large scale which it should be. Critics say that study and research to find a resourceful area is too costly and takes up too much time. Then there is more great expense needed to build a geothermal power plant, and there is no promise of the plant turning a profit.
Some geothermal sites, once tapped, might be found to not produce a large enough amount of steam for the power plant to be viable or reliable.
And we hear from the environmentalists who worry that bringing up magma can bring up potentially harmful materials along with it.
However, the great benefits of geothermal energy would subsume these criticisms if only we would explore it more. The fact that geothermal energy is merely the energy of the Earth herself means it does not produce any pollutants.
Geothermal energy is extremely efficient - the efforts needed to channel it are minimal after a site is found and a plant is set up. Geothermal plants, furthermore, do not need to be as large as electrical plants, giant dams, or atomic energy facilities - the environment would thus be less disrupted.
And, needless to say, it is an alternative form of energy - using it would mean we become that much less dependent on oil and coal. Perhaps most importantly of all - we are never, ever going to run out of geothermal energy, and it is not a commodity that would continuously become more expensive in terms of real dollars as time passes, since it is ubiquitous. Geothermal energy would be, in the end, very cheap, after investigation and power plant building costs are recouped.
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... power plants can put out up to 1000 kilowatts of electrical energy. In Japan, the small-scaled mini- and micro-hydroelectric power plants have been regarded for a considerable time as being suitable for creating electricity in mountainous regions, but they have through refinement come to be regarded as ...
... energy power sources that we need as we sail into the 21st century and beyond. Analysts predict that by 2013, the alternative energy industry will be a $13 billion dollar industry in today's dollars. This figure bespeaks an enormous return on investment. Indeed, if you were to invest in a start-up alternative ...
... miles below the earth's surface. This energy is produced by the heating of water through the actions of earth's fantastically hot molten core. The water turns to steam, which can be harnessed and used to drive turbine engines which in turn generate electricity. Great amounts of research and development ...
... the earth. OTEC is a potential alternative energy source that needs to be funded and explored much more than it presently is. The great hurdle to get over with OTEC implementation on a wide and practically useful level is cost. It is difficult to get the costs down to a reasonable level because of the ...
... University's joint research with other agencies including Shell, the US Department of Energy, the Common Purpose Institute, and groups of various individuals who are working to develop alternative energy sources (those not dependent on fossil fuels) for the future. This research is focused on the planting ...
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