Alternative Energy Solutions Go Beyond Solar

admin | Uncategorized | Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Solar power has received a lot of press lately. However, it is far from the only alternative energy solution out there.

Wind power is one of the ‘big things’ right now. The current trend is to build wind turbines off shore in shallow water. In theory, they are in nobody’s way out there, although they are sometimes visible from ocean or lakeside resorts and some people complain that they interrupt the view. Wind power is best utilized where there is a steady prevailing wind. Also, turbines have to be located out of the flight path of migratory birds who may fail to see the blades and fly into them.Didn’t catch that? This explains it.

Wave power remains on the edge of commercial viability, but is under development off Scotland and the Pacific Northwest. The cost is too high to compete with traditional fuels, but is slowly coming down. Tidal barrages have also been toyed with but only one exists in Europe and the environmental issues connected to them make them less likely as an option. They have similar problems to large hydroelectric dams, in that they mess up the tide flow and cause problems for wading birds.

Finally, much research is going into the use of biofuels. These include biodiesel, ethanol and the use of animal waste to produce methane to generate electricity. However, they compete with food production for land. Ethanol has been associated with higher corn and meat prices and in some places, the use of soy-based biodiesel has accelerated rainforest destruction. Creating biofuels out of waste material is a far better solution that is still somewhat in the future.

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