ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESOURCES

DR. S. M. ALAM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Dec 12 - 18, 20
11

Alternate energy refers to any of a large number of sources of energy that do not depend on fossil fuels or nuclear power to give outputs.

A short list of these technologies would include solar, wind, rain tides, hydro, hydrogen, and geothermal power, biomass.

The main goal of alternative energy research is to provide a low-cost source of energy that does not rely on unsustainable resources such as coal or oil.

The resources that cannot be depleted provide a way to meet the needs of a growing civilization without the negative environment impact.

The best type of solar energy to use in an area depends largely on the geography of that area. Desert lands, for instance, receive more than enough sunlight to make use of solar energy, but might have a hard time implementing a hydroelectric energy source.

Scientists continue to work on several sources of renewable energy, which will lead to better energy solutions in the future.

Alternative energy saves natural resources and it is environmentally superior to conventional coal and oil. Wind, flowing water, energy conservation, and geothermal heating are ancient, but now employ new advanced technology.

Technologies such as solar cells, hydrogen and fuel cells and ocean energy are relatively new. The present cost effectiveness of some of the newest technologies varies.

Types of alternative energy throughout history have included coal, petroleum, and alcohol. In the 21st century, these alternative sources have included bio-energy and bio-fuels such as palm oil, ethanol, and other low carbon alternatives.

Controversies regarding dominant sources of energy and their alternatives have a long history. The nature of what was regarded alternative energy sources has changed considerably over time, and today, because of the variety of energy choices and differing goals of their advocates, defining some energy types as alternative is highly controversial.

Fossil fuels take so much time to form and machines and power plants that use them have been found to be major emitters of carbon dioxide, and hence may be causing global warming.

Nuclear energy, on the other hand, is difficult to dispose without putting communities in the nearby surroundings at risk. Because of these reasons, concerned sectors are pushing governments to explore alternative energy sources.

Most of the preferred sources are renewable, i.e., easily replenished. Hence, they may come out cheaper in the end. Since their carbon footprint is not as high as fossil fuels, they are considered friendly to the environment.

Some alternative energy sources are ocean tides, underwater currents, wind, and the sun.

Biomass energy discovers ways to use corn, corn stalks, wheat, pinecones, and twigs to generate fuel to heat home or drive vehicle. The technology has been around for over 100 years.

Anything that decomposes or burns can be used to generate energy.

Hydrogen gas is a completely clean burning fuel; its only by-product is water. It also contains relatively high amount of energy compared with other fuels due to its chemical structure. This process is known as biological hydrogen production. It requires the use of single celled organisms to create hydrogen gas through fermentation.

Hydropower refers to power obtained from the flow of moving water. It's one of the oldest forms of power generation. The earliest forms, of course, were water wheels. These have been in use for at least 2000 years.

In past, water wheels created mechanical energy to turn shafts to accomplish tasks such as grinding grain or sawing wood. The energy had to be used at the point of production.

Today, hydropower plants use turbines to generate electricity. The energy can be transported from the river of origin to where it's needed.

Geothermal energy is another fascinating alternative source of energy. Like wind, it can produce energy on either a small or large scale. On a small scale, geothermal heat pumps provide very effective home heating. On a large scale, some parts of the world have geology that allows geothermal energy to produce electricity on a large scale. For example, the Philippines already produce 25 per cent of electricity from geothermal powered plants.

Bio diesel energy is created out of the oils contained in plants. So far, the commercial stores of bio diesel have been created using soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils. At the time of this writing, bio diesel is typically produced by entrepreneurs or those who want to experiment with alternative energy, but commercial interest is also on the rise. It burns much cleaner than oil-based diesel.

Wind energy is a popular alternative energy resource. Though not a reliable resource for every household, it is a viable option for many depending on our location. In the present day world, the dispersing wind has been proved as a powerful natural source for generating electricity in most countries of the world, where the powerful wind resource is available.

Around the world, the renewable energies targets have been set and the last decade saw an immense increase in the world wind energy output. To generate any measurable power from wind, we need strong wind speed, of more than five meters per second. Another problem with the speed of the wind is that it should be steady and consistent throughout the day.

China, which generates more than 3,450MW from wind, has an impressive record of 156 per cent increase of wind energy during recent years. Spain is producing 15,100MW (40 per cent of energy needs) from wind. The United States of America has seen great boom in the last decade and generates 19,540 MW from on-land and offshore wind farms. The US has vast areas of seashores from Maine State in the East to Washington State in the West. The USA has started its wind energy mill in 1940 and Europe in 1923. At present, there are 28 European countries full of natural resources and having brotherly relations. Denmark is producing 8312MW through coastal wind.

A number of other countries including Italy, the UK, Holland, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Japan etc. have crossed the 3,000MW mark of installed capacity.

Wind energy is generated by controlling the wind through windmills or wind turbines. In other words, wind energy can be defined as the force of winds blowing across the earth's surface.

Pakistan has a long coastal belt of 1050 kilometers from Sindh to Balochistan, which is highly suitable for wind energy generation. To generate power from wind, we need strong wind speed of more than six meters per second.

In the long coastal areas, the winnowing wind blows from March to October in almost normal speed. Due to its ideal geographical location, Pakistan possesses immense potential to harness unlimited solar and wind energy.

The average wind speeds of about six meters per second are available in most of the coastal areas in Sindh and Balochistan as well as in a few northern valleys of KPK and AJK which are suitable for producing electricity.