Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Alternative Energy Sources

In the future, we can assume our electrical needs will be just as great as they are now, and likely greater. However, this means we will have to be careful. Many of the sources of energy we use are non-renewable, meaning that we can't get more after we've used up what we have. One non-renewable energy source is fossil fuels. These are resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. We are using these up quickly, and once they are done, there will be no more for thousands of years. Not only are they being used up quickly, their use contributes to global warming. We need to find alternative sources of power.

One possible source of power is nuclear energy. We can convert a tiny amount of nuclear mass into a lot of energy, and it does not pollute. However, nuclear power plants are expensive, the waste left over remains radioactive for thousands of years, and accidents can have huge impacts on the environment.

Another possibility is tidal power plants. These use the power from waves and water to generate electricity. The use of this sort of power is limited to coastal areas, but the earth's surface is mostly water, so we don't need to worry about running out any time soon. However, these types of power plants affect marine life and harm coastlines. Hydroelectric power, where the power of rivers is harnessed to produce electricity, is not limited to coastal areas and produces no pollution, but it requires an expensive dam to be built and interferes with fish migration.

Wind power is an option. Wind turbines are used in open areas and produce a lot of power. However, the wind doesn't blow every day. The power of the sun is also a possibility. Solar cells convert the sun's rays into electrical energy, but they are expensive and require direct sunlight.

While we figure out which power sources are best, we need to be more careful of our energy consumption. We won't have fossil fuels forever, and we need to take care of our environment.