Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waste Generation From Alternative Energy Sources

For many years we have been trying to get away from using fossil fuels and old inefficient electrical grinds. But, the move toward the widespread use of alternative energy sources has been a history of stop and goes attempts. Research and development of new technologies are needed for use to find cost-effective ways to harness this seemingly endless supply of clean, natural energy.

The most talked about form of alternative energy resources we can tap is wind power. The development and engineering of wind turbines continues to improve as the popularity, aka capital funding availability, spreads among the business community. In fact "wind farms" have begun to spring up across the world. The biggest issues with these wind farms are the noise vibration they emit and the danger to birds. No complete research has been completed to understand how the low ultrasonic vibrations may affect other wildlife; or humans.

Growing in popularity is solar energy. It is abundant and easy to capture for alternative energy use. The manufacturing of solar cells has rapidly developed with multiple uses adapted for small and even large scale applications. These solar cells gather the light energy given off by the sun which can be easily converted into electricity. It also is widely used to naturally generate hot water. Solar energy joins wind energy as alternative energy sources that create zero pollution. That is if you don't count sound or landscape alterations as pollution.

The largest and most abundant alternative energy source on earth is water. Governments and scientists backed by investors have been studying wave energy and the potential to tap it for clean energy. France has been operating a generator for a few years to study this potential and initial reports are promising.

The ocean is not the primary focus for water based alternative energy. Electricity has been generated from hydroelectric plants for almost a century. Places on earth that have a ready supply of adequate water sources such as rivers and lakes are in perfect position to generate clean energy. The issue becomes more complicated when a dam needs to be generated to create sufficient water flow to power the generators. Dams are not friendly to the wildlife and organisms in the area a dam may be built.

More recent technological advancements have opened the door to consider new alternative energy sources.

The first of these energy sources is energy we can create from the waste that people generate every day. Consider the number of landfills and expended oils. Methane gas can be captured and used to power generators. Not exactly "clean" gas but cleaner that coal and heavy oil. Waste oils from industrial and food consumption is likewise usually dumped. These waste oils can be used to power heaters and boilers to produce heat and steam as a power source.

Though the use of ethanol seems to have a very negative impact on the world's fuel supply it may prove beneficial in areas that can't efficiently tap into hydropower. We can't afford to use or food sources of wheat, sugarcane, grapes, strawberries and corn to provide us fuel when we need the nourishment for our personal source of energy. Likewise the consumption of soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower oils for bio diesel production is causing havoc on the world's food supply.

You can't discuss alternative energy without mentioning atomic energy from nuclear power plants. There is no alternative energy source that neither is as efficient nor can generate the enormous amount of clean pure energy than nuclear power. The waste product is the expended atomic energy that remains radioactive for hundreds of years. The amount of this waste product however, is minuscule relative to waste generated from other alternative energy sources.

You cannot create energy without some form of waste generation.

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