What Will Be the Alternative Sources of Energy in the Future?
The race is on to find the hidden gem and the next renewable energy source.
We are currently living in a very exciting time where we are witnessing the transition of the world from dirty fossil fuels to more renewable and clean energy sources.
There are already several renewable green clean energy sources being developed across the world today.
But why is there a sudden change away from fossil fuels?
Well, for one, we are quickly running out of them. Some analysts believe that we have already hit peak oil and that the global production will more or less decline year on year. While there is considerably more coal and gas, they are still extremely finite resources, and for that reason, experts can also foresee peak coal and gas too.
Next, burning fossil fuels emits both air pollution and greenhouse gases. The main problem with air pollution is that it is strangling cities and towns across the world with smog, while greenhouse gases contribute to the ever-growing climate crisis, with the by-products of this being the two biggest contributions to global warming.
So, the race is on to find the hidden gem and the next renewable energy source, but what could it possibly be? We have put together a list of options which may emerge to be the big players of the future.
The sun is the most obvious source of energy and using it is something that is being constantly looked in to. With every hour, more solar energy reaches the Earth than humans use in an entire calendar year. There is new technology being developed to help us harvest this high intensity, uninterrupted energy from space – an idea which is literally out of this world.
This main idea is to set up massive solar panels and mirrors in outer space and in turn it will collect huge amounts of solar energy, this will be transmitted in much smaller solar collectors. Following this, the solar energy will be beamed back down to Earth using a laser or microwave technology.
If you aren’t aware of this then this might worry you, but fear not. You may have seen devices that harness energy from humans. Electrical devices such as mobile phones, calculators and remote controls are being designed to take energy away from humans and then use it in order to recharge themselves.
The thought of your mobile phone using your energy to charge itself may be pretty frightening but it is safe and it is a lot nearer to happening than most people think. The phone would use a human’s body heat to recharge its batteries, while also movement while inside your bag, in your pocket and even moving your fingers across the screen would also charge the device. You can charge your phone by using it.
Another avenue which is being explored is the option to use energy from waves and ocean currents; this could be in turn converted into electrical energy.
This would see ocean currents used in a similar way to the way that hydroelectricity is produced. Tidal power would be a very reliable way to produce energy and would be massively cost-effective compared to other options. It would cost roughly half the price that solar and wind energies cost, this is down to the option to convert kinetic energy into electricity form from the constant motion of the ocean.
You may be a little surprised to see this on the list and you may be questioning how the simplest and most plentiful element can be used to fuel cars and power the entirety of our homes.
It comes as a surprise to many but despite the simplicity of hydrogen, it is still a high energy fuel source. When it is burnt alone, it produces next to no pollution whatsoever, with liquid hydrogen also used by NASA to fuel its rockets and space shuttles, and this has been the case since the 70’s. Hydrogen can be separated and then converted into separate fuel cells which can then be used to produce electricity.
This is the heat from beneath the Earth’s surface and can also be used to produce clean, green electrical energy. Sources, where geothermal energy can be found, include hot rocks or lava, with the source already being used to power millions of homes around the world.
Along with creating electricity, geothermal energy can be used to heat homes, as well as produce hot water and can be used to turn water to steam in order to turn turbines and create electrical energy.
This is one of the most obvious options on the list, with nuclear power plants extracting energy from the nuclei of atoms through nuclear reactions. It is then converted into electrical energy. There is a lot of work ongoing to find new technology to increase efficiency and create safer nuclear reactors. The big aim of this would be to make nuclear power plants less wasteful and safer than ever for the environment and for those that work there.
Although this is already a popular way to generate clean electricity, the power plans usually operate with a very rare type of uranium (U-235), so the inclusion of nuclear energy as a renewable energy source is a subject which is often hotly debated.
Biofuels take their energy from biological beings, with the energy derived during a process which is called biological carbon fixation. In a way they are very similar to fossil fuels, the main difference being that biological organisms need a lot longer to turn into fossils.
This process takes either months or years. Although bio-diesel has around 90% of the energy content of petroleum diesel, it burns a whole lot cleaner than fossil fuels.
The bigger question would be, how long will it actually be until we see these future energy sources, and when will they become dominant? If we hope to avoid all the effects of global warming, it would need to be sooner rather than later.