Do you understand the complex nature!
To understand why we need an efficient alternative energy global strategy, just imagine a room with a couple of people that smoke. It is a smoking room, so no problem in what they are doing, and their health is of their concern. After a while,more smokers come to join the first two.At an instance, there are about ten people smoking in the same room. More people arrive. The air is no longer breathable. Somebody thinks of opening the window.However, the room has no windows! The room is planet Earth. It is a room with no windows because we cannot just open our atmosphere and let the harmful gases out.We no longer provide for ourselves. We live in a system that provides. Our basic needs require the involvement of institutions and companies. TVs, microwave ovens,computers, are all common things to our lives. We also require hot water and we are accustomed to have it whenever we wish.The vehicles that take us from here to there require fuel. All of these were invented sometime in the past. When we were fewer. When they were luxury. Now they are available to anyone. And this puts a lot more pressure on the environment. Because the few people that had access to them in the past are now a lot.Moreover, there was no problem when there were only a few people that created the gases, because there was plenty more room inside. However, as many more gained access to the “smoking room” and started “smoking” in there, they could no longer stand the air inside, even if they were used to such an environment. This is where we are heading. Towards a world spoiled by our own habits. There are some that say that we still have enough time to fix things. There are others who say that all we can do is to stop harming our planet.A few people depending on fossil fuels are not as problematic as billions of us doing so. Once upon a time, there was only one car in the world. The first one. Also, there once was only one factory, one power plant and so on. They were few and the consequences of their activity were not visible.Nowadays, the consequences are visible. The issue of global warming can no longer be ignored. The issue of pollution can no longer be ignored. It is hard to imagine that our ancestors once managed to cope with their natural surroundings by simply using sun for light and heat, the wind to sail, while the force of water washed and ground their grain.Of course our needs as a society are now different from what we had centuries ago,but we need to face the facts: the age of fossil fuels is close to its end. This is for two reasons. First, petrol and coal deposits are getting scarce. Second, because of their mass usage they become harmful for our health and for the health of our planet.Official, credible statistics show us that we use fossil fuels to create over 90 percent of our world’s energy. But just as fossil fuel powered machines were invented to make our lives more comfortable and easy, other means of producing energy are required in order to keep to the standards we are accustomed to, while not destroying our Planet.One of the main arguments to develop alternative solar-based technology (just like wind, or water based ones) is the fact that most of the oil supplies the western world needs comes from unstable regions of the world.There is over 10 trillion metric tons of coal underneath our ground, worldwide.Enough to last us for several hundred years. However, petroleum and natural gas deposits get alarmingly low. They would last for 100 years, at most. Reachable petroleum and gas reserves will be depleted by the end of this century. There are deposits, way beneath the earth’s surface, but we do not have the required technologies to extract them. It would be excessively expensive to do so. It would not worth it.The truth is that if fossil fuels would suddenly disappear, civilization as we know it would come to an end. The good thing is that we already know that fossil fuels reserves are getting scarcer, and technologies meant to replace them are being developed. The process to completely replace fossil fuels from our daily lives will take decades. There are billions of people using fossil fuels to power their daily life activities. Millions of these use their own fossil-fueled generators to do so.On the other hand, over two billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity, because there are no power grids or energy systems to link them to this common utility.However, this is one of the top advantages that renewable energy has over conventional energy: solar technologies can provide energy to these communities,because even if these people have no access to pipes or power grids, they have sunlight.The invention that transforms sunlight into power, the PVs (photovoltaic) cells can increase electricity availability around the globe. Besides sunlight, wind and water power can also be harvested and used to power our machines. Lots of effort and money also goes into bio-fuels, because they also help us on our quest to self sufficiency.Fossil fuel power plants or systems are not an option for the future, period. We are no longer in the 19th century where only the few, chosen ones, have access to energy.We are too many to keep it up this way. There will simply not be enough fuel to keep us all going. Moreover, even if it were enough fuel, the consequences of using it would be catastrophic.Those in the business of selling electricity however don’t think that much about pollution and people, as much as they think about profit. And even for them, the fossil fuels reserves getting scarcer is a huge wake-up call: “The world is changing; I need to keep up with the trend if I am to keep my fortune”. Indeed, fossil fuel–powered plants are not economical, simply because they waste more than 50 percent of the primary energy - thermal losses. Moreover, the energy produced reaches the owner through a system of pipes and transmission lines, which adds up to the costs.The failure of these systems was first proved by the fact that most of the people installed their own heating units instead of remaining linked to national networks.There was a time when small plants or personal energy units nearly vanished from the scene. This was because the giant power plants dominated the landscape. The top of their reign was during the 60’s to 80’s. It seemed that there was no way to develop and deploy small and dispersed alternatives.2. SOLUTIONS TO OUR PROBLEM Scientists develop more efficient ways to generate electricity. There is lot of money spent on making fossil fuels less polluting and even more money on developing new ways of producing energy. There are some that say that the big energy companies throughout the world, the “giants” are the ones that started to invest in such“alternative” energy resources, because they already know that the time of the “fossil fuel currency” has ended. True, indeed.Due to technological progress, renewable energy is more affordable now than it wasat the beginning of the ‘90s, or back in the ‘70s, when theories about the need to develop alternative sources of energy emerged.Statistics show that renewable energy is now even cheaper than it used to be. One kilowatt-hour (kwh) of energy produced by wind turbines used to cost 40 cents, but it now only costs less than 5 cents. Other renewable energy sources became more affordable too. Sun energy, for instance, harvested by photovoltaic cells used to cost$1 per kilowatt-hour in the ‘80s, but it now only costs about 20 cents, and ethanol fuel prices went down from $4 per gallon to $1.20.Alternative technology is not yet widespread. They now cost more than the “classical”methods. But, as stated above, we are just at the beginning of a new, alternative energy based, industrial revolution. And it is not like we have a choice. Pollution reached a critical status in the 21st century. Humankind has the power and started changing the planet it lives on. It has to be more responsible in doing that. It has reached this stage of maturity.The new age, the one of alternative energy is just at its beginning. And this means that many other people can stand a chance in finding out ways not to be “eaten” by the system they will create. Some of us search energy independence (or freedom),other simply want a healthier way of life. Whichever you want to achieve, now is the time. What is now a type of technology that not everyone has access to – alternative energy systems – is in fact humankind’s way of growing up and truly coping with nature. Earth’s most remote locations can be an ace up our sleeve. The reason is that these locations are areas where we can set out huge networks of solar panels and wind turbines. These deserts, windy locations, offshore sea sites and streams can contribute widely to the world’s alternative energy development. This way,wastelands could be put to use.There is no guarantee we can manage with our petroleum or gas reserves for more than one hundred years, if human kind’s energy needs keep growing on the same rate. Nuclear energy is definitely not the only admissible alternative nuclear energy resource.As far as wind is concerned, the main drawback is that a wind turbine requires a lot of space. An average wind farm requires 17 acres to produce 1 MW of electricity, so this would mean 17 acres to produce electricity for 750 to 1000 homes. Indeed,people can use the land beneath wind turbines. Many bird deaths have been reported because they collided with wind turbines and wires, and this is another minus.As shown in the previous paragraph, there are some drawbacks to renewable energy development. But there also are others. For instance, like in the case of wind turbines, solar thermal generation requires a lot of land and it may affect the habitat.One of the reasons is that there may be spills of the fluid used for solar thermal generation is often toxic. Even if photovoltaic cells produce non-toxic and non pollutant energy, they themselves are produced with the same technologies as the ones used to create silicon chips for computers, within a process that uses toxic chemicals.However, efficient alternative energy systems, and renewable energies can successfully replace everything fossil fuels offer in terms of energy services.3. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. WHERE FROM?There was no time when there was no energy. Moreover, energy exists and can not be created or destroyed. It can only be transformed into one form or another. But this is not a philosophical lecture. The point of the previous statement is that the only thing that changed in time was the way we used energy and the type of energy we use for certain things we do. For example, we once used sails to powerboats, now we use petrol-based fuels.As far as energy transformation is concerned, there are several other simple examples: when you put batteries into a flashlight, and you turn on the flashlight, you transform the battery’s chemical energy into light energy. The same, telephones transform voice into electrical energy variations, which flow over wires or are transmitted through air.Cars change chemical energy into kinetic energy because they use fuel to move.Humans and animals also transform chemical energy from “fuel” (aka food) into kinetic energy.There is a lot of solar energy that reaches the earth but is not put to any use. Mostly,we only use solar energy for basic needs: to see things during the day. But it also provides heat and it the amount of it that falls on certain places of the earth causes season change, wind, rain, waves. The sun is the fuel of life. It is what the energy chain is based on. For example, plants need sunlight to survive. After a plant’s life cycle ends, the biomass can be used to produce electricity and fuel.As far as alternative energy is concerned, it can also be provided by hydrogen,extracted from water. Such technologies are still at their beginning, but researchers insist on developing hydrogen based alternative energy technologies because Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth.However, it does not occur naturally in a gas, as it always combines with other elements. Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, for example. However, if hydrogen is separated from oxygen, or from other components, it can be burned as a fuel or converted into electricity. That is why you might have heard of water-fueled engines. Because of the sun, water evaporation generates a cycle that, in turn, generates the largest source of renewable electricity we have today. The moon also can produce energy, because of the tidal flows.One of the most powerful and common source of energy is solar energy. It has forever been used to light our lives and heat our days. We can nowadays use it to heat, cool, and light the places our activities take place. Come to think of it, the main fuels we use today are nothing but stored solar energy. Sunlight is the main ingredient in most of the fuels existent on our planet. Coal, oil, gas, they are all made out of decayed plants that used sunlight for photosynthesis. Moreover, another important “daily fuel” is water. Our bodies mostly consist in water.Our planet is covered with water over 70 percent of its surface. All of the oceans combined have about 328 million cubic miles (361.2 quintillion gallons) of water. The surface of the global Ocean actually plays the role of a huge mirror. This mirror can absorb the light of the sun and can be used to “gather” energy. The ocean’s water can also be used in many other ways to produce power. But it is quite impressing how much energy the world oceans absorb – the equivalent of 250 billion oil barrels.Wind has forever been used as energy. Mostly, when we say wind energy, we imagine wind turbines or windmills. There are many parts of the world where wind is very powerful and can be used to generate sufficient power to supply the needs of communities. The wind turbines used to harness the power of the wind are about 100 feet tall and catch the wind's energy with their propellers.4. RENEWABLE vs. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY Scientists debated on whether the time and date the fossil fuels will run out is relevant or not. Most of them say the date is not relevant, and that a lot of effort should be invested into making renewable energy technologies better. The reason why the ending date is not relevant is because no matter how many resources one might have, there is no such thing as “unlimited supply”. However, renewable sources of energy are unlimited, simply because they are part of a repeatable process and they do not run out. Moreover, they do far too little damage to the environment and do not need to be restricted.Solar, wind, biomass, and tides, which are all renewable resources, are based directly or indirectly on solar energy, as we have argued during the previous paragraphs. Hydroelectric and geothermal resources are also renewable, but only up to a certain point. They need to be carefully managed because they can cause severe ecological damage.As long as we have sun, wind, water and plants, and as long as we will produce garbage (which can be used as fuel), we have renewable energy. The only challenge we face is to develop the technology to efficiently harness this energy. Statistics show that the sunlight that falls on the United States in one day contains more than twice the energy the country normally consumes in a year. Moreover, California has enough wind gusts to produce 11% of the world’s wind electricity.The environment is unable to absorb all the greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere. In USA, 81 percent of these gases are created by energy sources –plants, engines, machines that create energy. The sort of energy that mainly profits from greenhouse gases concerns is nuclear industry. This sort of energy does not produce any greenhouse gases but the toxic waste it creates is very dangerous. However, along with admitting the need of energy policy change, a question arose: “is nuclear energy the win-win solution?” Renewable energy is the type of energy that has the most reduced impact over the environment and it also has an increased degree of security regarding the resource supply. What is an ace up its sleeve but also a minus is the fact that every part of the world has its own alternative, renewable potential fuels. Since there is no single common fuel, global compatibility might be a challenge. A small one, nevertheless,but still a challenge. Renewable energy is open for suggestions, in the way that it allows for local solutions, and offers sustainable energy development worldwide.Statistics show that if we could harness the wind all over the world, we could provide enough energy to cover humankind’s need in the year of 2020! Solar energy that reaches the surface of our planet equals 90,000,000 million tons of oil. Therefore, if Earth was a solar battery it would be a battery that provided 10,000 times the world total primary energy supply. Not all this energy can be harnessed. However, the good news is that technology develops quickly and new opportunities arise.