Thursday, October 30, 2008

Renewable Power and Alternative Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

By: Steve D Evans

Renewable energy is the centerpiece of eco-energy planning. Yet all renewable energy sources are not created equal and some are far more sustainable in the long term than others. We will explore the available types of renewable energy considering the advantages and disadvantage as we go.

However are we all clear about the difference, such as it is between renewable energy and alternative energy. Alternative energy is all energy sources other than carbonaceous sources, whereas renewable energy is energy that is replaced almost as quickly as it is used by being part of the natural carbon cycle of the earth. Renewable fuels produce carbon dioxide but since the renewable source is always being replenished the energy use is merely interceding in the natural cycle.

Alternative energy sources encompasses all the renewable sources but also nuclear, and for example, energy from municipal solid waste (MSW) which - due to its source may not be strictly a renewable source. and new types such as hydrogen power from new energy conversion process

An example of a renewable fuel is wood which is renewed by the re-growing of the forest from which the tree was felled. Another prime example of this type of energy is solar power. Many governments are setting out to increase the use of renewable power. The increasing use of renewable energy is, for example, an integral part of the United Kingdom Government's longer-term aim of reducing CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050. In 2000 the Government set a target of 10% of electricity supply from renewable energy by 2010, and in 2006 that nation announced our aspiration to double that level by 2020.

Renewable energy is produced from sources that are replenished as they are used, such as the wind, water flowing in streams, rivers and seas, the sun and sustainably grown crops. In order to harness these sources and reduce our dependency on finite reserves of oil, coal and gas, renewable energy professionals need to understand the scientific principles of renewable energy technology and have the management skills to ensure that UK and international carbon emission reduction targets are met.

All alternative energy is best derived from inexhaustible sources such as wind, the sun, sea, or replaceable sources such as waste products and crops. Using sources of renewable energy should be viewed as a long-term method to tackle climate change, and will play an increasingly important part in helping reduce carbon emissions by 2050.

However, before we get really excited about the potential for renewable sources of power. Renewable energy is not all it's made out to be, it's not that cheap compared to conventional fossil fuel generating plants. Also, the production of enough renewable energy is also very hard to achieve rapidly. In comparison to a large fossil fuel power station oil, natural gas or coal each renewable power plant is really tiny. Literally thousands of large wind turbines, for example, are needed to replace just one coal, gas or oil fired power station.

The only real alternative to fossil fuels which is a well tested and mature technology, and can be built really quickly is nuclear energy.

Nuclear power should be considered "clean" and "green" when compared with fossil fuels. The carbon dioxide emissions from a nuclear plant are mostly during its construction, and are very low compared with fossil fuel sources. So, it is an alternative energy capable of reducing global waming effects if developed in a big way in the next few years.

Nevertheless, advantages and disadvantages as there may be to renewable energy. It is certain to be an area of significant investment and importance for future generations. The ability to develop technology that harnesses energy from wind, solar, water, and other renewable resources defines future generations of technology. The share of US power which will be obtained from alternative renewable sources including large hydro and biomass) in global primary energy is projected to be between 8% and 17% for the years up to 2010, possibly increasing to above 50% by 2100.

Its is clear to all to see that the renewable energy is bandwagon is rolling and it is becoming increasingly popular as fossil fuel prices rise. For example, the state of Iowa now has over 600 wind turbines that help supply its power.

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