Almost all people are accustomed to using traditional energy sources, including gas and oil, the reserves of which may be completely depleted after a while. Therefore, to avoid falling into unpleasant critical situations, people should gradually switch to alternative sources. Alternative energy sources have many advantages, but their effectiveness largely depends on the characteristics of the climate, which can make it difficult to use the energy of the sun, wind, and other natural phenomena.
The Benefits of Alternative Energy
Renewable energy sources allow obtaining environmentally friendly electrical and thermal energy while avoiding emissions of harmful substances and not using fossils:
- Wind energy is inexhaustible, and wind farms can be placed in hard-to-reach places, they require a small area and fit into any landscape.
- The lifespan of solar cells is practically unlimited and can be tens of years, so solar power plants pay off well. Power generation at solar power plants is silent, as there are no motors and generators.
- The performance of hydroelectric power plants is easy to control by changing the water flow rate (the volume of water supplied to the turbines), so the amount of energy received can be adjusted.
- Installation and operation of wave power plants are relatively inexpensive, and the capacity is high enough, therefore, the cost of electricity is low.
- Biofuel production solves the problem of household, industrial and agricultural waste, and also allows the use of plants as a raw material, which is a completely renewable source.
Disadvantages of Clean Energy
The widespread use of alternative energy is likely to show its negative side. Every year the energy demand will only grow, and at the end of the century, the demand will grow tenfold. To satisfy human needs, it will be necessary to increase the volume of the operating energy, besides, one should not forget about the cleanliness of the environment. Even alternative energy is faced with certain problems:
- Wind power on a massive scale is likely to face public opposition. If 100% of US energy demand came from this source, then wind turbines would have to cover more than 40% of all available agricultural land in the country. Let’s not forget that the units have a height of 50 m, and their distance from each other should be from 250 to 500 meters.
- Solar power plants have the problem of poor optimization of the operating mode during the day. Peak loads in power systems occur in the morning and the evening when the illumination is low, and in the middle of the day, power engineers have problems with extra kilowatts. Besides, at regular times during the day, the performance of the solar panels depends on the weather conditions (cloud cover).
- Current environmental problems such as fish migration, destruction of sensitive aquatic ecosystems, etc., make it difficult to build new dams for hydropower. Also, construction is possible only in places with large reserves of water energy, and on mountain rivers, such stations are very dangerous due to the high seismicity. The creation of a hydroelectric power station, in comparison with other energy sources, is longer and more expensive.
- When the ocean surface is calm or nearly calm, the wave power plant cannot produce usable energy. Therefore, the construction sites of wave stations must be carefully selected to minimize the impact of noise from them. Moreover, they should be located precisely in those areas where wind waves have sufficient potential to generate electricity. A violent storm can destroy such a power plant, so the cost of building it may not even pay off.
- To meet the current needs of the entire population of the Earth with the help of clean vegetable fuel, 10% of the entire land is needed. At the moment, these are all lands involved in agriculture on our planet. While biofuels differ from fossil fuels in terms of clean greenhouse gases, they are still similar in that they contribute to air pollution. When biofuels are burned, carbon particles, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides are generated in any case.
Increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the total energy needs of earthlings is the way to the wise use of natural resources. Therefore, technologies should be improved to eliminate the disadvantages of alternative energy in the future.