Methods of Conservation: Alternative Energy
Using energy sources that do not require fossil fuels is a key method of conservation. Alternative Energy consists of anything that produces energy but does not use fossil fuel. They produce little to no pollution and are very environmentally friendly. There are a few types of alternative energy that are popular: solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric energy.
Solar energy is used most widely across the world. Approximately 70% of sunlight is reflected back into space leaving about 30% to meet our energy demands. There are two types of solar energy: active and passive. Active solar energy requires electrical and mechanical technology such as solar panels to capture, convert, and store energy for future use. Passive solar energy uses duration, position, and sun’s rays to heat a particular area.
Wind energy has been used for centuries. It was used to power ship sails so explorers could sail around their trade routes. A single windmill could power crop irrigation, water pumps, and lights for an entire family. Today, wind farms with rows and rows of wind turbines capture the power and feed it to a power grid for industrial uses. A downside to wind energy is it can only be used in areas that constantly experience high winds, so it is not ideal everywhere.
Geothermal energy is energy that is harnessed from beneath the earth. Earth contains a molten rock called magma which continuously produces heat. For every 100 meters, you go below ground, the temperature increases by 3 degrees Celsius. Water deep inside the earth begins to boil once 10,000 meters is reached. The steam produced by this boiling water is captured by geothermal heat pumps. Generators are then activated by the steam-turning turbines.
Hydroelectric power is the largest producer of alternative energy. Hydroelectric power is captured by the moving water in the sea, ocean, rivers, and streams. The kinetic energy of moving water is captured by hydroelectric power stations and transfers mechanical energy to turbines. The mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy through generators by the moving turbines.