Popular Green Energy Sources: Solar Power And Wind Power
Mention green energy and most people can visualize solar panels and wind mills. Solar power and Wind power are our major sources of green energy. Both combined contribute about 3.5 percent of our current electricity needs. A bigger contributor which has been contributing a significant percent of our energy needs is the hydro-electric power.
There are several major hydro-electricity projects worldwide the most recent example of this is the Three Gorges Dam in China which is biggest hydel-power project in the world. Despite being a green energy source the environmental impact of hydel projects are enormous. They cause severe displacement problems for thousands if not millions of people living in the areas marked for creating enormous reservoirs for the water in order to generate power and irrigate farms. Also, hydel power in many countries is dependent on copious amounts of rainfall and this is seasonal in some countries.
Solar and wind power are also to a large extent dependent on the prevailing weather conditions. But if proper locations are selected then on most days these areas get enough sun and wind to generate the required electricity. Deserts are the preferred locations for installing solar panels. The large areas of open desert land available which are otherwise unusable can be best used to generate huge amounts of solar electricity. Large tracts of desert lands in the US are being put to this very use. It is estimated that Sahara desert in Africa can generate enough green energy in the solar electricity to power the Earth several times over. Same is the case with wind power. Presently most installations are onshore. It is estimated that moving them offshore will significantly improve wind power generation.
Lesser Know Green Energy Sources: Geothermal, Tide, Wave Power And Bio-Fuels
Moving on the other lesser known green energy sources which are making steady progress in the race for becoming sustainable and clean energy are tide power, wave power, geo-thermal power and several bio-fuels. Tide power makes use of the power of tides. As the tides come in they rotate the turbines installed on the sea shore and help generate electricity. These are particularly useful in areas where regular and high tides are seen through the year.
One problem is of course the excessive amount of corrosion that installation suffers near the sea shore. Wave power is also a similar set-up except that this is steadier as the ocean waves occur more frequently and regularly. As the waves come in and withdraw the turbines are first rotated in one direction and in reverse to help generate electricity.
Geothermal power is another exciting possibility that has received significant press. For nearly a century or more this technology has been in use in countries like Italy. But, it has not reached significant commercial success. This is a readily available resource in every part of the world. This technology uses the heat of Earth’s core to heat water to high temperatures and derives the energy from this super-heated water.
Deep holes have to be bored to reach the Earth’s core and water under high pressure needs to be pumped in to reach these depths. It is an engineering challenge which needs to be addressed to achieve levels that will be able to replace current fossil fuels as a primary source of electricity. Currently, hot water springs and hot sources available on the surface are being used. But, to make real impact we need to dig in deeper.
Bio-fuel is another source of green energy which is generated by converting plant and other human waste into energy producing fuels. To generate huge amounts of bio-fuels that can sustain our population’s energy needs large tracts of arable land are needed.
This is not possible as the same land is also need to produce food for hungry billions. This can cause social turmoil. This also needs highly efficient agricultural practices that maximizes farm production. Brazil and to some extent US are the only two countries that have achieved this level of competence and are the world leaders in production of bio-fuels. In fact about 80 percent of Brazil’s vehicles are powered by ethanol a bio-fuel.