Ten or fifteen years ago, the global energy landscape was looking extremely bleak.
There was a growing realization that governments must lessen their reliance on polluting finite resources such as coal and fossil fuels, but the alternatives to fossil fuels were still too primitive to plug the gap in required energy output.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the situation has shifted rapidly. Sustainable technology has evolved at an exponential rate, meaning that there is a genuine hope that renewable energy usage can overtake fossil fuels in the coming decades.
What is truly exciting about this is that there are scores of different technologies that are emerging.
If you are interested in learning more about the renewable technologies that will power the world going forward, please continue reading.
1. Wind Energy
If you have taken a flight in the past decade, you will undoubtedly have noticed that the world’s seas and waterways are increasingly filled with lines of neatly arranged offshore wind farms.
In the past, wind energy was derided as being hugely inefficient. Huge numbers of turbines had to be installed at great cost, only to return a small amount of energy.
And of course, as naysayers love to point out, they cannot generate any energy at all if the wind is not blowing.
Despite all this, technology has evolved and now wind farms are able to harvest huge amounts of sustainable energy.
Not everyone is happy with these devices, however. There is a threat to wildlife to consider, and some consider them to be an eyesore. It is clear that there are quite a number of wind energy pros and cons that must be considered before the technology is fully embraced around the world.
2. Geothermal Power
Although a simple concept, geothermal power has the potential to transform the energy industry without disrupting and harming the environment at the same time.
The entire concept revolves around extracting energy from the ground. This is done by capturing heat deposits and storing energy.
Geothermal power has become increasingly popular over the past few years. A report in 2015 even highlighted that the entire sector and industry expanded by 5% that year alone.
Keep a close eye on this emerging technology, as it is estimated that many countries with the appropriate climate could meet virtually their entire energy needs using this technique in the future.
Alternative energy sources do not have to be high-tech. The sooner we can build up the usage and reliance on sustainable sources of energy, the better for the planet.
This is why biomass is such a good source of energy. Biomass consists of organic matter produced by cattle and plants.
Extracting and then burning these materials provides a healthy dose of energy from a source that is already readily available in every country in the world.
There are several types of biofuels available today. These include biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, and biomass.
Biomass could become an extremely useful source of energy in the developing world, where infrastructure costs represent a barrier to entry for other more expensive renewable energy sources like wind power.
Improving extraction techniques mean that natural gas is becoming a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels at a rapid rate.
Once they are extracted, natural gas can be converted into hydrogen, which in turn can be used as a fuel.
The game-changing news about this is that hydrogen can now be used in place of the internal combustion engine to power vehicles.
This could change the landscape of pollution throughout the world. Cars are one of the biggest pollutants on Earth. If their engines could be replaced with a totally clean energy source, this could have a profound impact on the planet.
5) Hydroelectric Energy
Hydro derives from the Greek word meaning water. The concept here is that vast amounts of energy are generated as a water flows through a space.
The most common form of this is the use of a hydroelectric power plant. By damming a water source (commonly a river), huge amounts of water can be held back until they are needed.
Once the water is released, it flows past a turbine, which goes onto to spin its blades and generate electricity.
This novel technique is now popular all over the world. We must be cautious though, as overly damming the same source of water can have unexpected consequences further downriver.
Ancient societies like the Greeks and Romans commonly used waterwheels, which can be considered to be extremely early examples of the use of hydro energy. This means we should not mistake this concept for being totally unfamiliar – it is one of the oldest proven technologies in existence.
6) Solar Power
Out of all of the renewable sources of energy available today, perhaps solar energy has enjoyed the widest adoption into the mainstream.
We can now see solar panels atop houses, adorning warehouses and nestled between fields in rural areas of the countryside.
It goes to show that once the perception of a renewable resource changes, it can be adopted rapidly by both business and private consumers. Only 10 years ago solar panels were ridiculed, with users balking at the unaesthetic styling of the panels.
Solar panels take advantage of the most powerful source of energy in our galaxy, the Sun. The panels, which are made up of photovoltaic cells, absorb solar energy and store it for later use.
They can either feed into a larger energy grid system, or they can be used more locally, for a single home or street for example.
Alternatives to Fossil Fuels are Waiting in the Wings
In 2019 we have many reasons to feel hopeful about the future of the planet. There are a number of fantastic alternatives to fossil fuels that are in the pipeline and approaching a rapid rollout.
In the meantime, it is essential that consumers make their voices heard. Corporations and governments will continue to use fossil fuels if they are allowed to do so.
It is up to the people to make the change that they desire to see.
Be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it—and explore our blog sections for more great reads.