What is alternative energy?
Energy resources are divided into non-renewable and renewable according to their ability to be obtained quickly in the natural environment.
Non-renewable resources include fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas), which are produced much more slowly than they are consumed.
The definition of renewable resources is rather vague. This group includes various energy sources (not only organic resources, but also natural phenomena), whose renewal occurs faster than consumption, or does not depend on it at all:
- biofuels produced from organic industrial waste, plant and animal raw materials, products of vital activity of organisms;
- Hydropower is the energy of water movement, which is converted first into mechanical energy and then into electricity;
- alternative energy sources is a concept that combines all the others, namely non-conventional energy resources.
Alternative energy is a set of promising unconventional methods of energy extraction (mainly from renewable sources), as well as its transmission and application.
Types of alternative energy sources
The kinetic energy of the wind
A wind turbine or wind turbine generator is a device for converting the kinetic energy of wind flow into mechanical energy and then into electrical energy.
Visually, the design resembles a giant fan. The flow of wind makes the blades spin. They drive the inner shaft, which is connected to a gearbox, which in turn turns the rotor of the generator. This generates a three-phase alternating current. Using several transformations with the help of a controller, batteries, and an inverter (a device for transforming DC into AC with an accompanying voltage correction) it acquires the characteristics necessary for the operation of electrical appliances.
The power of a wind turbine depends on the wind speed, which is why wind power plants located in coastal areas are the most efficient.
Electromagnetic radiation from the Sun
Solar plants are used for desalination of seawater and mineralized water, drying agricultural products, heating water in heating systems, cooling buildings by evaporation of various substances, and generating electricity from solar radiation is considered the most promising alternative to traditional energy.
The basis of solar cells is thin silicon wafers (only 180 microns or 0.18 mm thick). Phosphorus and boron are alternately applied to the layers of photovoltaic cells. In the silicon layer with phosphorus additions, free electrons appear, and in the layer with boron some electrons are absent – so-called “holes” are formed.
When quanta of light hit the surface of the battery, they cause particles to move from one layer to the other, thus generating an electric current.
The movement of water in the oceans and seas
At high and low tides, water currents rotate the wheels of underwater devices, triggering generators that convert mechanical movements into electric current – this is a brief description of a tidal power plant (TEP).
The best place for energy extraction in this way is seashores with large enclosed basins because in this case, the difference in water level between the tide and the tide can be more than four meters.
The warmth of hot springs
Turbine rotation with steam-heated boilers is the most common way to generate electricity. But why heat water when hot liquid or ready-made steam can be taken directly from the bowels of our planet?
The world’s first geothermal power plant (GeoPP) began operating in 1911 in the Italian municipality of Larderello and is still in operation today.
Deep underground waters have a high temperature and pressure, under the influence of which gas escapes to the outside through wells. The steam is then piped to the turbines, making them rotate, which drives the electric generator.