3.5.7.5 Available Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/3575.htm)

A National Geographic article, Renewable energy, explained, lists several available alternatives to fossil fuels and contains links to further information on them:

  • Hydropower, as generated by large dams, is currently the world’s largest source of renewable energy. Tidal and wave projects are being developed – and have huge potential.
  • Wind turbine numbers are rapidly increasing, both onshore and offshore.  Their output is weather-dependent, and they are a danger to birds and bats, but they are cost-effective.
  • Solar energy is also weather-dependent but cost-effective.  Electricity output from solar panels (photovoltaic, known as Solar PV) is rapidly increasing and the sun’s thermal energy is also used directly for heating.
  • Biomass energy can take the form of fuel, heating or electricity generation.  It uses waste products or crops grown for that purpose.  An Economist article, Grow your own, listed several promising biofuels but criticised corn-based ethanol for competing with the production of food, harmful agricultural practices, and for not being very cost-effective.
  • Geothermal energy, tapping the earth’s heat, is a stable resource for electricity generation or directly for heating.

Hydrogen is another alternative to fossil fuels, not mentioned in the above article.  Its usage in vehicles and industrial processes is already growing in America, as described in an AFDC article: Hydrogen Basics.

Some further ways of reducing carbon emissions, which are not yet fully developed, are described below (3.5.7.6).

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