When we think of renewable energy, our minds typically tend toward solar and wind power. However, there are other promising energy sources that commonly fly under the radar. The Guardian recently highlighted five alternative energy sources that have the potential to see great growth in upcoming years and transform the energy landscape as we know it.
With ocean waters covering more than 70 percent of our plants surface, it only makes sense to harness the energy it naturally produces. Ocean current and waves could be used to drive electric generators and produce an abundant amount of consistent energy. Typically, ocean energy is broken down into four categories: deep water source cooling, tidal power, wave power, and marine current.
The catch? Salt water causes corrosion, which raises an issue when developing a device to capture this energy. The biggest roadblock engineers are currently facing is how to develop an energy harnessing device that makes ocean power commercially viable. With the right scale of development, this from of energy could be at the forefront of a renewable future.
Essentially, biomass transforms living things or the waste they produce into electricity. Currently, biomass accounts for 12 percent of the country’s renewable energy generation. While burning the fuel produces CO2, proponents of this source believe it will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the growth of plants that produce the energy, which remove the CO2 from the atmosphere.
Biomass is typically seen in three forms: biodiesel, ethanol, and hard biofuels.
Fuel cells have the potential to transform the energy grid and automotive world. The devices have varying applications, ranging from wide-scale energy distribution to powering a computer. Currently, fuel cells can convert chemical energy into electrical energy with an efficiency of up to 60 percent.
“I believe a lot of progress has been made in developing renewable electricity sources; solar power, wind power, and even ocean thermal—and of course the fuel cells. Efficiencies are increasing for both solar cells and fuel cells, but the biggest challenge remains their cost. The percent of electricity produce by solar, wind, and fuel cells will increase with time, but only—in my opinion—incrementally. Mainly because the infrastructure we already have utilizes fossil fuels,” said PNNL’s Sbuhash C. Singhal.
ECS’s scientists and engineers are also looking at ways to make fuel cells more efficient and commercially viable.
The idea of energy from hot springs is nothing new. There is evidence that people started exploring geothermal energy more than 10,000 years ago. However, more sophisticated ways of harnessing this energy are arising. Geothermal now makes up three percent of the United State’s renewable energy generation.
Among this list, hydropower is one of the most widely used and recognized sources of electricity. It is one of the oldest power sources on the planet, and it makes up 92 percent of the United Stat’s renewable energy production.