Alternative Energy Sources to Fossil Fuels – If you’re looking for an alternative energy source to fossil fuels, you’re not alone. Biomass and coal are renewable energy sources, and both are growing in popularity as alternative fuels. But there are some major drawbacks, too. These alternatives to fossil fuels compete with agricultural practices that cause toxic algae blooms and other environmental problems. Meanwhile, some debates have erupted over shipping wood pellets from U.S. forests to Europe. While wood pellets provide electricity in Europe, many scientists are still working to improve biomass conversion efficiency.
Coal Is a Non-Renewable Energy Source
Coal is one of the oldest forms of fossil fuels. It is formed from plant matter buried on the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago. Surface mining involves removing the overburden or layers of dirt and rock so that coal can be exposed. Seeds are planted in the mined area to reestablish biological balance and prevent erosion. Coal is one of the most abundant forms of energy on Earth.
A true renewable energy source is biomass, also known as biofuel. Biomass is derived from organic materials that contain stored solar energy. Humans have been using biomass for centuries, but the process of burning biomass releases chemical energy in the form of heat. While many renewable energy sources are classified as “clean” energy due to their lower carbon emissions, coal is not without its environmental impact. However, it is essential to note that using biomass has significant downsides.
The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2019 assumes a capacity factor of around 32 percent. Countries will have declared policies to promote renewable energy in this scenario, and wind farms will account for 50% of global energy needs. The LCOE for onshore wind energy is estimated at $80/MWh. However, this number will be lower if the power generated is stored as a reserve. In addition, wind farms can be used as an economical backup.
Using distributed renewable energy systems, such as solar and wind, can significantly reduce transmission losses. Wind farms often require remote locations away from population centers, which is why they are most effective in areas with strong winds. Other renewable energy sources, such as hydro and geothermal, can be used on a large scale. Combined with solar and wind, these energy sources are expected to add 733 GWe of installed capacity by 2020.
One of the most significant challenges is storing solar energy; luckily, solar technology advances have made that process a lot easier. A new approach developed by the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and ETH Zurich uses the sun’s thermal energy to convert carbon dioxide and water directly into synthetic fuel. It’s an exciting approach, but it may not be a good solution for our global warming problems.
While fossil fuels are used for many purposes, they are among the most common sources of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Moreover, they are also prone to causing accidents during production and transportation.
Because these resources are nonrenewable, we’re quickly approaching the point where we don’t have any choice but to move towards a renewable energy source. With our growing dependence on fossil fuels, the world’s resources are depleting faster than they are replenished. With the current depletion rate, coal and oil are projected to cost more than solar energy by the end of the next decade.
There are many benefits to using biomass as an alternative energy source. Unlike fossil fuels, it cannot be depleted and could become the primary renewable energy source. Further, sustainably managed biomass is carbon-neutral. Unlike fossil fuels, biomass doesn’t contribute to carbon emissions unless burned, and some biomass energy is carbon-neutral, such as sawdust from sawmills. However, biomass cannot be a carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels.
Biomass is a renewable resource from the remains of recently living plants. It can be converted into liquid transportation fuels, heat, or even products. It is a renewable resource and can be produced from various sources, including waste streams and wood. Moreover, biomass technologies enable the reuse and recycling of carbon from waste streams. This translates to significant cost savings. Renewable biomass energy sources are becoming increasingly attractive due to the growing global demand for energy.