With the amount of attention solar and wind power have been getting in the mass media, it's almost like other renewable power sources don't exist.
Interestingly enough, not only are there other alternatives, but some countries rely on them to make the majority of their energy and meet their renewable energy quotas. Countries that don't have consistent sun or wind have been looking towards alternatives like Geothermal and Hydroelectricity for decades. A combination of these two methods has allowed Iceland and Puerto Rico almost to go 100% renewable with their energy consumption.
Although typically on a large scale, these alternative sources can be scaled down and installed in small, rural communities -- giving them the power they need to escape the confines of poverty.
By popularizing all types of renewable energy resources, we can rely on renewable energy sources even more in the future.
1. Ocean Energy
The magnetic pull of the moon causes a push-pull movement in large bodies of water called a tide. Tide's vary in strength, but they occur all over the world and can be used for the creation of electricity. In most setups, turbine generators are placed in the ocean at crucial points. This method is similar to the concept of a wind turbine. Instead of wind moving the blades of the turbine, the tide or current propels them. Tidal projects are expensive and have not yet reached their full generating capacity.
Have you ever been to the seaside? Remember the romantic sound of the constant crash of waves on the shore?
That consistency is what makes wave power so viable.
When the wind blows across the ocean, waves and swell form a never ending cycle of movement. Typically, potential yearly power output for wind farms is given in gigawatts, but for wave power, it's delivered in terawatts. Wave brute potential for electricity generation is massive compared to wind or solar power.
However, wave energy is not without its drawbacks. The current technology is still in its infancy. Expensive and somewhat ineffective at harnessing the wave's real power, this method needs significant innovation to become a widespread success.
Between tidal and wave generation, there will be significant innovation to harness the ocean's power in the future.
2. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy is gathered from the heat of the ground below us. It's mostly used in countries that have volcanic activity and an abundance of natural hot springs. In Iceland, 20% of total power created comes from the use of the hot underground springs. Geothermal energy power plants run on two things -- hydro (water) and heat. Mixed they generate steam which can be used to create electricity or directly heat and cool buildings and water sources.
In 2018, we drill relatively shallow holes for geothermal energy, but the true power lies further below -- out of the reach of today's technology. If you remember your 6th-grade science class, you'll know that below the earth's crust lies molten rock called magma. This magma could be an inexhaustible source of electricity worldwide.
Today, Geothermal energy is widely used, with the USA producing the equivalent of 5 nuclear power stations worth. East Africa is the newest pioneer in this field, and it is well positioned to become even more successful as technology progresses.
3. Hydroelectric Dams
Although not common knowledge, Hydroelectric dams have been used for years as a way to store electricity. Water is pumped (or naturally collects) from a lower pool to a higher, walled dam. Once the dam is at capacity or electricity is needed, the water is released through the gates and crashes down into the lower section. The turbines in the gate harness the kinetic movement of the water to create electricity.
Hydroelectric dams are effective when used on a flowing river. Water naturally collects into an artificial dam, with its release creating a never-ending supply of electricity. This method has been used in smaller projects by placing only turbines in the water or forcing the river water to flow through a spiral, increasing the speed at which it can turn a turbine.
4. Kinetic Energy or Human Power
Every day, we walk, we sit, we run, we fall -- all this movement can be harnessed if we install smart systems. The Uncharted Power Company is developing floors that collect your walking energy and panels that harness energy from the speed bumps you drive over.
The most widespread use of kinetic energy is Faraday torches. You shake the torch for a short amount of time, allowing it to build up electricity and turn on. In survival or rural situations, you never have to change or discard expensive batteries again.
What the future holds
As governments grow more and more obsessed with renewable energy, the technology develops at a rapid pace. Although some sources on this list are still too expensive to be viable or in the testing stage, they will quickly become a commercial success.
Do you think the world will become a better place once we go 100% renewable? Start the discussion in the comments below!