It’s a fact of humankind that we use energy to fuel almost every aspect of life, may it be for industrial use, residential purposes or even for personal consumption. We would not be as productive as we are now if not for the electricity that powers our offices or the gasoline that keeps our cars’ engines going.
However, the stark truth behind consuming these fuels is the exhaustion of the limited energy source we are using, fossil fuels. This has led us to seek out alternative energy sources that are both renewable and environmentally friendly. Say hello to our new best friends, the wind and the sun.
Thousands of years ago, people were already harnessing the power of the wind for various purposes. The Ancients Egyptians used them to power their sailboats, while the Chinese utilized it to pump water. Today, we use wind power to generate electricity. The wind makes the blades of a wind turbine rotate continuously, which in turn powers the generator to produce electricity. In the United States alone, wind turbines can power about 20 million homes in a year. These turbines come in groups called wind farms and are strategically situated in locations with mighty winds all year round, such as the area by the seashore, or farmland.
Wind turbines do not need any fuel to power up, and do not produce any pollutants, making them a clean source of electricity. Wind power is also very cheap compared to other forms of renewable energy. The downside of this energy source is the inconsistency of the strength of the wind. It largely depends on the weather and the geographical location of the wind farms. Another disadvantage is its threat to flying animals, who can unknowingly crash into the blades. Physically, wind turbines can also limit a view because of their height.
The consumption of solar power has greatly increased in the past few years. In fact, it may be the most popular form of renewable energy used today. Large investments are put into the innovation and improvement of various technologies to utilize solar power.
Many homes are starting to convert into using solar energy since it is both environment-friendly and relatively cheaper compared to electricity provided by power companies. The cost of installing solar panels is definitely less than having monthly electricity bills. Power from the sun is converted into electricity by devices called solar cells. These cells do not need any more generators since they can directly generate electricity. There are also some methods to use solar power without any equipment. Through redesigning a house, more heat from the sun can reach inside. This means less heat will be used from other non-renewable sources.
However, just like the wind, the sun can be very inconsistent too. Clouds may block the sunlight and depending on the weather and the time of day, the sun may not even shine at all. Solar cells can also deteriorate over time.