There are so many different sources of energy that could replace the gasoline and coal we use for almost everything. Alternative fuels are being looked at much more lately due to the increase in effects we have noticed that gasoline and coal are having on the planet. Technologies for alternative fuels are being explored much more as well, and the most common types of alternative fuels are ready to use now.
There is a large need for the use of alternative fuels because of the effects that our current fuels are having on the environment with which we live in. Gas and coal are putting out harmful emissions into the planets atmosphere causing a series of effects which are negative to the planet. Not only are they harmful, but gas and coal are also running out. Many scientists agree that we have reached what is called "peak gas and/or coal". Peak coal and gas is the expression used to explain that the "peak" was the best quality and the highest number of that resource available. Saying we have already used the peak of gas and coal should be a little alarming to you. Why? When the best quality of gas and coal are gone the rest is no longer going to perform at the same level it once did, and its going to take much more to perform at the same level. Since peak also means highest amount, we have less and less to make up for the quality. Therefore it is time to find another source of energy to power all of our needs.
Nuclear Energy. When I say that you probably think I am crazy because of past experiences with the energy source. Since the production of nuclear plants in the United States in 1996 has stopped it has become the leading source of energy in other countries like Japan and much of Europe. These countries have continued looking into the technologies and are therefore using much higher advanced equipment than was used in places like Chernobyl. The new generation of nuclear reactors are called generation IV. They are so much more advanced than the once used generation III. Gen IV reactors can use any grade of petroleum, meaning any kind of source that can create energy such as plutonium and uranium. The other major advance in Gen IV is the ability to send anything left after the petroleum goes through the cycle, back through the cycle. This way there are no emissions, and no harm done to the environment and no use for things like Yucca Mountain. Nuclear is completely safe plants are underground and are specifically protected from known terrorist attacks.
Solar power is a little more liked. Solar power is the way to make energy from collecting rays from the sun. I'm sure you've seen the solar panels on calculators, the same solar panels are used to make energy for our homes. Panels are put outside and sit there collecting the rays. A solar panel works like this: there is a conductor, like silicon, that conducts the light. After it hits the conductor it is sent past it into the metal sheet underneath the conductor and is then sent through wires back to a plant where it is then distributed. Simple as can be. Pretty cheap as well, to "solarize" your house it would cost about $20,000. That might seem like a lot, but you will be creating enough energy for your entire household and wouldn't have an electric bill at all. Eventually you would be making too much energy and would be sending it back through the grid to other peoples homes and the energy companies would start paying you at that point. Another cool thing is that the government gives incentives like tax breaks for people who have solar panels. Solar power offers no emissions, and is completely green for the environment. One thing that might concern you is how in the world are you going to get energy on a cloudy day, or at night. Well scientists have overcome that problem. The sun rays are still coming through the clouds, and from the other side of earth at night just at a lower frequency but the newest panels are able to pick those up and use them for energy.
Wind power is almost as simple as solar power. As the wind pushes a wind turbine around and around the stuff inside the turbines creates energy. There are no emissions and wind power is safe for the environment as well.
Now obviously its not windy everywhere, or sunny but we have to use a combination of these two to pick where they would best work throughout the country.
Hydroelectric power is the energy created from the waves when they move. This works very similar to wind power: when the waves move they move the rotator in the machine causing energy to be made. These work best in oceans and aren't made for lakes but technically you could put one in your bathtub and create waves and you'd have energy, plus there is water over the whole planet so hydroelectric power can be used virtually everywhere.
Bio-fuels are the newest kind of alternative fuel. Bio-fuels are the remains of plants, like corn, that are ground up and used as petroleum in cars that can use them. Things like E-85 are bio-fuels and are becoming more and more advanced. You can probably look forward to news from bio fuels because they are being looked into quite a lot right now.
Alternative energies and fuels are what we are going to be using to power our world very soon. Figuring as many out as possible and perfecting them are somethings we need to do here soon as our current fuels like gas and coal are running out.