Alternative Energy: Definition, Sources, Examples and Benefits

In carrying out daily activities, humans will always need various sources of energy, both natural and artificial. However, the energy used by humans is always developing from time to time, and there may be a source of energy that runs out, so humans try as hard as possible to keep the energy source there for them.

We all know the energy sources that can run out are non-renewable energy sources. Thus, humans try to produce alternative energy sources to supply their lives or even replace traditional energy sources used for power generation. Even though nature has provided various kinds of energy sources for humans, some energy in nature can be renewed and may have a limited lifetime.

With time, humans are starting to continuously create and use alternative energy to fulfill their daily activities. If you are wondering how alternative energy can meet human needs and what sources of alternative energy can be used, you can see our post to find the real information about alternative energy sources. Let’s check it out!

Alternative Energy Definition, Sources, Examples and Benefits

What Is Alternative Energy?

Basically, alternative energy is the kind of energy that is produced from any source other than fossil fuels. It is known that fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are the most traditional sources for power generation. In other words, alternative energy is any amount of energy that comes from non-fossil fuel sources. Generally, using alternative energy has a low environmental impact.

Many people think that alternative energy is the same as renewable energy, but there is one subtle difference between the two. Keep in mind, all renewable energy sources fall under the category of alternative energy sources, but it does not work the other way around.

The difference is:

    • Renewable energy sources come from nature that are naturally replenished sources or processes of the Earth, e.g., the sun, water, wind, etc. Unlike fossil fuels (non-renewable energy sources) that can run out, renewable energy sources undergo constant updates that occur naturally, making them inexhaustible.
    • Alternative energy sources are all renewable energy sources but may not work in the same way. However, it is possible for alternative energy sources to be exhausted. That’s why alternative energy sources are not renewable.

Of course, alternative energy plays a very important role in the sustainability of humans and the earth. With the maximum use of alternative energy, humans can still meet their daily needs even though traditional energy runs out since alternative energy is a substitute for fossil fuel energy.

According to the Indonesian Dictionary, alternative energy is energy that does not come from petroleum, for example, hydropower, geothermal, nuclear, solar, wind, waves, biomass, natural gas, peat, coal, and natural gas.

Quoted from the Encyclopedia Britannica, alternative energy sources are energy obtained through renewable (renewable), recoverable, or eternal energy sources. For example, rivers, tides, biomass, biogas, the sun, and river flow.

People who are aware of the dangers of non-renewable energy begin to abandon non-renewable energy because they know that non-renewable energy can damage or disrupt the sustainability of the earth and humans.

Why Are Alternative Energy Sources Created?

Basically, the main purpose of creating alternative energy is to replace energy that comes from fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas). Since fossil fuels (non-renewable energy sources) can run out, alternative energy sources have started to be developed by humans, either in society or in companies.

The number of people who have started to create and develop alternative energy means that more and more people are aware of the dangers of non-renewable energy.

For society, the creation of alternative energy sources aims to maintain the environment it occupies in order to remain in a healthy condition. If the environment is healthy, then the people will also be healthy too, and the energy can be used continuously because it can be renewed.

For companies, the creation of alternative energy sources aims to make a profit since alternative energy sources can be traded. Aside from making profits, those companies have participated in preserving the environment.

Sources of Alternative Energy

Here’s a list of some of the most common sustainable energy resources that people use today.

1) Solar Energy

Solar energy is the most important energy source in the lives of humans, animals, and plants. To prevent global warming, solar energy that has entered the earth must be returned. You may already know that global warming occurs due to the excessive use of non-renewable energy.

However, solar energy can be used as an alternative energy source to keep the environment healthy, so people will be more enthusiastic about living their lives. Aside from that, the environment will not be damaged quickly so that future generations can still feel the pleasures of living on earth.

2) Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy is generated from the energy of moving water when water behind a dam causes turbine blades to move as it flows through an intake. Then, the turbine blades rotate a generator to produce electricity, which is sent to power homes and businesses.

That’s why water can be used to make alternative energy sources since it can replace fossil fuels. Reportedly, several countries have started to develop water into electricity, including Indonesia, which has a large enough dam to be used as a source of electrical energy.

3) Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy occurs because there are many radioactive particles that come from inside the rock. Geothermal energy comes from magma—the outer core of the earth made of molten rock with a very high temperature.

It is known that the location of geothermal energy is at a depth of approximately 6,400 km from the earth’s surface. Geothermal energy can still be used for renewable energy sources, and of course, it can be used as one of the alternative energy sources.

4) Bioenergy/Biomass

Bioenergy is produced from organic materials known as biomass or biofuels. Biomass is material gained from plants. Either in a direct way or in an indirect way, biomass can be used as energy. The sources of biomass are not only derived from plants but also come from animal waste.

Some sources of biomass include water hyacinth, giant seaweed, sawdust, wood chips, rice husks, straw, kitchen waste, animal waste, etc. If left for too long, these biomass sources can cause more and more garbage piles. They can even cause global warming.

Thus, we can maximize biomass sources to be used as alternative energy sources or renewable energy. With the use of this biomass, we will last longer since the environment will become healthy and not easily damaged.

5) Wind Energy

Wind is moving air caused by differences in pressure on the earth’s surface. It is known that the movement of the wind from a high area to a low area causes the air temperature in an area to be different. The difference makes us feel different temperatures at night and during the day.

The wind is very important for human life. In fact, almost all human activities require wind power. That’s why energy can be used as one of the alternative energy sources that serves both individuals and entire communities. In the United States, wind power has tripled over the past 10 years, making wind energy the nation’s number one renewable energy source.

6) Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is produced in the form of heat through the fission process of atoms. The initial fission process will create energy and trigger a chain reaction that can repeat the process and produce more energy.

Nuclear energy can convert the energy into electrical energy, making it one of the sources of electrical energy. It has been demonstrated that 1 gram of radioactive material can produce approximately 50 kWh of electrical energy per hour.

Reportedly, some countries have used nuclear energy as a source of renewable energy. Japan is one of the countries that has developed and used nuclear energy. It is done since nuclear power can prevent the greenhouse effect, so that global warming can be properly prevented.

Examples of Alternative Energy

There are some examples of alternative energy that humans can use. We finally found information about the examples of alternative energy from gramedia.com. Okay, here’s a list of alternative energy examples!

1) Solar Panel

Solar Panel

A solar panel, solar electric panel, or photo-voltaic (PV) module is currently the most affordable option when it comes to alternative energy. Using this energy over coal could save as much as $23 billion in yearly power system expenses. It can also lower annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 gigatons.

A solar panel works to convert solar radiation emitted by the sun into electrical energy. Alternative energy derived from solar panels can be used on any object, such as electric cars, electric boats, electric lights, and so on. Keep in mind that all these objects must be placed on solar panels. If there are no solar panels, then solar energy cannot be converted into electrical energy.

2) Windmill

Windmill

A windmill is one of the alternative energy examples that can convert wind energy into electrical energy or kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The conversion into electrical energy works when the windmill is connected to a new generator engine. In simple terms, the windmill will spin and then the turbine or generator will move. After the generator is in motion, the electrical energy can be used.

The Netherlands is one of the countries that has developed this wind energy and has long used windmills to gain electrical energy. Thus, the Netherlands is also known as the “country of windmills.”

3) Geothermal

Geothermal

There is no doubt that geothermal energy can be used as electrical energy. Research conducted in Iceland revealed that geothermal energy has the ability to multiply electrical energy up to ten times.

Geothermal energy is derived from the earth’s surface. In simple terms, the workings of hot steam into electrical energy, such as a source of hot steam coming from below the surface of the earth that will be drilled. Then, the hot steam coming out of the drilled hole is filtered and used to drive a generator so that electrical energy can be used.

4) Hydropower

Hydropower

In addition to wind energy, water energy, or better known as hydropower, can also be used as an alternative energy source. One of the examples of hydropower use is on a reservoir that is routed through a water pipe to a turbine. After the turbine moves because of the abundant amount of water, it will produce electrical energy.

Reportedly, several regions in Indonesia have used hydropower to convert it into electrical energy through reservoirs, such as the Asahan reservoir in North Sumatra, the Jatiluhur reservoir in Purwakarta, the Saguling reservoir in the West Bandung area, and so on.

5) Biodiesel

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a fuel that can also be used as an alternative energy source that comes from renewable sources such as animal fat or vegetable oil. Biodiesel that comes from vegetable oil will go through several processes, such as transesterification of lipids. That said, this process must be done to convert the base oil into esters by eliminating free fatty acids.

Then, biodiesel can be used as fuel after going through that process. The working manner of biodiesel is basically almost the same as the manner of work from fossil fuels. If people often use biodiesel, they will have reduced the use of fossil fuels, so that they can also preserve the earth’s environment and human health.

Benefits of Alternative Energy

Of course, alternative energy created has benefits that people can feel. We also found information about the benefits of alternative energy from gramedia.com. Here are they:

    • Reducing dependence on fossil fuel

As we’ve mentioned, if fossil fuel runs out someday, it can damage the earth, making it overused. This is where alternative energy plays a role, and people can reduce their dependence on fossil fuel energy so that they can experience a more beautiful environment.

    • Environmental-friendly

Another benefit of alternative energy is that it keeps the human environment healthy without pollution. It occurs since almost all alternative energy is environmentally friendly and does not produce excessive pollution.

    • No Scarcity

Almost all alternative energy sources are not scarce or renewable, so humans do not have to worry about running out of alternative energy sources. The economy can run well with these benefits.

Conclusion

We can only say that it is time for alternative energy to be used by every human being. It aims to keep the earth from being damaged quickly so that the next generation can live longer.

Although people find it difficult to use alternative energy because they are used to using fossil fuel energy, we must still try to get used to using alternative energy in day-to-day activities and realize the importance of using alternative energy in daily life.