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solar panels at the Octillo power plant, Tempe AZ
A line of solar panels at the Octillo
experimental power station in Tempe AZ.

Alternative energy is a term that incorporates many different technologies and techniques for harnessing the energy and potential power that exists all around us in nature.

There are four types of alternative power; solar power, hydro electric power, wind power, and nuclear power.

Each are particularly promising for a variety of reasons, and could become the dominant forms of energy production in a generation or two.

Solar power comes from the harnessing of the sun's energy. The sun is the biggest source of energy in our world, and all other forms of energy on Earth, with the exception of geothermal energy, originate with the sun.

In fact, the entire energy consumption needs of the planet for an entire year are produced by the sun in just one hour, which makes the sun a massively untapped alternative energy resource.

Hydro electric power is power produced by the movement of water. The most obvious and common form of hydro electric power is dams, but energy can also be taken from the force exerted by tides and deep sea currents. Because hydro electric power is so easy to tap in to, it is the most common type of alternative energy production today.

green jobs
Alternative sources not only
mean clean, sustainable
energy, but green jobs to
help power the economy.

Wind power is power generated by a wind turbine. Wind power is a relatively under-used form of alternative energy, but it is growing rapidly, in part because wind turbines require little maintenance, have such a tiny footprint, and do no real harm to the surrounding ecosystem.

Unlike other more environmentally friendly forms of alternative energy, nuclear power can potentially be an extremely toxic undertaking, and is a hotly debated subject.

Advocates point out that nuclear power reduces carbon emissions and technological developments are reducing the amount of toxic waste produced while also making nuclear power plants more efficient.

Critics, meanwhile, counter that nuclear waste may often be not properly disposed of and - perhaps more dangerously - that nuclear materials can also be used for more insidious purposes than power generation.

The future of alternative energy

Today, the hunt for alternative energy has taken many forms such as research into man-made cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) that has also shown much promise.

With each passing day, more and more experts are predicting it will be in the not-too-distant future when alternative energy may evolve rapidly from the drawing board to urgent real-world necessity.

As the world waits and watches, keep an eye on which of these alternative sources may rise to meet the planet's energy needs as coal and big oil once did.

also see in Cars -> Electric Cars | Hybrid Cars


More about alternative energy around the Web:

HowStuffWorks - Alternative Fuel - A broad look at alternatives to gasoline powered vehicles with overviews and comparisons of natural gas, hybrid and electric cars, details on how fuel cells work, plus related information on hydrogen fuel and biodiesel.

Home Power Magazine - Tips, tricks and how to's for do it yourself installation or refitting for alternative power sources in homes and residential buildings including solar, solar hot water systems, microhydro, and wind power.

Alternative Energy News - A major clearinghouse of news and information on solar, wind, hydrogen, and other forms of alternative energy including video reports, features on environmental issues, online discussion forum, free newsletter.

Alternative Energy Stocks - Facts and information on the emerging industry with recent political, financial and environmental news, investor tips on promising stocks and related company developments.

Alternative Power - Geared to techies, with interesting reads on the latest hi-tech news and ideas in development.

Energy Kids Page - Renewable Energy - Kid-friendly US gov site with information on the development and uses of solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal energy sources.


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