What is Alternative energy: Definition and 36 Discussions

The use of energy is considered sustainable if it meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Definitions of sustainable energy typically include environmental aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions, and social and economic aspects such as energy poverty.
Meeting the world's need for energy a sustainable way is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The global energy system, which is 85% based on fossil fuels, is responsible for over 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The burning of fossil fuels and biomass is a major contributor to air pollution, which causes an estimated 7 million deaths each year. More than 750 million people lack access to electricity and over 2.6 billion rely on polluting fuels such as wood or charcoal to cook.
Renewable energy sources such as wind, hydroelectric power, solar, and geothermal energy are generally far more sustainable than fossil fuel sources. However, some renewable energy projects, such as the clearing of forests for the production of biofuels, can cause severe environmental damage. The role of non-renewable energy sources has been controversial. For example, nuclear power is a low-carbon source and has a safety record comparable to wind and solar, but its sustainability has been debated due to concerns about nuclear proliferation, radioactive waste and accidents. Switching from coal to natural gas has environmental benefits, but may lead to a delay in switching to more sustainable options. Carbon capture and storage technology can be built into power plants to remove their carbon dioxide emissions, but is expensive and has seldom been implemented.
Limiting global warming to levels consistent with the Paris Agreement will require system-wide transformation of the way energy is produced, distributed, stored, and consumed. To accommodate larger shares of variable renewable energy, electrical grids require flexibility through infrastructure such as energy storage. A sustainable energy system is likely to see a shift towards far more use of electricity in sectors such as transport and heating, energy conservation, the use of hydrogen produced by renewables and from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. Some technologies that are critical for eliminating energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are still immature.
Wind and solar energy sources generated 8.5% of worldwide electricity in 2019, a share that has grown rapidly. Costs of these energy sources, and of batteries, have fallen rapidly and are projected to continue falling due to innovation and economies of scale. Pathways exist to provide universal access to electricity and to clean cooking technologies in ways that are compatible with climate goals, while bringing major health and economic benefits to developing countries. Well-designed government policies that promote energy system transformation can lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality simultaneously, and in many cases can also increase energy security. Policy approaches can include carbon-pricing and energy-specific policies such as renewable portfolio standards and phase-outs of fossil fuel subsidies.

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  1. Algr

    Can Green Ammonia Be a Climate Fix?

    Wired has a new article that seems interesting. https://www.wired.com/story/can-green-ammonia-be-a-climate-fix/ The part about eliminating the use of methane in ammonia production sounds good to me. This could also be a good case of switchable demand - if the wind or solar power dips, the...
  2. Ygggdrasil

    Scientists engineer E. coli that eats carbon dioxide

    E. coli is one of the best studied and most widely used bacteria in biotechnology. This week, published in the journal Cell, researchers report having engineered the bacterium to be able to generate all of its carbon from CO2, opening the way toward using these bacteria for replacement of...
  3. heatupgrade

    Can we make electricity from heat?

    I am a refrigeration technician with a fascination for heat pumps. I wonder if we can make two systems in parallel. The Carnot heat engine is used to describe the steam locomotive. I want to use a different fluid with a lower boiling point to create a heat engine using a refrigeration cycle...
  4. W

    Writing: Input Wanted Alternative energy sources? How about photons?

    I'm looking to get into the realm of science fiction writing and am currently working out how the main "SciFi energy source" works in this world I'm trying to make. Fusion reactors are the obvious go-to, but I wanted to get creative, that said: how plausible/effective would it be to directly...
  5. A

    Temporary high-pressure Hydrogen storage?

    I've been looking into compressed Hydrogen storage, and it seems that the high pressure containers have a lot of layers on the inside to keep the Hydrogen from leaking out/diffusing over the lifetime. However now I'm curious as to whether you could use a tank to store high-pressure Hydrogen (in...
  6. Dream Relics

    Steam engines -- A new idea, maybe....

    Why do we use water for steam engines? Why not something else? So, I have a question, or maybe it is an idea that i would like to share. So, sure, there are many finer points to the engineering of a steam turbine to make them work efficiently, and no doubt the designs have improved much since...
  7. T

    What steps can I take to break into the alternative energy career field?

    Hello, I have been thinking about this for awhile and struggling with what I want to do so some guidance would be helpful. Right now I am studying astrophysics and I've been in love with it for the better part of a year being that I find a lot of interest in solving problems in physics and...
  8. deckart

    Wave Power Potential: Calculating Energy Output

    Ocean waves are a bit random in frequency and amplitude so I'm just trying lock down a simple scenario to get an idea of the energy potential. Physics math, I know very little. Let's say we have a steady wave pattern that lifts 10,000 lbs one foot every 2 seconds. Convert to that to an energy...
  9. J

    Steady State Heat Equation with Source

    I am trying to solve the steady state heat equation with a heat source. I am starting out in 1 dimension (my book gives the solution in 2, but I'm just trying to get a feel right now) and I have a heat source Q, located at 0. It radiates heat through an infinite medium. So what would the steady...
  10. Jeffb47

    Gravity Electricity Generation?

    We've got a scalable sun tracker that requires no electricity. See << Link removed by Moderator >> Though invented for use as a less expensive alternative to the traditional electric motor solar trackers, we have come to realize that it can actually lift a lot of weight. We haven't tested the...
  11. S

    Is there a limit to wind power?

    Is there a limit to the amount of energy which can be extracted from the wind? There are a huge number of windfarms springing up around the world.. all taking energy from the wind. The assumption seems to be that this is limitless and "free". Clearly this is not possible. The question is (I...
  12. voltech444

    Oxygen Enriched Internal Steam Compression Ignition Engine (OEISCIE)

    Hello PF members and guests, I have been working on this concept for 2 years and I wanted to get some input from this forum. I have done a lot of research on oxygen enriched combustion and water injection. Both of these concepts have been tested and proven in experiments and the real world. My...
  13. deedsy

    Exploring Alternative Energy Research: A Beginner's Guide

    Hello all, in your opinion, what alternative energy has the greatest potential for employment (solar, nuclear, etc)? I'll have a B.S. in environmental science and physics, and alternative energy research seemed like a nice way to combine the two. I'm aware more advanced education will likely be...
  14. S

    Alternative Energy Forum: Where Can I Find the Best Discussions?

    Hi, I have been looking around for popular, well-used, and informative forums for alternative energy. I can't seem to find any great ones using google/bing/duckduckgo. If anyone has any suggestions it would be great! thanks!
  15. S

    Alternative Energy & Robotics

    Hello, I'm curious as to how practical it is to want to work in both of these fields? I'm debating weather or not it would be better suited for me to study double major Physics and MEng with a minor in EEng as my undergrad, or MEng and EEng with minors in Physics and Computer Science. I would...
  16. P

    Physics Alternative Energy as a career path in Physics?

    I'm starting my junior year in the fall, and I'm starting to think about what I really want to do with my physics degree once I earn it. To me, it seems like alternative energy is a good direction to go, because it's a very real problem in the modern world and I feel like there's going to be a...
  17. W

    Career Guidance - Alternative Energy?

    (Hope this is in the right place) Hello, I have been debating this for awhile and am unsure really of what I should be doing. I like chemistry, I like solving math problems. However I don't care for solving the area of a function revolved about an axis, not very interesting to me. So far...
  18. F

    Programs Degree for Alternative Energy? Maybe hydrogen related.

    First off, I'm so glad this forum is here. So much good information and knowledgeable individuals. I want to go into a program that is designed around alternative energy but there aren't really any specific programs for it. I'm not interested in wind power and solar power(unless it's solar...
  19. Q

    Revolutionize Renewable Energy with the Innovative Alternative Energy Tank

    Here is an invention I'd like to share with anyone who has the money to develop and market it. Furthermore, I don't even have the technical skill to determine if it's viable on paper so I suppose it's reasonable to say that anyone who pursues this is entitled not to share anything with me...
  20. B

    Alternative Energy Masters Help

    Hi, I am thinking about pursuing a masters degree in alternative energy engineering in the winter but have been running into some trouble. I can only find two colleges who offers such a degree, the first is Wright Stat U (ohio) and the second is Wayne State (michigan) I would like to stay a...
  21. B

    Exploring Alternative Energy: Manufacturing, Economics & MWatts

    I know that economics must play a large part in determining why alternative energies aren't as effective as burning oil. Oil is cheaper. I'm an electrical engineering student and I'm curious about some of problems plaguing the alternative energy business. Ie. Solar, Wind, Geothermal, ect...One...
  22. C

    Alternative energy related gifts

    Here is a cheesy question. I have a brother who does alternative energy research and hopes to get a job in the field when he graduates this year. (His specific area is something called "enhanced geothermal".) I am trying to figure out if there is some sort of Christmas present I could give him...
  23. T

    Radioactive energy as an alternative energy source?

    I am new to this forum, and I am not a physics major. I simply had a thought earlier today of why radioactive energy, in particular gamma rays, can't be converted into usable energy. If some gamma rays are emitted as photons, couldn't one simply use solar panels as a means of capturing the...
  24. Z

    Laser Engineering / Photonics & Alternative Energy

    I'm looking for topic ideas for my Advanced Photonics class. We have to do a 5 - 10 page research paper, considering engineering feasibility and economics, of a project that somehow uses photonics or lasers to help the alternative energy cause. However, it needs to be new and innovative, not...
  25. I

    Exploring Alternative Energy Sources: What Research is Being Done?

    As we know, nearly all energy we utilized is transformed from matter, such as chem reaction, biochem process, nuclear reaction,... and the most efficient way that could transform all matter to energy now we know is the reaction produced by matter with its anti-matter. But the cost is much...
  26. J

    Alternative Energy Windmill Ideas

    Here's the problem... I am to build a simple windmill (small scale) to lift an x amount of weight twelve inches above the base plane. The required amount is to lift 200 grams, 12 inches in 2 minutes or less. The materials are to be mostly recycled; however, I am alotted $15 to buy any new...
  27. D

    Alternative energy sources to generate electricity?

    Hi there, I have a group project where we are to create (theoretically) a reliable power supply system for rural under developed areas in certain parts of the world. Now our task is under electrical engineering so it must be related to the power and ways to generate power, minimise the cost...
  28. Mk

    Ocean: New alternative energy source idea

    What's going on here? It doesn't seem like it would work well at all. I remember popular science said something about how little power it produced. Reminds me of a Carnot engine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_cycle Is this a good idea, or should I stick with nuclear fusion reactors?
  29. A

    Alternative Energy Source?

    Alternative Energy Source?? Anybody here familiar with the work being done by Dr. Randell Mills? I came across this article wherein it is claimed he has developed a process to create a new kind of hydrogen with a resultant release of massive amounts of energy. His work is controversial as it...
  30. Integral

    Can Ocean Waves Provide a Revolutionary Alternative Energy Source?

    Here is an intesting solution to extraction power from http://www.oceanpd.com/" [Broken]
  31. K

    Alternative Energy Sources

    I would like you know everybody's general thoughts on alternative fuels, and aleternative energy. Personally, I think ethanol is a great thing and I'm hoping it gets picked up by more manufacturers. Hydro-fuel cells also seem quite promising, being more efficient and not producing hazardous...
  32. P

    How can The Illuminati Effect revolutionize alternative energy?

    The alternative energy forum With my limited knowledge of magnetism and electricity/electronics I envision creating 2 sets of magnetic disks rotating on a axle made of glass of other material with little friction. The bottom magnets arranged with one pole facing the center of the disk on a...
  33. pelastration

    Alternative energy concept

    Which uses classic generators with a lot of friction. Also friction is the result of gravitation. An electronic engineer told me a classic generator uses about 30 to 35% of it's power to create the rotation against the electro-magnetic field. He told me that he never saw something similar to my...
  34. P

    Alternative energy sources

    As many may know, the bacteria Rhodoferax ferrireducens has the ability to take various types of sugar and "convert" it into electricity. Many of you also know that gas prices have sky rocketed. Where am I getting here? I plan on doing a experiment using R. ferrireducens and ethanol from...
  35. sheldon

    Wacked alternative energy ideas

    I had started an alternative energy thread in the tech. area. I have some wacked ideas about alternative power sources that are out of the realm of what are sound ideas for the logical person. Because of this I thought that if I posted here I could get some open minded thoughts and ideas on...
  36. sheldon

    Alternative Energy Sources

    As we know, the United States consumes more power than any other country in the world. The success of the U.S. can be directly related to its power consumption. Most of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels (Coal) that puts Co2 in the atmosphere, this is causing major pollution. The...
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