Alternative energies – making sensible use of solar energy, wind and water power

The generation of energy is a task that is essential for human survival. None of our modern technologies would function without energy. To ensure that the energy supply remains secure in the future, more and more emphasis is being placed on renewable energies. For the good of the environment, but also for the good of the people, this type of energy production is probably the future.

Alternative energies – types, tasks & their importance

Up to now, energy in the EU has mainly been generated from fossil fuels, such as coal or oil, and to a lesser extent from nuclear fuels. Alternative energy sources, such as solar energy, hydroelectric power or wind power, have so far played a rather subordinate role. Yet these renewable energies are the future. What are their tasks, what are the different types and why is it so important to use alternative energies for energy production?

  • Keyfact 1 – alternative energies are the future of energy production and must be further promoted and improved in the coming years
  • Keyfact 2 – Fossil fuels are slowly running out and will sooner or later be depleted and no longer usable

Alternative energies – why are they so important?

The production of energy with the help of nuclear fuels has clearly more disadvantages than advantages. The nuclear waste that is produced during energy generation cannot yet be converted into an ecologically safe form using any technology. So the waste will always be a burden on the environment. The risk of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste repositories is therefore too high and additionally associated with extremely adverse consequences in the event of the release of large quantities of radioactive material.

But fossil fuels also have some disadvantages. Probably the most devastating is the bad impact on the environment. The burning of coal, oil and gas produces CO2 emissions that are proven to increase the greenhouse effect. The consequences are natural disasters and a steadily progressing climate change. But also security-relevant aspects are directly recognizable in the oil age with the permanent oil and gulf crises. The economic risks caused by oil have a direct influence on the world economy and regularly cause economic crises. The most important reason why fossil fuels do not represent the future of energy production is the time span of the fuels. They are non-renewable and will run out in the foreseeable future. First oil, then natural gas, and coal last. Sooner or later, fossil fuels will be used up and will therefore no longer be able to provide a source of energy.

The solution should therefore be renewable energies, which are not only environmentally friendly, but are also eternally renewable and therefore cannot be consumed. Solar energies (water, biomass, wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic) therefore show many advantages. There are closed cycles, the CO2 is spared and also with regard to the national economy the alternative energies rise. The consumers of renewable energies are not only independent of large energy companies, but also create new jobs in their own country and achieve positive effects on the balance of payments and actions. The environment also thanks us, because after decades of damage with CO2 emissions and nuclear fuels, we fall back on the basis of nature and exhaust the given possibilities.

Renewable energies – hydropower as an energy supplier

The generation of energy from hydropower is a method that is not very common so far. Nevertheless, there are some advantages to using energy from this renewable resource. The energy conversion happens here with a very high efficiency, which meant that a high percentage of the energy used can be converted into electricity. In addition, the energy production from hydropower does not release any pollutants and therefore does not harm the environment and the waste heat is also very low.

The use of these alternative energies will therefore continue to improve and spread as long as they are economically feasible and economically justifiable. Because a disadvantage shows up also here. The construction of a hydroelectric power plant usually interferes with the ecological balance of the watercourse, which is very sensitive. The planning of such a plant is therefore not necessarily easy and requires a great deal of specialist knowledge and a certain ecological orientation.

Hydroelectric power plants use the gradient of a body of water, usually a river. The flowing water is taken from the natural riverbed and directed through pipes or channels to a turbine. The water causes the turbine to rotate. The rotation generates electricity, which is converted into usable energy by a generator.

Renewable energies – wind power as an energy supplier

Energy can also be generated from wind power. For this, however, the wind must have a certain strength. In coastal areas, the wind is usually stronger, which is why more wind farms are being built here. Off-shore wind farms, which are built in the sea near the coast, also use these high wind speeds. In order for wind to be used sensibly for energy generation, it needs a speed of four to five metres per second.

Different wind turbines are used to generate energy from wind. On the one hand, there are wind turbines with 12 to 24 blades. These are mostly used for direct mechanical energy use, for example to drive water pumps. Probably the best known, however, are the wind turbines with two or three blades, which can often be seen in fields or on the coast. They generate direct alternating current through rotation and a constant speed via a generator. The rotor blades are specially designed to withstand all conditions and still work effectively.

Renewable energies – solar energy as an energy supplier

Solar energy is probably the most widespread renewable energy to date. Both as a solar system on rooftops and as solar parks on open spaces, you see solar cells again and again. The solar cells make use of the energy of the sun and convert it into usable energy. Here, a distinction is generally made between solar systems and photovoltaic systems.

Solar systems use the energy of the sun and convert it into usable heat. A solar system can therefore be used, for example, to operate heating systems in the house. For this purpose, houses are specially planned so that the sun contributes as much as possible to the heating of the house.

Photovoltaics, on the other hand, uses the sun’s energy to convert it into electricity. Photovoltaic systems are also installed on the roof for this purpose, which can capture the solar energy and convert it into usable energy for the household. This can be used to generate electricity in the house and run machines.

It makes most sense to use both systems in combination, as the household is then no longer dependent on large energy companies and all the energy for their own home is produced themselves. The advantages are enormous and the environment is protected by such houses very much. The optimal use of solar energy requires quite a bit of prerequisites the advantages compensate for this, however. Learn more about solar energy and the use of renewable energy in our great guide to photovoltaics!