Non-Conventional Sources of Energy / Alternative Energy Sources

Non-Conventional Sources of Energy / Alternative Energy Sources

Non-conventional sources of energy are renewable sources of energy and inexpensive. It includes energy sources like solar, wind, ocean or tidal, dendro-thermal, geothermal heat, biomass, animal wastes etc. These sources are renewable as well as pollution free.

Solar Energy

Solar power is renewable resource which does not causes pollution and has no fuel costs and waste by-products but it is currently very expensive to produce.

It involves sun rays to convert sun light into electricity, using solar cells; heat water or air, using solar thermal panels; heat water to produce steam using parabolic mirror and also for passive solar heating of a building from the sunlight entering windows. Domestic heating and water supply can be met by this source of energy.

Several devices were developed through solar thermal routes which include solar cooker, solar water/air heaters, solar dryers, solar wood seasoning kilns and silicon systems. The solar thermal route uses radiation in the form of heat that in turn may be converted into mechanical, electrical or chemical energy.

The photovoltaic conversion system converts solar radiation directly into electricity with the help of silicon solar cells. It can be used in pumping of water of micro-irrigation and drinking purposes. Such systems help in spot electricity generation and help to replace diesel utilizing systems. Thus, these systems are totally free from chemical and noise pollution.

Wind Energy

Wind power is also a renewable resource of energy which has no waste by-products and no pollution is caused through it. When wind speed is low, less amount of energy is generated. Wind power binds the energy of the wind to propel the blades of wind turbines. These turbines make the rotation of magnets which generates electricity. Wind towers are usually built together on wind farms.

India ranks fourth among the wind energy producing countries of the world. Wind energy may be converted into mechanical and electrical energies. Today, wind energy has been utilized for pumping water in rural areas and may also be useful in remote areas. It helps in saving fossil fuels and could deliver on the spot small quantity of energy which is pollution free and free from environmental degradation. In India, Gujarat is the first state to start using wind power.

Ocean or Tidal Energy

Tides are also a source of unpolluted and renewable source of energy. Although, energy generation may lead to some serious environmental issues like salinity of water and sediment movement.

Tidal power or tidal energy is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity. A water turbine is placed in a tidal current, which turns an electrical generator or a gas compressor that stores the energy which can be used when needed.

India is surrounded by ocean by three sides, therefore it has huge potential to harness tidal energy. Generation of tidal power depends on the harnessing of rise and fall of sea level due to tidal action. Some of the potent sites of production of tidal energy include Gulf of Cambay, Gulf of Kutch and the Ganges Delta in the Sunderbans in the West Bengal.

Wave Energy

Wave power systems convert the motion of the waves into mechanical energy, which in turn can be used to generate electricity. These systems can be fixed to the seabed offshore or floating or may be constructed at the edge on a suitable shoreline. The continuous motion of the sea surface in the form of sea waves caused by wind constitutes a source of energy.

About 1.5% of the incoming energy from the sun is converted to wind energy. Some part of this is transferred to the sea surface which results in the generation of waves. This is carried to coastal lines where it is dissipated as the waves break. Extract of energy from waves is more efficient than direct collection of power from wind, since the wave energy is concentrated through the interaction of the wind and the free ocean surface and wave energy is produced.

Wave energy is of great potential but its production cost is high therefore is generation is not widely employed commercial technology.

Geothermal Energy

In this, heat present in the interior of the earth is utilized for the power generation. It is possible in volcanic regions or places where hot springs and geysers occur. Efforts are being made to use this energy for generating power and creating refrigeration etc. For production of geothermal energy, drilling earth into deeper level is necessary where there is a possibility of availability of geothermal fluids. Geothermal energy has low deployment costs and has a lesser impact on the environment than tidal or hydroelectric plants.

Bioenergy or Biomass

Biomass energy is abundant and renewable source of energy and a form of eco-friendly energy. It is an example of recycling resources. Biomass is created by plant material or vegetation. It is essentially stored solar energy that can be converted to electricity, fuel and heat.

Biomass energy comes from three sources- agricultural crop residues, municipal and industrial waste and energy plantations. It consists of rapid growing trees and grasses, agricultural residues like used vegetable waste, wheat straw or corn, wood waste including paper trash, yard clippings, sawdust and methane that is captured from landfills, municipal waste water treatment and livestock.

Biomass is a term generally used for materials like plant and animal wastes, algae, agricultural and forest residues. It also included biodegradable effluents from industries like canneries, sugar mills, breweries etc. Biomass energy system acts as a sink for CO. It helps in conservation of soil and water ceases water run-off and desertification.

Biomass is a second generation biofuel. Biofuel refers to fuel that is derived from living organisms or their metabolic products. The various sources of biofuels or bioenergy are hydrogen produced by certain microorganisms, methane/ biogas generated during gasification of organic wastes (by anaerobic digestion of biomass by methanogenic microbes), ethanol, energy plantation and biodiesel from petroplants.

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