Alternatives to Solar Power

Solar is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy available for consumer use but is not as popular for generating electricity for large scale requirements such as industrial applications or to supply power for wider areas. Solar power, as the name suggests, is the process of converting the light from the Sun into usable energy. The reliance on sunlight is also its main weakness as it requires the energy to be stored for use at times where sunlight is not available. However, since sustainable power sources are a real requirement in order to navigate our current climate crisis, it is prudent to invest in development for alternative sources as well alongside solar power to ensure that the best or most viable outcome is not delayed due to fixation on just one solution. While modern solar systems such as 10kW solar system are suitable for residential use or in the smaller scale, other forms of renewable energy are more suited for higher power loads. This article describes several such alternatives that may have a future in the array of sustainable energy sources we use.

Nuclear Power

Nuclear is currently the most viable energy source out of any we have discovered. It uses the energy released when fissile materials undergo nuclear fission to heat water which is used to spin turbines and generate electricity. This results in a large amount of electricity being produced compared to the cost of the fissile material making it the most efficient source of energy. There are also no emissions produced through power generation making it more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. However, the nuclear waste should be contained or disposed of safely, and the power stations should be made to exact specifications and safety standards or risk catastrophic failure.

Wind Power

Wind power is generated using windmills which turn due to the speed of the wind, thereby converting the kinetic energy in the wind to electric energy. Windmills are safe and clean but require large areas upon which to place the windmills to generate sufficient power. Moreover, it is also reliant on the weather, albeit to a lesser degree than solar power is.

Hydro Power

Hydro power, or hydroelectric power uses the energy in moving water to spin turbines and generate electricity. It requires the construction of dams and reservoirs to manipulate the flow of water but does not harm or impact the environment in anyway during the production of energy. They also do not emit any harmful chemicals, gases or particulate matter to the environment to cause air or water pollution unlike fossil fuel combustion. Hydro power plants have extremely high lifetimes and are suitable for countries with water bodies inland or access to the sea and the marginal cost of electricity production is low making it a very cost-effective power generation method.

It should be noted that while sustainable alternatives for solar exist, none of them are scalable to the requirements of a house or small power load and instead focus on large scale energy production, for which solar still holds a unique position.