Alternative Sources of Energy: Geothermal Power and Solar power

Essay by Ymes March 2007

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It's a well-known fact that the world is dependent on fossil fuels. But how dependent? A survey shows that approximately 95% of our energy, and specifically around 66% of the world's electrical power, is provided by oil, natural gas, and coal.(1) Transportation and petrochemical industries are other examples of areas where oil is used, while natural gas is mainly used for heating systems and as fuel in engines and power stations. As for coal, it is used for producing steam and melting minerals such as iron; but more importantly, it takes the first place in generating electricity, as it provides nearly 60% of the world's demands.(12) Oil, gas, and coal are expected to run out in more or less 30, 70, and 250 years, respectively.(4) As a result, we are very likely to face serious problems in transportation, heating systems, supply of electricity, functionality of factories and power stations, as well as many other problems.

Meanwhile, we are facing serious environmental consequences. Since burning fossil fuels, especially coal, produces carbon dioxide, the earth's temperature has been rising 2ºC annually.(12) This has also resulted in geographical changes. In Alaska, for example, more than 300m of a mountain has melted.(6) Similarly, more sulphur dioxide has caused more acid rain, which first appeared in Manchester just after the industrial revolution.(1) What's more, the world has recorded more than 100 natural disasters in less than a decade since 2000.(5) Our planet will not stand this for long if we continue relying on fossil fuels, and yet we can't function without them. For this reason, alternative energy sources should be found.

I would like to present two renewable energy sources. Let us begin by looking at geothermal power. The term geothermal comes from two Greek words that mean "Earth heating".(2) This sort of energy has...