Home > Energy Sources > Alternative Types Of Energy Sources

Alternative Types Of Energy Sources

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 17 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
Alternative Types Of Energy Sources

The need to find new types of renewable energy is urgent - oil reserves are running out, and quickly.

The lifestyles that we in the Western world have developed as a result of seemingly plentiful energy resources either have to dramatically change or we need alternative sources to produce the electricity we use in abundance to power our homes, or the fuel that powers our cars and aeroplanes.

There are several different types of energy being produced today. Solar and wind power are now well-known as alternative renewable energies. But what are the other potential energy sources, and how can we convert them to energy, and with what special technology as well as taking into account our energy efficiency?


Coal is relatively inexpensive, and easy to recover, from within coalfields in the US and Russia, but the process of extraction requires expensive air pollution controls, due to the high levels of mercury and sulphur dioxide involved. Coal and the processes involved in its extraction and processing are a significant contributor to acid rain and global warming. Also, coal requires an extensive transportation system in place (also contributing emissions to the atmosphere) which counts against it becoming the major energy resource.

Nuclear Energy

The positive issues supporting the promotion of nuclear energy, and the reason why several European Governments, including the UK, and the US are investing in this technology, is that the fuel used is inexpensive, and the energy generated is the most concentrated. It is an energy type where, the waste produced is very compact, it is easy to transport in its form as a fuel, and it doesn't contribute greenhouse gases or acid rain effects. However, the reasons not to pursue this course seem to outweigh the positives: there is a potential nuclear proliferation issue, as the world is currently watching in Iran, amongst other places; It requires the resolution of the high-level, long-term waste issues; this technology needs a larger capital expenditure because of emergency, radioactive waste, containment, and storage solutions, and finally there is a large world-wide public lobby against nuclear development.

Hydro-electric Energy

Once a dam is built, generating power from the build-up of water is inexpensive, but this is quite a limited source of power as it depends upon the continued elevation of the water. In the Western US, the Government has invested heavily in dams.

Other well-known projects, in Scotland, and most recently the Yangtze River in China, are controversial because they potentially threaten human life if they collapse, and certainly affect fish stocks, and create environmental damage for areas that flood surrounding the dam. Unfortunately, all reservoirs eventually fill with sediment, and the rate of this is unknowable.


Biomass is a different type of energy altogether and it is still very much in its infancy, but using renewable, continually-growing plant material seems to be a sensible option. Large areas of agricultural land would have to be turned over to these crops, and using biomass fuel could make a significant contribution to global warming because the fuel has a low heat output, and would need to be used in greater quantity.

Refuse-based fuels

This option too seems a tremendous possibility - burning our rubbish and using its byproduct. Again, this is also in its infancy. It is known to have a low sulphur dioxide emission, but the by-product created, known as Flyash, can contain metals such as cadmium and lead.


Hydrogen has first to be obtained by the electrolysis of water, or by breaking down natural gas. It is an energy type which is highly explosive, and must be compressed to be contained and carried. It is also very costly to produce, yet we are seeing the first generation of cars powered by this form of energy.


Fracking or "Induced hydraulic fracturing" is the process of splitting shale rock to release gas and oil. It's widely used as an energy source in the states and is a becoming a hotly debated topic here in the UK.

The Way Forward

These are some of the potential new forms of energy available. All of these mentioned are beyond the trial stage, and are creating power in some form, pumped back into our power supply, all around the world. There are others, less well-known, still in the development stage. What is clear is that now is the time for research and exploration, using the resources we have, in the most sustainable way we can, in order to thrive in the future. It is in all our interests to explore these options.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I would like to build a bio-gas system on my farm, to run a generator, to supply 2 houses. Any help you can give would be great.
Rob - 10-May-14 @ 8:13 PM
I agree with you about nuclear energy but I don't think anybody wants to be driving around with radioactive material in their trunk and the reaction of the public wouldn't be exactly "welcoming" to immigrants or navy seals knowing that when they come home they will see four eyed thirteen year olds on skateboards when they come home they want to see normal nice well mannered people plus in todays world their are always terrorist attacks on the united states of America.
bobthebodybuilder - 23-Oct-13 @ 4:01 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • doctor
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    Thanks i have got more in learning skill on pollution ,in this website .
    14 March 2018
  • N/A
    Re: Insurance and Mortgage Issues: Wood & Straw Build
    Looking for mortgage for straw bale extension build.
    3 March 2018
  • koa
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    stop building it causes pollution and its damaging our earth
    1 March 2018
  • Peterfc
    Re: Environmentally Friendly, Non Toxic Paint
    Hi I have read what is said about Natural paints and I have a question. I have built a 5,000 lt fish tank in…
    20 February 2018
  • Pickles
    Re: Cob Building
    Hi a, I'm looking into creating a noise barrier between a barn conversion and a busy road. The site has a lot of clay and clay chalk mix so I was…
    18 February 2018
  • Ishezomchumisi
    Re: Stone Construction
    Hi.i have a question ....Sketches the constraction techiniques of stones wall
    10 February 2018
  • fish
    Re: Fracking: Truly Sustainable?
    this is helpful but could you maybe include something about why people think fracking and nuclear power are more sustainable than…
    4 February 2018
  • SustainableBuild
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    Ashwin - Your Question:Hi,here I am sharing my story and asking for legal advice or remedy.I am presently living in flat on fourth…
    31 January 2018
  • Ashwin
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    Hi,here I am sharing my story and asking for legal advice or remedy. I am presently living in flat on fourth floor and on rent in…
    30 January 2018
  • SustainableBuild
    Re: Brownfield Sites
    Pops - Your Question:Hi I own a small parcel of land that I belive is a brownfield site, the site was MOD land up until around 1970, it was then…
    30 January 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SustainableBuild website. Please read our Disclaimer.