Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum have been our major energy sources since the Industrial Revolution began in 19th century. Now we have proved their negative effects such as producing greenhouse gases and we have realized our need for finding new energy sources which will be harmless to earth’s ecological system and which won’t maximize the natural proportion of greenhouse gases (>%1) to other gases in the atmosphere. By the end of the Second World War many scientists were beginning to become enthusiastic about inventing an energy source that would be inexhaustible, inexpensive and clean. The invention of the atomic bomb inspired the scientists to produce and to use nuclear power in a peaceful way. Although it is more environmentally friendly then burning fossil fuels, the fact that nuclear power plants are expensive and can release deadly radiation in case of an accident, still forms a question whether it’s advantageous to environment or not.
Scientists recently work on creating new options instead of burning fossil fuels, by inventing a new energy source or by advancing and modernizing an old method. In the next paragraphs I’ll explain some of these different ways to produce energy instead of using fossil fuels.
First of all, solar energy is probably one of the cleanest energy production methods. It is an inexhaustible resource, sunlight is free and accessible by everyone. The only disadvantage is the fact that solar panels are still very expensive and that the recent technology can convert only %41.1 of the sunlight it receives.
Secondly experts have also taken hydrogen into consideration while trying to develop a new system as an estimated 90 procent of our planet is composed with hydrogen. In order to provide energy using hydrogen, the gas has to be in its pure form. By electrolysis we can separate the hydrogen for example from the oxygen molecules in water. Once we have pure hydrogen it can be converted into energy and be used in two different ways;
Third of all, bioenergy obtained from biomass is also a possible option. Biomass is organic material that can be used as an energy source. It doesn’t disrupt the ecological system of our planet as it converts carbon in the form of organic material into energy and carbon which can be used by the nature again, instead of energy and greenhouse gases.
Other possibilities are wind energy, geothermal energy and water energy.
Benefit of using water energy is that it's inexhaustible because the earth will have water as long as the sun will shine. But building a tidal power-generating system costs too much and the level of water is variable which makes it difficult to estimate how much energy will be produced.
Wind energy also has many advantages and disadvantages. Wind is free and endlessly renewable but the noise produced by wind turbines may be a problem. Wind energy is also very safe as it's not flammabel like fossil fuels and it's not radioactive like nuclear power plants.
Geothermal energy is energy produced from heat reserved in our own planet. Geothermal power plants have very small land requirements but the energy produced by them is also not 100% reliable due to meteorological changes.