Friday, April 8, 2011

Seven Viable Energy Alternatives to Oil

Alternative energy gift guide - Solar, wind, f...Image by pt via FlickrBy Mark W. Medley

As we enter a decade of declining stocks of oil, along with the lack of investment in alternative energies by many of our governments. We have to face the fact that newer, cleaner and more sustainable energies will be needed in the near future, to replace our current over-dependence on oil. What are the seven viable energy alternatives to oil?

1. Water
Few people know that in late 2010, a conventional family car drove over 200 kms on one litre of water. The Japanese inventor thought he had solved our dependence on oil. There was one problem, his solution was dismissed as unsustainable by the automobile industry that largely depends on producing petrol-based engines. The engine used was no more expensive or different to a conventional petrol engine, with a simple inexpensive modification.

2. Solar Energy
Satellites in space are fueled by solar energy. Space technology has been at the forefront of energy research for several decades, but this has rarely been accepted as a truly viable solution on our planet. The reasons cited are the initial installation costs, and the fact that it is almost free after this cost.

3. Body Heat
A Swedish station emits enough energy from excess human body heat, to light and heat an adjacent office building, cutting energy costs to almost zero. Experts are now considering further research into this idea, which a real estate broker designed using 19th century technology.

4. Used Cooking Oil
A new eco-designed building in London, uses a novel new way to save on energy costs - used cooking oil. Instead of powering the buildings generators with ordinary petrol, filtered used cooking oil has replaced it. The oil is filtered and sold by a local entrepreneur who purchases used oil from nearby restaurants, and cleans it through a distiller. This newly cleaned oil is far more economical, and cleaner to use than conventional diesel, and now provides over 25% of the buildings energy.

5. Geothermal Energy
Nurturing our volatile volcanic regions as an energy source is nothing new. Iceland is the leading producer of this energy, Currently around 24% of the country's energy is produced through five geothermal energy plants, whilst 85$ of homes are heated by geothermal heating. Volcanic countries do have a viable energy source to oil, if they invest in geothermal energy.

6. Using Fermented Plants
All over the globe, communities have created their own solutions to replacing oil based energy- from a palm oil plantation in Indonesia, which produces all its energy needs from fermenting discarded husks, to a village in Africa which uses fermented weeds as a replacement for oil. Most of these projects are self-financed by the community.

7. Steam
In the 18th century steam revolutionized the way we traveled and manufactured our goods. Australian scientists a decade ago, created a clean steam engine, which incorporated 20th century technology, with an 18th century design. It proved to be cleaner than oil, and far less expensive than oil, but has yet to be mass produced.

All over the globe individuals and communities are creating their own solutions to using oil. This has helped cut down on energy costs, allowing many communities to escape our dependence on a depleted, and expensive unsustainable resource. Perhaps by emulating these ideas, we could in the future become energy independent.ourselves.

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