Solar Energy

Even though solar energy is the first kind of energy that is thought of when someone mentions alternative energy, it is just one type of many possibilities. Perhaps solar energy is more popular simply because it is a working technology that is already being used.

Every day, scientists make new discoveries to existing energy technologies and others work with emerging technology to create new and better ways to generate energy.

Different kinds of alternative energy will be discussed here, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of employing these kinds of energy.

Wind energy

Wind energy is harnessed by windmills. When the wind blows, windmills spin. As the windmills spin, an electrical current is generated and used to produce energy.

Obviously one of the big advantages of using a system that runs on wind energy is the price. Because electricity costs have increased as much as 50 percent in the last few years, many people are looking for any kinds of options to decreasing this price.

In some ways, the wind energy can help decrease the cost because the homeowner does not need to pay high prices for fossil fuels. However, many of the power companies are unable to or unwilling to invest in wind farms.

Because it can take a lot of land and a lot of windmills for a large power company to harness enough wind to power the homes within its market, many of the power companies are unable or unwilling to pay the prime prices for the amount of land that would be needed to harvest the wind.

Solar energy

Solar energy is energy that is collected by PV panels and converted to electricity that can be used in a home or even on the campground.

Those who are looking for the biggest savings usually use these panels on their roof to collect the UV rays from the sun. Although some think that a cloudy day could cause problems, this is not necessarily true. UV rays are produced by the sun even when there's cloud cover.

Photovoltaic (PV) panels collect the UV rays. The rays are collected and inverted and either stored in a battery or used. Installing a battery system is wise, especially in those places where there is a lot of sunlight and the energy collected exceeds the amount of energy that needs to be spent during the day.

By storing the energy, the homeowner can use the energy throughout the night and at other times when large amounts of solar energy are not being produced.

Individual solar power systems can be tied in to the local power company's grid. Excess energy can be then be transferred and "sold" back to the power company for distribution elsewhere. Right now, this kind of arrangement isn't that lucrative in the U.S. because of the government policy involved - any individual producer who sells excess solar energy to the power company will receive credits, but only until the individual meter zeroes out. However, in other parts of the world, governments are proving there are better, more lucrative policies that can benefit everyone.

The market for alternative energy continues to grow as natural resources have continued to become more depleted with each passing year. Those who use these kinds of energy are likely to see large savings in their utility bills, but it could take several years for the systems to begin paying for themselves.

Depending on what kind of alternative energy system a homeowner uses, it could take up to 10-15 years before real results and savings are seen. Consult an online solar power calculator. Use the specs and cost of the solar power system to figure out exactly what the return on investment will be under current policies.

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