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Tsunami Waves And Burning Leaves: Alternative Energy (Part 3)

Dec 17, 13 Tsunami Waves And Burning Leaves: Alternative Energy (Part 3)

Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

So far we have looked at alternative energy sources from space and volcanoes. However, what about the land and the sea? CNN.com states, “Wave energy is already being used across the world.

How does one harness the energy of a wave? Well, they start a wave farm! A wave farm is a sectioned off portion of the ocean where machines are installed to utilize the energy produced by waves and transform it into electricity (much more tech savvy than Old McDonald). Earlier in 2013, the world’s largest wave farm was approved for construction.  It is estimated that this farm will be able to power roughly 30,000 homes.

The machinery underneath the waves consists of “massive buoys” that are rotated by the “motion of the ocean.” CNN.com says that each of the buoys can generate up to 800kW.

Wave farms may seem like the watery cousin of wind farms, however, experts say that they have many more benefits. Waves are less variable in magnitude, easier to predict, and less volatile. Concepts such as these are all about using the earth’s resources to the best of our capabilities.

In addition to harnessing the sea, why not look at other energy sources on land? Obviously, coal has been our go-to mechanism for quite some time. But, we could burn excess biomass (wood, leaves, etc.) to produce gasses that are energy efficient.

Denmark is interested in this concept, but they struggle to find dry biomass to burn. Any boy scout knows that you cannot start a fire with wet leaves and damp wood. Therefore, they are currently experimenting with a “drying furnace” that would remove the moisture from biomass and allow it to be burnt for energy.

Burning biomass may create more problems than it solves. It increases the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and could be harmful to the environment. We would also be destroying plant life. Unless this practice was monitored, it could be abused and ruin the natural resources of a country.

The take home message of this “Alternative Energy” series is that we, as humans, are beginning to realize that our go-to energy source may not last forever.  As we continue to change the world we live in through our inventions, we must find a way to sustain our current standard of living.

Businesses are choosing to invest and explore these alternative energy sources, but change does not happen until the public considers these to be viable options. Alternative energy sources should seek to shed their “hipster” identity and seek out the mainstream lifestyle.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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About 

Alexis has studied biology at Anderson University in Anderson, IN. She has experience in both theoretical and laboratory science. She studied bioethics at Yale University and has worked on diabetes research through Indiana University School of Medicine. Alexis is passionate about science, stories, and sharing her love of those things with all that are interested.

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