The ongoing damage that is being done to the environment through the unsustainable use of fossil fuels shouldn’t be news to anybody. In a bid to ensure that we are still able to create and consume energy at the same rate we do now – with the same reliability and efficiency – the advancement of, and focus on, making renewable sources of energy our primary resources have never been more crucial.
Two such leading areas are hydropower and waste to energy, with both offering clean alternatives to the energy crisis. With some large-scale engineering businesses now shifting their focus from fossil fuels far more toward renewables, it’s encouraging to see such transparent and public investment and research being contributed to worthwhile and important causes.
Hydroelectric power isn’t a new idea – its origins are said to go back as far as the 1770s – but given the higher cost of setting up the technology to convert hydropower to energy compared to more traditional fossil fuel methods, it’s only in recent years that it’s begun to grow far more in to its own on a mainstream and global scale, establishing itself as a viable option and resource.
Once the construction of a hydropower plant is complete, the act of collecting electricity from the water produces no direct waste, and the output of any greenhouse gasses is considerably lower than any fossil fuel alternatives.
Available in various forms, the most conventional method of collection is through the construction of dams, but pumped-storage (moving large bodies of water between reservoirs), utilizing smaller bodies of water like rivers and tidal power (harnessing the daily rise and fall of our oceans) are all on the rise.
Waste To Energy
Less about harnessing and more about conversion, waste to energy is the best thought of as a form of recycling (or energy recovery) as on its most basic level, it’s taking things we no longer have a real use for and making them into something we actually do.
By conducting either energy or heat through combustion, plants recover the by-products of the incineration process and convert those back into something worthwhile.
In the past, however, incineration has been far from environmentally friendly, with the emissions created as part of the process the complete antithesis of what has now become the primary concern.
These days, plants conducting any incineration – that exist within countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – have strict emissions standards to adhere to.
By ensuring that the levels of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, heavy metals, and dioxins are measured and limited as standard, this helps severely lessen the impact on the environment and as a bonus, provides a viable and far more planet-friendly alternative to landfilling, which would likely be the case if those same waste items weren’t sent to be recycled.