In grade school, you probably learned about renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. The non-renewable ones consisting of mainly fossil fuels and the renewable consisting of wood or some other type that can easily be replaced.
As more and more people become consumers of coal, oil and natural gas, the United States slowly became less reliant on wood for an energy source.
Up until about the mid-1800s, wood supplied nearly all of the nation's energy needs. Today, much of the use of renewable energy is increasing, mainly those such as wind and solar. Why is this happening? Well, unlike fossil fuels the renewables regenerate.
What is alternative energy? Alternative energy is ANY energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. This includes anything from solar power to hydro and oceanic power that can address the concerns that are put out by fossil fuels. By switching to these we can ensure a safe and habitable planet for future generations.
What do you think of when you hear alternative energy? Is it clean? Renewable? Many people assume both those things but they also feel that it may not be the most cost-effective. Which is true right now. Even so, alternative energy is still the answer.
So where does that put us in today's settings?
Well, currently we are at 0.73 on the Kardashev scale. This means that while we are most likely going to be a Type 1 that is, if we keep burning fossil fuels. This is why alternative energy is so important.
So now that we know this, the best way to reach a Type 1 status is to rely on the sun for most of our energy, if not all. of course, this isn't the only good source of renewable energy. However, with solar come the problem of reliability. What do you do on the days that aren't sunny or are windy and rainy? Well, we could always go back to coal and oil, or follow California's example of overproducing and then storing energy that isn't used for a later date.
And Solar isn't the only option out there. These several others including hydro and wind energy.
One of the major advantages of alternative or renewable energy includes that it is renewable (and while it is possible), the chances of running out of it completely are slim.
The disadvantage? It is harder to produce higher amounts of energy that is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This means either we need to reduce the amount that we use or build more energy producing centers or balancing many different power sources.
The sooner we get better about investing in other and cleaner energies, the sooner we will be able to see the benefits of it, whether that be in the future or now.