Alternative energy sources are deeply embedded in our past. As we look into helping the environment we reach back to the healthier methods of creating energy. These are ten interesting ways that we are returning to our past for energy alternatives.

Alternative Sources of Energy

  • Many populations have used at least one alternative source of energy through most of history

  • The alternative energy cost can be very small compared to other energy costs

  • Using an alternative source of energy can help reduce pollution and decrease fossil fuel use and dependence


1. Wind Power Was Used Thousands Of Years Ago

In the year thirty two hundred BC, wind energy was used for the first time by the Egyptians. This population invented the sail, to capture the energy from the wind and use it to power their boats. This means that the Egyptians were the first to use an alternative source of energy for sailing, and to create sailboats.

2. Hydroelectric Power In 1920 Was A Big Alternative Source Of Energy

In the year 1920, the alternative energy cost was very small, and more than one fourth of all the electricity generated and used in the United States of America this year was generated using hydroelectric power. This is an astonishing amount of alternative renewable energy that was used almost one hundred years ago, yet today it is only a fraction of this amount.

3. Sun Energy Used To Save Sicily

In the year two hundred and thirteen BC, the hero Archimedes used solar energy to save Sicily, then called Syracuse, from Roman warships in an ambitious and unusual plan. He used mirrors to concentrate and reflect the energy from the sun onto the Roman ships, and to set them on fire so they were no longer a threat.

4. The Invention Of The Windmill

Windmills were first invented and used in China, where the energy of the wind was used to help grind plants and other materials. These devices used to capture an alternative source of energy were invented in the year two hundred BC, more than two thousand years ago, and these devices are still designed and used in basically the same way today as they were then, except now we use the energy harnessed to produce electricity instead.

5. Photovoltaics Are Discovered

In the year eighteen hundred and thirty nine, scientist Edmond Becquerel happened to realize that when certain materials absorb sunlight they produce electricity from it. This discovery led to lower alternative energy costs.

6. Hydropower As An Alternative Source Of Energy In History

Hydropower, or energy from the flow of water, was first used by the Greeks in the BC period as an alternative source of energy. This invention was used by the Greeks to turn large wheels, which in turn would grind the wheat in the mill into flour to be used for cooking.

7. The First Solar Water Heater

The very first solar water heater was designed and built in the year eighteen hundred and ninety one. It was invented by Clarence Kemp, who came from Maryland, and was called the Climax. To purchase a thirty two gallon solar hot water heater at the time only cost twenty five dollars.

8. Hydroelectricity In America

Hydroelectricity is a valuable alternative source of energy. The very first hydroelectric power plant in the United States was finally finished and ready for operation in the year eighteen hundred and eighty two. This plant was located in the town of Appleton, Wisconsin.

9. Tree Fungus Offers Promise As An Alternative Source Of Energy

A tree fungus from the rain forest of Patagonia is showing great promise as a source of biodiesel. When exposed to low oxygen conditions, this fungus releases enzymes which contain heavy and long hydrocarbon chains similar to those found in oil. This fungus was discovered a few years ago, and researchers are working on ways to advance this technology.

10. Algae Used As A Biofuel Source

When it comes to biofuels, many feedstocks have been used. The newest of these is algae, because some strains of this organic matter can be very high in oils, which are used to process biodiesel. In addition, algae is not part of th efood supply so there is no worries about taking food crops or fertile lands for biofuel production.

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