Last updated on: 1/29/2009 | Author:

What Are Alternative Energies?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The University of Utah’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in the “Alternative Energy Sources,” section of its website, (accessed Dec. 12, 2008), wrote the following about alternative energy:

“Alternative energy refers to energy sources which are not based on the burning of fossil fuels or the splitting of atoms. The renewed interest in this field of study comes from the undesirable effects of pollution (as witnessed today) both from burning fossil fuels and from nuclear waste byproducts. Fortunately there are many means of harnessing energy which have less damaging impacts on our environment. Here are some possible alternatives:

  • Solar
  • Wind Power
  • Geothermal
  • Tides
  • Hydroelectric”
Dec. 12, 2008

The Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) Offshore Energy and Minerals Management (OEMM) Program within the US Department of the Interior, in the “Alternate Energy Programs,” section of its website, (accessed Dec. 12, 2008), provided the following definition of alternative energy:

“Fuel sources that are other than those derived from fossil fuels. Typically used interchangeably for renewable energy. Examples include: wind, solar, biomass, wave and tidal energy.”

Dec. 12, 2008

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in the “Glossary of Environmental Terms” section of its website, (accessed Dec. 12, 2008), provided the following definition of alternative energy:

“[E]nergy that is not popularly used and is usually environmentally sound, such as solar or wind energy (as opposed to fossil fuels).”

Dec. 12, 2008, an informational website about climate change and alternative energy, in a section of its website titled “Alternative and Renewable Energy” (accessed Dec. 17, 2008), provided the following definition of alternative energy:

“Alternative energy refers to those methods of generating heat and electricity that are not part of traditional power generation. These [alternative energies] are not necessarily renewable forms of energy… such as nuclear power, ‘clean’ coal, local combined power and heat stations and hydrogen. [E]xamples of [renewable] alternative energy include wind power, solar power, geothermal power, hydroelectric power, wave power, tidal power and biofuels.”

Dec. 17, 2008

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) within the US Department of Energy (DOE), in the “Renewable Energy Sources: A Consumer’s Guide” section of its website (accessed Dec. 12, 2008), wrote the following:

“Renewable energy resources are naturally replenished in a relatively short period of time. They include biomass, hydropower, geothermal energy, wind energy, and solar energy. In 2005, about 6% of all energy consumed, and about 9% of total electricity production was from renewable energy sources. Alternative transportation fuels are fuels used for transportation other than gasoline or diesel. Some alternative transportation fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are renewable while others, such as propane and natural gas, are non-renewable.

Renewable energy resources are virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time. Renewable energy resources include biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind, ocean thermal, wave action, and tidal action…

Renewable energy is used for electricity generation, heat in industrial processes, heating and cooling buildings, and transportation fuels. In 2004, electricity generation accounted for about 70% of total renewable energy consumption. The total amount of electricity generated from renewable energy was about 359 billion kilowatthours (kWh), about 9% of total U.S. electricity generation. Industrial process heat and building space heating accounted for 25% of renewable energy use and the remainder was used as vehicle fuels.”

Dec. 12, 2008