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Alternative energy is a term used for an energy source that is an alternative to using fossil fuels. Generally, it indicates energies that are non-traditional and have low environmental impact. The term alternative is used to contrast with fossil fuels according to some sources. By most definitions alternative energy doesn't harm the environment, a distinction which separates it from renewable energy which may or may not have significant environmental impact.

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form, such as electricity, using wind turbines. At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 94.1 gigawatts.Although wind currently produces about 1% of world-wide electricity use, it accounts for approximately 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 9% in Spain and Portugal, and 6% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland (2007 data). Globally, wind power generation increased more than fivefold between 2000 and 2007.

Most wind power is generated in the form of electricity. Large scale wind farms are connected to electrical grids. Individual turbines can provide electricity to isolated locations. In windmills, wind energy is used directly as mechanical energy for pumping water or grinding grain.

Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions when it displaces fossil-fuel-derived electricity. The intermittency of wind seldom creates problems when using wind power to supply a low proportion of total demand, but it presents extra costs when wind is to be used for a large fraction of demand. However these costs even for quite large percentage penetrations are considered to be modest.

The siting of turbines has become a controversial issue amongst those concerned about the value of natural landscapes, particularly since the best sites for wind generation tend to be in scenic mountain and oceanside areas.


Solar energy is the heat and light radiated from the Sun that powers Earth's climate and supports life. Solar technologies allow controlled use of this energy resource. Solar power is a synonym of solar energy or refers specifically to the conversion of sunlight into electricity by photovoltaics (Conentrating Photovoltaics or CFV), concentrating solar thermal devices (Concentrating Solar Termal or CST) and various experimental technologies.

The controlled use of solar energy is an important consideration in building design. Thermal mass is used to conserve the heat that sunshine delivers to all buildings. Daylighting techniques optimize the use of light in buildings. Solar water heaters heat swimming pools and provide domestic hot water. In agriculture, greenhouses grow specialty crops and photovoltaic-powered pumps provide water for grazing animals. Evaporation ponds find applications in the commercial and industrial sectors where they are used to harvest salt and clean waste streams of contaminants.

Solar distillation and disinfection techniques produce potable water for millions of people worldwide. Family-scale solar cookers and larger solar kitchens concentrate sunlight for cooking, drying and pasteurization. More sophisticated concentrating technologies magnify the rays of the Sun for high-temperature material testing, metal smelting and industrial chemical production. A range of prototype solar vehicles provide ground, air and sea transportation.

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