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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Environmental Science
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Alternative Energy

  • Non-renewable energy and renewable energy are the two categories of alternative energy resources (not from fossil fuels)
  • Solar energy can be passive (via architectural design) or active (like with solar panels.) Active solar energy involves mechanical to move air and/or water in units such as solar collectors or photovoltaics
  • Solar thermal generators project light energy onto a container to heat up a water supply in order to run machines or provide energy
  • Fuel cells (i.e. hydrogen fuel cells) are a highly efficient option for powering machines such as cars, but currently the technology is expensive to mass produce
  • Water power has been in use since ancient times, but today it is largely done via hydroelectric dams and pump storage systems
  • There are numerous negative impacts from large-scale dams: blocked fish migrations, accumulated sediment, more evaporation, etc.
  • Ocean energy and tidal power can be harnessed in coastal regions
  • Wind power can generate energy via wind turbines. It is today’s cheapest form of alternative energy and its use is growing at a fast rate
  • Biofuels (firewood, organic waste, crop fuel) are the oldest form of energy consumed by humans, and today over 1 billion people use wood as their primary source of energy
  • Geothermal energy can be deep-earth (high density) or shallow-earth (low density). Its use is a small fraction of the total alternative energy usage but it may become more common in the future

Alternative Energy

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Non-renewable vs. Renewable Energy 0:05
    • Alternative Energy
    • Non-renewables
    • Renewables
  • Solar Energy Basics 1:37
    • Worldwide
    • Passive Solar Energy Systems
    • Active Solar Energy Systems
  • Active Solar Energy 4:21
    • Require Mechanical Power to Move Air and/or Water
    • Solar Collectors
    • Photovoltaics
  • Solar Thermal Generators 8:54
    • Solar One
    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Fuel Cells - A Great Alternative for Cars 13:11
    • Fuel Cars
    • The Only Waste is Water
  • Water Power Basics 17:13
    • Successful Since the Time of the Roman Empire
    • Hydroelectric Power Harnesses the Power of Water Stored Behind Dams
    • Pump Storage System
  • Small-Scale and Environmental Impact 19:25
    • Large Dam Locations and Use
    • Environmental Impact
  • Ocean Energy 21:54
    • Tidal Power
    • Flood Tide
    • Ebb Tide
    • Concerns
  • Wind Power 25:12
    • In Use with the Ancient Chinese and Persians
    • 18 km/hr Winds on Average
    • Today's Cheapest Alternative Energy
    • Pros and Cons
  • Biofuels 32:13
    • Energy Recovered from Biomass
    • Oldest Fuel Used by Humans
    • Pros and Cons
  • Geothermal Energy 37:13
    • Deep-Earth
    • Shallow-Earth
  • Geothermal's Future and the Environment 39:39
    • Geyers Geothermal Field
    • Deep-Earth and Shallow-Earth in the Future
    • Environmental Concerns