Alternative and Renewable Energy Types? While the terms are often used interchangeably, and many forms of energy fit both classifications, there are some distinguishing factors between the two. “Alternative energy” is energy that is generated in a manner that does not deplete natural resources or harm the environment. Simply put, alternative energy is an “alternative” to the use of fossil fuels or nuclear power. “Renewable energy” refers to a specific type of energy that is collected from a renewable resource like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. They are “renewable” in the sense that they are constantly replenishing within a relatively short time frame without human intervention.
When we hear experts speak of alternative energy, they are most often talking about broad types such as hydropower, wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, and biofuels (like ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel). Likewise, when experts speak of renewable energy, they are normally encompassing hydroelectric power, wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy, and hydrogen or fuel cells. So while there is substantial overlap in defining “alternative energy” and “renewable energy”, both are parts of the new “bioeconomy”. As energy is rapidly moving away from traditional sources and demand for renewables becomes greater, energy companies continue to become more familiar and express greater interest in these types of energy.
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