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Eco-friendly energy sources

With oil prices on the rise, and the worries of greenhouse effect, finding alternative and eco-friendly energy become an urgent issue.

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships.

Hydro power, hydraulic power or water power is power that is derived from the force or energy of moving water.

Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power - mainly electricity.

Geothermal energy originates from the heat retained within the Earth since the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. Engineers have started drilling a hole 2,000 meters below Newcastle and discover a natural source of hot water - with a temperature of about 80C - below the surface of the city.

Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect.

Lightning is produced by the discharge of electricity between two clouds, or between the cloud and the earth, and accompanied by thunder.

Lightning appears in three separate forms: forked or zig-zag, sheet lightning. Forked lightning gives the appearance to the naked eye of a blinding streak of light; photographically it appears as a sinuous line, usually branched and often resembling a map of a large river and its tributaries. Sheet lightning is caused by a glow from lightning below the horizon or at a considerable distance away. Ball lightning, which is only rarely seen, appears as a luminous ball moving slowly in aire and breaking up explosively on contact with some object, wrecking anything in its path.

Lightning strikes have been the subject of scientific investigation dating back to the time of Benjamin Franklin, but they are still not fully understood. The research on lightning can help evaluate and test its affect on lightning-sensitivity of airplanes and critical infrastructure such as power lines.

A leader of a bolt of lightning can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. Over the whole surface of the earth there are at any given moment about 1,800 thunderstorms occurring while lightning fashes are appearing at the rate of 100 every second. And each flash of lightning realeases suffient electrical energy to light 150,000,000 light bulbs.

In 2006, Alternate Energy Holdings announced the successful development of a model prototype to demonstrate the 'capturing' capabilities of marketable lightning farm technology. By collecting power from the ground area surrounding a lightning strike and converting it into usable electricity to be sold through existing power grids. It is reported that the company has abandoned the project

European scientists, in 2008, deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm.

Possibly one day some means will be found of harnessing the mighty electric power in a thunderstorm and making good use of it.


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