Most people are familiar with the term “alternative energy”, but those who assume that it is a modern invention are mistaken, since this power source has been around for centuries. Understanding the history of renewable energy can help people get a basic view of just how much people used to rely on this form of power and how likely it is that the world can turn to this energy source solely in the future.
Every time a new energy resource comes to light, it is actually an “alternative” to a previous one. The experts at Benefits of Recycling put it this way;
For example, in the Middle Ages coal became an alternative to wood, which people commonly used earlier to heat their houses and cook food.
In the modern era, however, people refer to these alternative energy sources as those that are considered an alternative to coal or natural gas, since these resources are depleting at an ever increasing rate. Back in the 19th century, whale oil was being used to light lamps in Europe, but this changed over to petroleum; a very positive change indeed since the need for whale oil was leading to the destruction of these mammals.
While resources such as petroleum were thought to be better, more efficient sources of energy a hundred or so years ago, people are now worried about the damage that the search for new reserves are having a very negative impact on the earth, not to mention the processes of actually turning the reserves into electricity.
Dependence on Oil and Gas
The world has become very dependent on fuels such as natural gas and oil; even the world’s economy relies on these resources. This hasn’t always been the case, however, since there was a time when natural sources were widely utilized. Around 200BC, Europeans had learned to harness the power of water and so hydro mills could be seen throughout various areas of the continent. The contributors of AlternativeEnergy.org state that;
By the end of the Roman era, waterwheels powered mills to crush grain, full cloth, tan leather, smelt and shape iron, saw wood, and carry out a variety of other early industrial processes.
The popularity of the waterwheel skyrocketed about two hundred years before Christ was born, and this had a major impact on productivity within Europe. Not only did the waterwheel improve industries such as agriculture, but it also had a major impact on the economy.
Watermills Increase Food Production in Persia
By about the 10th century AD, watermills were being widely used in Persia to pump water and to grind grain. The first mills were very primitive in nature; they consisted of vertical mills that were carousel-like in appearance and made use of the wind to be able to grind corn and to pull water from streams so that they could be used to water gardens. Over time, these mills quickly became popular in various parts of the world, including in China and India.
The Discovery of Fossil Fuels
Anthony Le Coent, Antelio’s Managing Director says that;
Renewable energy is the oldest kind of energy in History.
While this source was widely used up until the 19th century, soon it was replaced by fossil fuels, such as petrol and coal. Experts call this period the “petrol era” and while it contributed to a great boom in industry, agriculture and the economy in general, it was also the starting point of a lot of environmental damage.
At this point in time, the race is on to discover new and improved energy resources and replace the outdated and harmful resources of the past. It remains to be soon what the future holds for renewable energy, although it seems that this future is fairly bright.