The term “alternative” presupposes a set of undesirable energy technologies against which “alternative energies” are contrasted. As such, the list of energy technologies excluded is an indicator of what problems that the alternative technologies are intended to address. Controversies regarding dominant sources of energy and their alternatives have a long history. The nature of what was regarded alternative energy sources has changed considerably over time, and today, because of the variety of energy choices and differing goals of their advocates, defining some energy types as “alternative” is highly controversial.
In a general sense in contemporary society, alternative energy is that which is produced without the undesirable consequences of the burning of fossil fuels, such as high carbon dioxide emissions, which is considered to be the major contributing factor of global warming according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sometimes, this less comprehensive meaning of “alternative energy” excludes nuclear energy (e.g. as defined in the Michigan Next Energy Authority Act of 2002).
|Oxford Dictionary||energy fuelled in ways that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment.|
|Princeton WordNet||energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment.|
|Responding to Climate Change 2007||energy derived from nontraditional sources (e.g., compressed natural gas, solar, hydroelectric, wind).|
|Natural Resources Defense Council||energy that is not popularly used and is usually environmentally sound, such as solar or wind energy (as opposed to fossil fuels).|
|Materials Management Services||Fuel sources that are other than those derived from fossil fuels. Typically used interchangeably for renewable energy. Examples A** include: wind, solar, biomass, wave and tidal energy.|
|Torridge District Council||Energy generated from alternatives to fossil fuel. Need not be renewable.[8|
- Editorial: Compromise is key to setting energy policy (knoxnews.com)
- “Green Building 101: Renewable & Sustainable Energy or Nuclear?” and related posts (greenbuildingelements.com)
- DailyDirt: Alternative Energy (techdirt.com)