Alternative sources of energy have both pros and cons, and these can vary from one source and method to the next. Some may be expensive, others use crops that are dietary staples, and still others may be unsustainable on a large scale basis so far. These are generally greener options which are renewable and that do not rely on fossil fuels that are limited and can not be renewed fairly quickly.
Micro hydro energy can be produced from small amounts of moving water. Creeks, channels, and rivers are used to turn a turbine that is installed, and this equipment generates electricity. Larger hydro options can use dams and larger reservoirs, and this source is used for a little under 8% of the population in the United States. Large scale operations are limited because of the size and the land requirements though, but small micro version can supply enough power for a home with modest requirements or a farm that is not enormous.
Wind turbines have become more efficient and are more widespread, but some communities have chosen not to approve wind farms because of concerns for birds and other environmental impacts until more studies have been performed. In location that are windy most of the year the energy generated can be very substantial though, and there are no harmful emissions produced in the process. One possible benefit is that this equipment can be placed far out to sea, although this may increase costs some.
Biomass options are numerous, and more are being discovered all of the time. Some of these choices have critics though, and these include corn and soy because they are used in most diets around the world. This adds competition for food and could eventually lead to hunger on a large scale in certain areas and regions. Other plant material that does not have this disadvantage includes cellulose, rapeseed, Jatropha, Camelina, and others that have no dietary vale for humans.
The sun can be a good alternative and renewable source of power and heat, and this technology has advanced a lot over the last decades. The panels sold today are much lighter and far less expensive then they were initially, and systems have become far more effective and efficient with fewer components. The drawback here is that direct sunlight is required before energy can be generated. Batteries can be purchased to store any unused power, so that it can be used later. These accessories can be expensive and may take up a lot of room though.