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5 surprising renewable energy sources

What are the new and quirky ways we can use energy?

Growing concerns about greenhouse gases and carbon emissions is helping us to shift from using fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. When you think of renewable energy, it’s usually solar, hydroelectric, or even nuclear power that comes to mind. But, Indonesian villagers from Java Island have had another idea: tofu.


Dancefloor with people dancing
Tofu energy?

An innovative process has helped bring energy to hundreds - the waste from tofu manufacturing is treated with bacteria that turns it into a biogas. The biogas burns cleanly – meaning it doesn’t add to air pollution – and could be a solution to our energy woes.

But tofu by-products aren’t the only unusual energy source - here are some of the weirdest yet possible methods of producing renewable power:

Dancefloors made from Piezoelectric materials generate electricity when club-goers pound the dancefloor, which cause mechanical stress. There are ‘sustainable night clubs’ in London, and the technology is also being considered for military uses, such as sonar.

Body heat
It’s not just great for keeping you warm while camping or waiting for a bus, but making use of body heat is now an idea that could work on an industrial scale. Swedish company, Jernhusen, has developed technology that uses body heat from thousands of passengers in Stockholm’s Central Station to provide heat to a building nearby.

Electric eels
Natural currents from electric eels have been used to power Christmas trees in Japan and Utah. They can generate enough electricity to kill a human, and while using actual eels as an energy source isn’t viable, scientists are working on mimicking the eel’s biological set up to power small electronic devices, such as medical implants.

Leftover food
The UK is one of the leaders for food wastage in the EU, but the search for greener energy sources might hold the answer. A process called anaerobic digestion breaks down organic materials, such as your leftover dinner, releasing biogas that might one day be used to generate power.

The slimy green stuff you find on pond surfaces is called algae and there are a number of different types. Scientists hope that some are able to produce oils, biomass or hydrogen, all of which could be used as a future fuel source. 


Looking to the future

While fossil fuels have been the main energy source for decades, we now need to find a sustainable power source that doesn’t harm our environment. And with a range of unusual and surprising energy sources, we may end up using our leftover Sunday roast, thriving nightlife and everybody on the tube network.

Read more about climate change, energy saving at home, and carbon emissions, or discover how boiler cover can help you in a central heating emergency.


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