In a study published earlier this year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, 11 alternative energy sources were ranked not only on their potential to generate energy, but also on their impact on land, wildlife, human health, global warming, and energy security. The results? Wind power swept the competition, reducing carbon emissions and other air pollution by more than 99 percent compared to fossil fuels, while boasting a manageable land footprint.
Wind energy was followed, in order, by concentrated solar power, geothermal, tidal, solar photovoltaics, wave energy, hydroelectric, coal with carbon capture and storage, nuclear, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol. The research shows that some sources come with their share of negative effects: The production of biofuels, such as ethanol, would likely take up more land and cause more harm to wildlife and humans than current fossil fuels do. Check out the full study: Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security.