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Last updated at 10:52 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

News Words: Alternative

Wind turbines

Wind turbines are one source of alternative energy

The BBC's Clare Arthurs looks at some of the words and phrases often used in the news and their meanings in various contexts.

This week: alternative


Clare Arthurs on: alternative

Uses of 'alternative'


Adjective: not conventional or usual


  • alternative energy
  • alternative lifestyle
  • alternative medicine
an alternative

Noun: A choice or option when there are two or more possibilities.

You could fly, but the cheaper alternative is to take the train.

A challenge for you

Do you think we will ever develop truly cheap and efficient alternative energy sources? Are there any successful schemes in your country?

Send us your short 'news story' on this topic and don't forget to use the word 'alternative'.

We'll publish our favourites on this page.

This topic has now closed. Thanks for all your comments.

Takao, Brazil
The alternative energy for vehicles in the Brazil is the ethanol, it replaced one part (40%)of the navy of the gas cars. In additional, the government put the ethanol mixed also in the gas vehicles, in a average rate of 8%.

Patrick, China
With the rapid economic development, China overtakes America as the world's biggest CO2 emitter. The most of Chinese believe the emission of the traditional energy is the main reason accounting for the global warming, and to prevent the global warming is not only the interests of china, but also the interests of the all world. The most important step to cut the emission is to broaden percentage of alternative energy, and the government should allocate more money to the business of alternative energy.

Fadhel, UAE
Iraq is a rich in everything and there are other sources of alternative energy which compensate for the oil energy. Reliable access to energy other than oil, such as dates, in order to reduce emissions of toxic gases that cause environmental pollution.

Nazim, Algeria
I think we have to focus in this energy in Algeria there is sun all over the years we can use it at home for to heat watter, will reduce CO2 generated and will save money also but nothing is done.

Emanuela, Brazil
A successful alternative for car fuel was developed in Brazil many years ago. The ethanol, produced with sugar cane, reduces in 90% the quantity of CO2 generated by gasoline. This calculation includes the consequent CO2 during all production cicle: from the sugar cane cultivation to the ready to use etanol transportation. Nowadays, 90% of the cars fabricated in Brazil are equipped with "Flex" tecnology. The engines are created to run with gas, etanol or any mixture of both. Brazilian drivers can freely choose between the fuels. When you get to the gas station, the big advantage for the etanol is that, beyond being really more green, it is also better for the pockets: it's price is 20% cheaper.

Mariana, Argentina
Most of our daily activities revolve around different energy sources, such as driving to work, using the computer or watching tv. Some of those sources are currently running out while damaging what's left of the planet. Science seems to be trying to figure out how to stop this and studying alternative energy sources. But there is a small problem: economical interests. If we look back on the past ten years, we will find that most conflicts between countries arose from the constant fight to posses these last energy sources (oil and water are a clear example). In Argentina we have lots of lands filled with clear and unpolluted water which are sold to rich people leaving towns without their water supply. I want to believe that there will be a solution, that we will find and use other sources of energy. But, in the meantime, we are stuck in a world that cares not about tomorrow. Maybe, if those countries who are fighting over who controlls which oil sources started funding proyects on this matter we will come to a solution. And I sincerelly hope they do, for we will start building a better world for our children.

Lina, New Zealand
I Saw a programm on discovery channel about a fuel that has been made from the waste water and can be an alternative fuel to use instead of petrol in our car. I think the fuel was mentioned as an alternative fuel but I think if they produce efficient amount of it they can just use more common than petrol because it is really environment friedly as its been made from organic things and using it wont produce any greenhouse pollution.

Freddy, Colombia
Here in Colombia is not common the use of alternative power sources, there are only a few companies and institutions that are trying and testing small systems based on both, solar and wind power.One outstanding project is called "jepirachi" (this is wayuu language and means "North-west winds")and it`s developed by the colombian company EEPPM and the German Technical Agency(GTZ), this project has been working since 2005 with excellent results besides to be successful desalinating sea water in a rate of 6m3 per hour, becoming in a great help to the north part population, especially the natives.the idea is this project continue growing to support our until now, only power source : hydroelectrical.

Sharad, India
The development of truly cheap alternative energy sources is a target which is nothing less than a compulsion on scintists to achieve given the global warming has started showing its impact. To cut down the emmission level the dependency on coal has to be done away with. And to compensate for this removal of use of coal, alternative energy sources will have to be roped in. Scientists are already working on wind and solar energy sources. However,the initial investment in such technologies is very costly. But once on a large scale the investment is made,in the long run these will prove to be less expensive. Nuclear technology is also cheap but with again high initial investment. India has already entered into nuclear agreement. It is a welcome sign given the vast energy needs of the country and where the main energy source is coal. Also, private sector has shown interest in this area by investing into wind and semiconductor technology. There is pressure to save our environment and sustain the industrial growth at same time.Only two alternatives are there. Either succumb to the pressure or face it. So lets face it with the belief that we will develope very economical technologies in the near future.And as they say - Necessity is the mother of invention so our necessity will give birth to the solution.

Juan, Mexico
Alternative energy could help to cope with the effect of global warming that can be clearly evident in many parts of the world these days, and has become one of the key topics on the global Agenda for the international community. But this is just the beginning and there is still much to do. In the Recent Convention at Copenhaguen it was discussed some of the efforts made to prevent and decrease pollution caused by chemicals, Co2 and radiation as result of power generation. Traditional sources of energy are becoming more hazardous for health and more expensive to produce from an Economic point of view. Perhaps this is the turning point to change the current approach, and rely more on wind, tidal and solar energy as cost effective and alternative sources more compatible with the enviroment, before is too late to reverse the impact.

Rodrigo, Brazil
Hello there! Here in Brazil we are always trying to find an new alternative source to produce a kind energy. Despite of having a great part of sweet water of world to bild hydro-electric plant, we're producing energy from sugar-cane, its a cyclic alternative, but it's still not a solution for all. See you all any time in the World!

Clara, Colombia
In my country we have many resources to produce energy, at the moment we have as alternative energy from water, its a clean energy, we have many rivers, mountains where to take to produce energy and process to dont destroy the planet, its represents about the 55% of energy however in our farm and cities people use energy from coal, from oil.

Luz, Mexico.
I definitively think that all we could be beneficiated with alternative energies. In my country the IPN students has been developed a lot of kinds of alternative energies whith natural resources, like solar energy or eolic energie. Unfortunely, our goverments doesn't consider a fundamental issue to patrocinate this type of investigations. It's frustrating 'cause I'm sure that could be more safety and ideal to recover our planet.

Amila, Sri Lanka
we should find a alternative planet for live because our earth is already polluted by its living creatures

Adrian, Poland
Scientists are still working on new technologies, day by day there are many news about new invetnions, ideas, solutions to previously difficult problems. When we see it, it seems to be very probable that we will finally produce alternative energy cheaply and efficiently.However, there are more and more downsides of alternative energy discovered by scholars.In Poland we are still deeply dependent to traditional sources of energy, like coal, gas and oil. There is still no nuclear plants. In 2005 only about 4.8% of all the energy was produced from alternative sources, mainly from biogas. By the end of 2010 it should have been increased to 7.5%. In real, using solar collectors to warm water is becoming more popular as well as using wind turbines. I believe this situation will be kept.

Fabiana, Italy
Finding a way to produce and distribute alternative energy has become an important issue.In the past, environmentalists, campaigned alone to publicize the importance of finding a way to produce energy that have little or no impact to the environment. Nowadays politicians, head of states and individuals have put the topic at the top of their agenda.In Italy, with a referendum that took place in 1987, the Italian people voted against building nuclear stations on the territory.Twenty-two years later, the present government believes that the only way forward in producing clean energy is building nuclear stations...I hope the alternative can be found somewhere in the near future.


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