While it is difficult to imagine life without electricity, often it is forgotten that there are other sources of energy besides just electrical. These alternatives to electrical energy have long existed before the advent of electricity and are still used today. Mechanical energy, radiation, heat, and motion are just an example of different alternatives and are prime examples of energy systems that have yet to reach their full potential as viable sources.
In an electrical society it is hard to declare an open succession from the use of electricity for favor of another energy source because more of what is used in the technological front is solely dependent on electricity. Although there is an existing desire to find something else, electricity is the logical stop because it is a common component of the natural world down to its most simplistic building blocks. All matter is composed of atoms that hold electrons in their orbital shells. The sheering off of these electrons is something that occurs naturally and on a constant basis whether in the form of simple static or atmospheric charge that results in lightning. As this world is very much an electrical one, it is pointless to diverge completely.
Yet this world exists in other ways along side natural electric existence. Whether it is in the form of heat and radiation from the sun, heat from the Earth’s core and fire, the motion of wind and water, or induced motion through mechanical systems, there are other variations of energy possibilities. Long ago before the use of electricity, these energies were used whether recognized as energy sources or not. Fire kept people warm; sunlight dried clothes, dried meats, and warmed water while water, wind, animals, and people supplied energy to move mechanical systems that did work at a better or more constant rate than what physical ability could supply alone.
Today, many of these older energy systems are used to operate generators that create electrical energy, but can be used in other ways that are independent of electrical systems. Solar technologies are being used to gather heat in more efficient and cost effective ways than past use. These focused heat energies are being used with solar ovens to replace fires and electric or gas ovens to cook food or boil water at no cost. Solar water heaters are being used to heat homes as an alternative to fossil fuels, fires, or electric systems. It is possible that new solar devices could be used as a force to move mechanical devices in the absence of other energies.
Long used for moving water, grinding grain, and other applications (like drying clothes), wind can be used in conjunction with mechanical devices to drive important factory applications. Also, by using natural ground heat moved by underground water pipes, wind powered pumps could help to keep homes at an unchanging ground temperature all year long, eliminating many costs that go towards heating and cooling. In the past these wind to mechanical energy devices were used to drain lands from flooding that were below sea level in Holland and other places. There are many beneficial options left unexplored as yet.
Even mechanical and hydraulic systems free from electrical control could be employed in certain machines and tools to amplify human strength and work ability. With higher complexity and efficiency, meshed systems can do a fair amount of work by simple actions on the commanding side. Not everything has to be activated with an electric signal, perhaps a use of natural magnetic properties instead.
With a great number of potentials and unexplored new technologies as well as new ambition, it isn’t difficult to image a world of alternatives that await, just beyond our electrical reach.