What Is Renewable Energy
The cost of using fossil fuels to generate energy on our environment has become obvious, global warming and pollution are threatening the future of our planet. Unlimited, affordable, pollution free renewable energy is what is needed to help save the Earth for future generations.
Alternative renewable energy sources all have lower carbon emissions, compared to conventional energy sources. Alternative renewable energy sources include Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Geothermal Energy, Hydroelectric Energy and Biomass Energy. The use of clean alternative energy production such as home solar power systems will help refresh the environment into the 21st century and beyond.
Fortunately, for the world, renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly more feasible and economical. We, meaning the global society, can defeat the negative effects of climate change and become less dependent on coal, oil and other fuels to meet our power generation needs.
Geothermal energy is energy produced by using the heat of the earth to create power. By harnessing hot water or steam from deep within the earth we can heat homes and/or create electricity using turbines driven by steam. Geothermal energy production is limited by geography not all areas have a geothermal source close enough to the surface to be effectively utilized.
Hydropower is electrical energy created by the power of water rushing through a turbine to create electricity. Hydropower is currently the most utilized source of renewable energy in the United States, accounting for 6% of all electrical energy produced and 48% of all production from renewable sources. Obviously for hydropower to be used effectively there must be a large reliable water source and a huge infrastructure commitment. Hydro power requires the construction of dams and transmission lines, often from remote areas, as well as long term maintenance.
Biomass is organic material that is burned or converted to gasses that are burned to heat homes and create electricity. The fuels that are biomass include wood wastes, agricultural sources and landfills (garbage). While biomass is a readily available renewable fuel it does produce CO2 when burned because it is carbon, however, it is considered “neutral” carbon because it has not been extracted from the earth like a fossil fuel.
Wind energy is a top contender for the title of clean renewable energy. Wind turbines use the power of the wind to turn blades that in turn run electrical generation turbines. Generating power from the wind does not cause any greenhouse gas emissions or other pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels.
Electrical generation from wind power represents about 4% of the total electrical generation in the United States and has grown from 6 billion kwh to about 182 kwh since the year 2000.
Solar power is the “hands down” winner of the renewable energy portfolio. Enough energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour to power the entire planet for a year. The sun comes up every day and its energy is completely free of cost and pollution. A 1.5 kilowatt photovoltaic solar system will keep more than 110,000 pounds of CO2, the main greenhouse gas that is the one of the causes of global warming, out of our environment for the next 25 years. The same size PV solar system will also offset the burning of 60,000 pounds of coal to produce the same amount of electricity.
Solar powered energy production includes photovoltaics and solar thermal concentration. Large commercial electricity production typically uses solar thermal concentration to create steam and drive a turbine to produce electricity. The real “magic” with solar however takes place in smaller systems like you would install on your own home, these are the photovoltaic systems. Photovoltaic panels convert the suns energy into electricity utilizing silicon wafers, like in your computer, to create DC current.
Photovoltaic solar power has been increasing in efficiency and dropping in cost dramatically in the last ten years. A homeowner can actually install a system on their home and easily produce more than enough energy to power their home, then, sell the excess back to the power company.
From an environmental and cost perspective, solar power is the best thing going.