Also known as green energy, it is energy that comes from various natural sources, including but not limited to the sun, wind, rain, geothermal heat and even tides. It is renewable, because the various sources are naturally and constantly replenished. A wide-scale switch to renewable energy is needed, as it is a source of energy that can sustain the needs of the world’s human population.
It replaces other non-sustainable fuels like coal, natural gas and oil and the green energy industry as a whole is experiencing rapid growth. Worldwide, renewable sources of energy are growing at rates of anywhere between 10 and 60 percent annually. Technological advances in the field coupled with rapidly rising costs for fossil fuels are combining to make green energy the go-to energy source of the next generation.
While fossil fuels take hundreds of thousands to milions of years to replenish, renewable fuels are free and plentiful. The wind, earth and sun provide large amounts of fuel, and the only cost is the creation of the infrastructure to harness this fuel source. As costs increase in leaps and bounds for other fuel sources, the price of renewable energy generally gets cheaper. There are “green” electricity providers now, and you can choose to switch from your local electricity provider with one of the electricity providers that use renewable energy, such as Green Mountain Energy.
As our understanding of renewable energy information grows, we will be able to further lower costs and will undoubtedly discover new and more efficient ways to harness the power of the Earth. In addition to technological advance, mass production of the parts and tools needed to produce renewable energy sources will further lower. The only way to continue forward is to eschew the use of fossil fuels for fuels that are both sustainable and more friendly to the environment.
Geothermal heat is the heat of the Earth itself, emanating from deep within the surface of the planet. Geothermal power plants can be built at volcanically active locations where the magma from within the Earth has pushed its way close to the surface. The power plants are expensive to build, but are cheap to operate once built.
Flash plants take hot water from within the Earth, and harness the energy created as the water evaporates into steam. The water begins to boil as it is drawn to the surface, and the resulting steam is run through a turbine. Dry steam plants pull steam straight out of cracks in the Earth’s surface and harness it to spin a generator. Binary plants take hot water and run it through heat exchangers, which heat up a fluid that reacts and spins turbines to generate power. After the water is used in all three of these methods, it is returned to the Earth.
Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy, and is one that most people are familiar with. For those who aren’t, it’s energy created from solar radiation. Solar technology can be classified as passive solar, where the sun’s power is indirectly harnessed, or active solar, in which solar energy is captured and transformed into energy.
The power of water can be harnessed time and time again to create energy. Even a slow flowing river or small sea swell can be harnessed to provide renewable energy. Hydroelectric energy is created by water flowing through dams, while other systems harness the power of ocean tides to create power. There are even systems that harness the power of rivers without the need to create dams that impede the movement of fish and wildlife.
Wind can be harnessed using windmills or wind turbines. As the speed of the wind increases, so does the amount of power produced. Wind farms are large areas that have been populated with these wind turbines. Popular areas include high altitude areas and places where the tides influence winds. Wind energy could potentially be harnessed to produce a large percentage of global energy needs. The only constraint is space, as vast expanses of land are needed to set up wind farms.