The world runs on energy. As humanity has become reliant on energy, the need for renewable energy sources has grown exponentially. More now than ever, the world needs to find ways to utilize renewable energy resources to repair and replenish our climate and ecosystems to create a brighter future for our planet.
In this article, we will discuss your options for the best renewable energy sources and which ones you can access to make a difference.
What Is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is created when we harness the power of natural resources and use them to our advantage. A renewable resource implies that the resource can replenish faster than you can consume it, therefore you can use it again without depleting the resource or causing catastrophic damage to the environment.
Non-Renewable Energy Sources
Most countries in the world rely on non-renewable resources for their energy. A source is considered non-renewable if its supply is limited to what we can find and extract from the earth.
Non-renewable energy resources include:
- Natural Gas
- Hydrocarbon gas liquids
These resources often are dangerous because they can result in disasters—like oil spills or mining incidents—when handled improperly, causing potential damage to the climate, human health, and global environment.
However, as the technology and availability of renewable energy sources advance, the need for non-renewable resources will diminish. In coming years, as more countries turn to renewable energy, the world could experience a positive change as energy needs turn to safer sources for solutions.
In a nuclear power system, uranium goes through fission, a process that splits atoms, producing heat. The heat converts water into steam, which turns a turbine generator and produces electricity.
Although the process of nuclear power production is very profitable and creates high amounts of energy, it’s not considered a renewable resource because it relies on uranium—which has to be extracted from the earth.
The waste produced from nuclear power plants is highly radioactive and dangerous to handle. This creates a serious problem when it comes time to dispose of used uranium, potentially causing serious risks for both people and the planet. This is another reason why it’s important to turn to sustainable energy sources that are more accessible and will protect the planet.
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6 Different Types of Renewable Energy
There are many different forms of renewable energy; as technology progresses, we may discover more. What is the best energy source? There’s no one answer, but instead, here are 6 of the best renewable energy resources available today.
1. Wind Energy
You have probably seen giant windmills, gently turning in the breeze as you drive across the country. Wind energy is becoming one of the most reliable and popular sources of renewable energy in the United States.
Wind turbines are specifically constructed in areas that experience higher than normal airflow. Wind pushes the arms of wind turbines and then the turbine converts the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power by spinning a generator. Wind turbines built on land or offshore in the sea can harness power on a daily basis.
Wind power does have its limitations, mainly due to the fact that wind is not always predictable or reliable. However, wind turbines do not take up much space, do not cause harmful emissions, and can provide large amounts of energy on a windy day.
2. Solar Energy
Solar energy has also been on the rise in recent decades. Solar farms can produce large amounts of solar energy while you can use smaller panels on your property. Solar systems have the capability to store energy for later times when the sun is not visible.
There are two main types of solar panels. Photovoltaic solar panels are made out of a positive and a negative layer of solar cells. Photovoltaic solar panels act as a battery and absorb the energy from the sun to convert it into power. This is the best renewable energy option for homeowners and small-scale businesses.
Concentrated Solar panels use mirrors that pull in the sun’s energy and heat up fluid to create steam. The steam turns a turbine and powers a generator. This form of solar power is usually only used in large-scale power plants.
One concern with large solar power production is that large-scale solar farms need to take up a lot of space in order to produce enough energy to provide power for a town or city. For smaller homes and businesses, solar panels are relatively easy to install and can sit on a roof without taking up needed space. They do not emit harmful gasses or any type of pollutants, which explains why they’re so popular.
3. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy uses the heat from the earth to create electricity. This process involves drilling deep into the earth and extracting water that has been heated by the earth’s core. The hot water and steam are used to power generators. Ideally, the water is then returned to the reservoir it came from once it has been used to generate electricity.
While geothermal power is a very sustainable way to produce energy, there are concerns that drilling in areas where there is already geothermal activity could trigger earthquakes. Another concern is that in areas with underground hot water, the ground often shifts, making the drilled pipes inoperable and requiring repairs. Using too much water could also deplete the amount of fresh water available in the country if irresponsible waste occurs.
While these concerns are valid, using the heated water already existing in the earth’s crust is far more reliable than other forms of renewable energy. Solar, wind, and tidal energy sources are not always predictable. The stability of geothermal energy makes it a valuable addition to our list of renewable energy sources.
4. Biomass Energy
Biomass energy is produced through the burning of organic matter like charcoal, wood, or animal waste. The heat creates steam which turns a turbine and creates electricity. Biomass energy is usually used in poorer populations around the world who do not have access to other renewable energy sources.
Though this is often considered sustainable, it does produce harmful greenhouse gasses, like methane, from burning manure, though the emission levels are far lower than those given off by burning fossil fuels.
Another concern is if people are dependent upon burning plants for electricity, it could lead to deforestation. If those who depend on burning biomass for energy do so responsibly, this resource has the potential to provide needed energy for millions around the world.
Hydropower harnesses the kinetic energy of moving water. A dam constructed in a river holds the water back and controls the flow and velocity of the water allowed to pass through. As the water pushes through the dam, it turns turbines to produce electricity.
Dam construction is often seen as a positive because dams provide a reliable water supply for human use. As dams create lakes, they also provide recreational opportunities like swimming, boating, and other water sports.
Though hydropower is a very effective and renewable source of energy, there are concerns that constructing dams can damage aquatic ecosystems and the wildlife populations living near that water source, so they must be built with these issues in mind to minimize any negative impact.
6. Tidal Energy
Tidal energy is exactly what it sounds like. Turbines constructed in seawater are turned twice daily by tidal currents that generate electricity. Because tides are usually predictable, this is considered a safe and reliable source of renewable energy.
This form of harnessing energy is not as popular as other sources of renewable energy. It could become more widely used by cities and countries with access to tidal flows who see the value of harnessing natural resources to provide energy for their citizens.
The Future of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy sources have the potential to help countries around the world become self-sustaining. Every country could have its own supply of energy without reliance on others for extracted materials.
The best renewable energy source for the future depends on the location and resources of every country. However, every part of the world has at least some access to sun, wind, and water which could provide most of their needed energy if harnessed in the correct way.
We still have a lot of work to do. In 2020, the world only used 29% of renewable energy sources as sources of electricity. However, with the increase in technology and awareness, this percentage should steadily grow in the coming years, ensuring a brighter future for the coming generations.
What Does This Mean for Your Home?
You can make a difference and contribute to the growth of renewable energy from the comfort of your own home. While you obviously can’t have a nuclear plant in your backyard, there are renewable energy options for home available for many people.
Here are some ways you can make a difference:
- Smaller-scale wind turbines constructed on your property can produce power.
- Solar panels installed on your roof or property can produce power. and store excess power in a battery system.
- Homes with access to or control of waterways can install hydropower systems.
- Geothermal heat pumps could use the heat of the earth to power your home if you live near an area with geothermal activity.
All of these renewable energy sources not only can help the environment but, depending on your energy provider, any excess power you create you can often sell back to your utility provider—earning you extra income.
Of course, all of these energy options depend on the location of your home and its access to these types of resources. If you find you have the resources available, make the decision to use alternative energy for homes and reduce your environmental footprint on the world.
Kiwi Energy Solutions
Kiwi Energy supports renewable energy sources and anyone who wants to make more sustainable energy decisions, as we utilize these renewable resources. For every new customer we receive, Kiwi Energy contributes to the Kiwi Energy Environmental Fund. This fund then goes to supporting individuals, organizations, and groups running environmentally-focused projects.
No matter where you live in the states of New York and Ohio, we will help you support the environment and save energy. We will consult with you and come up with a plan for your home and your energy use that will make your lifestyle as sustainable as possible.Contribute to renewable energy every day with Kiwi! Contact us today to learn more or to enroll.