Every where you turn, there it is. Go Green. Save the Planet. Stop global warming. Lately, our environment seems to get more focus than the economy. All of a sudden, it’s like someone woke up and realized our natural resources aren’t going to last forever. It looks like the media has finally decided the health of the planet merits some attention and renewable energy may warrant a closer look.
Well, what exactly is renewable energy? How does it work and why is it good for us and the Planet? Let’s take a minute and dive into this electrifying topic and examine more closely these questions to see what we can learn.
Renewable energy refers to electricity derived from energy sources that can generate indefinitely without being depleted. It offers an alternative to energy created by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or natural gas, or by nuclear generation. Because traditional fossil fuels require millions of years to develop and they produce huge amounts of carbon dioxide when burned, they are not considered clean or renewable sources of energy.
The most commonly accepted examples include:
1. Wind – Naturally occurring wind currents are used to spin wind turbines to generate power. This is currently the most rapidly growing source of renewable energy. More resources and focus are being put into wind energy right now than any other form of renewable energy.
2. Solar – Energy collected from sunlight is used to generate electricity via photovoltaic arrays. Currently, solar energy is one of the most expensive forms of renewable energy, yet it offers much potential as the technology behind it continues to advance.
3. Hydro – Flowing water is used to spin turbines connected to generators. There are several types of hydro electric systems, such as dams and river current, as well as emerging technologies such as wave and tidal power.
4. Geothermal – Power generated by geysers fueled by the heat located deep within the earth’s core. Although not new, it is still being developed and is subject to geographic limitations.
5. Biomass – Energy created by burning wood, wood waste, animal or other organic waste and methane gas generated from landfills.
Recognizing the positive attributes of renewable energy governments from around the world have begun to take steps to promote its’ increased use. Within the U.S., there are now portfolio standards that require electricity providers to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable providers by a certain date. At the same time, voluntary demand for renewable energy is growing.
What does this all really mean? Simply stated, the more renewable energy we can start using the better off we’ll all be. Reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced when burning fossil fuels for electricity can not help but prolong the health of the ozone layer and other crucial eco-systems. Renewable energy equals good energy and a longer, healthier future to our planet.