Types of Renewable Energy Sources
More and more people are coming around to the idea of renewable energy as a way to help sustain the health of our planet. Renewable energy is essentially energy that is obtained from the planet’s natural resources and is not limited or exhaustible. Some examples of this are wind power and solar energy. Renewable energy is less harmful to the environment and is generally considered cleaner since it does not create toxic waste as a byproduct.
Interesting developments are currently being achieved in regards to using natural energy sources instead of traditional fossil fuels. For example, the Cadiz Water Project is looking at ways to save water from evaporation so that it can be used as a renewable resource for the people of California. In addition to renewable groundwater, here are some other forms of renewable energy sources that are being incorporated into everyday lives.
Biomass energy – also known as bioenergy – is the energy that comes from using organic matter. For example, if you light a fire in your fireplace, you are using organic matter to produce energy. This is the most common example that people are familiar with.
There are other ways to generate energy through the use of biomass, however. This can be done by harnessing methane gas, which is a byproduct of naturally decaying organic materials in landfills or ponds.
Using biomass energy is generally considered to create a balanced atmosphere. This is because it will usually produce an amount of carbon dioxide that is equivalent to the amount that plants will consume. So the net output of carbon dioxide is zero.
The heat trapped beneath the earth’s crust can be tapped into and used for energy. This heat can be obtained and used to produce geothermal energy. This is achieved by using the steam that comes from the hot water below the surface to operate turbines, for example.
While geothermal energy isn’t as well known as other types of renewable energy sources, it has the potential to be of great use. Because it can be built underground, the carbon footprint left on land is relatively low. Additionally, geothermal energy is replenished via natural means and does not run the risk of depletion.
Solar power is perhaps the most well-known alternative energy source on this list. Sunlight is captured by solar cells that turn the energy into hot water, electricity, or heat. Solar power is also one of the easiest energy sources to tap into and sustain long-term.
Sunlight is endless and since we have the technology to harvest it, solar power has the potential to end the use of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the upfront costs can be significant and may be out of reach for many households. Even so, using solar energy instead of relying on fossil fuels helps us improve environmental and public health issues. Additionally, solar energy has the potential to reduce energy bills.
Wind farms are now popping up all over the globe, capturing the energy of wind and turning it into electricity. There are different scales of wind farms that currently operate. Everything from small wind farms used to power individual buildings to large commercial farms that power many different organizations.
Interestingly enough, wind power is a form of solar energy. The wind is created by the difference in temperature in the atmosphere coupled with the rotation of the planet and the layout of the land.
Wind energy does not produce harmful byproducts or carbon dioxide, which makes it preferable to other sources on this list. However, because these wind farms are often built in rural locations, transportation costs to get the energy to cities that need it the most lead to higher costs.
The ocean is responsible for two types of energy – mechanical energy and thermal energy. Ocean thermal energy uses the warm surface water to produce energy through different systems. Ocean mechanical energy – also known as wave energy – relies on the ebb and flow of the ocean tides to create energy for different things.
One benefit of wave energy is that it is extremely predictable. This allows for a very accurate estimate of the amount of energy that can be harnessed. Wave energy is much more consistent than sources like wind and solar energy. Additionally, this renewable energy source is also plentiful. The most populated cities tend to be located around bodies of water, making it easy to get the energy to the places that need it. Conversely, landlocked places won’t have access to the energy generated from the oceans.
While this list is in no way exhaustive, these are some wonderful alternatives to fossil fuels that can be used to power things we use and rely on every day. As a consumer, you have different options when it comes to supporting alternative, renewable energy sources. You can install solar panels in your home to help offset some of your electricity that comes from fossil fuels. There may also be local and state options to support clean energy sources where you live.