There are multiple benefits to using renewable energy sources. They don’t produce greenhouse gases, and they can’t cause harmful spills that can destroy animal and plant life. It’s also efficient and economical, requiring little maintenance and no cost for materials after installation.
Renewable energy comes from a variety of sources, including the sun, wind and water. Researchers are always on the lookout for more means of making green energy, but here are four types you should know about now.
- Solar energy
- The energy that comes from just one hour of sun is sufficient to provide energy for a year for the entire world.
- A battery is used to store solar energy for evenings and cloudy days.
- Solar panels on roofs work when the sun’s rays strike the cells in the panel and electrons are released from the cells, producing energy.
- Using solar energy will save the average homeowner a little over $100 per month on utility bills.
- When wind passes through the blades of a turbine that is connected to a generator, the energy produced by the spin is converted into electricity.
- One wind turbine can provide electricity for approximately 500 homes.
- Last year, 42% of the homes that were equipped with a source of renewable energy used wind.
- Unlike most other sources of energy, wind uses very little water; not only does wind energy not deplete fossil fuels, but it helps to conserve water as well.
- There is approximately 10 times the amount of wind needed in the U.S. to provide power for the entire country.
- Wind energy is currently the fastest-growing source of renewable energy; on average, two wind farms are installed each week in the U.S.
- Hydropower, or hydroelectricity, generates 20% of the energy produced worldwide. Canada uses water for 60% of its total energy produced per year.
- Hydroelectricity is produced when water pours through turbines with spinning blades. The turbines are connected to generators, which turn the energy that is produced from the blades into electricity.
- To produce the highest quantities of water, large amounts of water must fall from a great height through the turbine; the less water and height, the less energy is produced.
- Dams can be used to control the flow of water, or energy can be harvested from a free-flowing river.
- Biomass is organic plant and animal material that is converted into energy.
- Biomass can be burned, much like wood or coal, to produce heat, to cook with, and to power industry.
- This energy source can be heated until its parts separate into solid, liquid and gas. The gas can be converted into methane, which is used to power steam generators.
- Methane can also be produced by biomass by adding yeasts, enzymes and bacteria to the organic matter. The methane can be used for heating and fuel.
- Currently, 14% of the power generated in the world is from biomass.
The Bottom Line
Renewable energy sources are clean, efficient and cheap to operate. Once you have installed a source of green energy, there is minimal upkeep, and it costs nothing to “feed” the source. The savings on your utility and heating/cooling bills each month are significant when using green energy. Unlike fossil fuels, which are in limited supply, sunlight, wind, water and organic materials are abundant. These sources of energy don’t run out, and they are available in every country throughout the world.