Renewable energy is energy that can be regenerated. It includes hydropower, biomass, geothermal energy, wind energy, and solar energy. Renewable energy sources may supply energy for everyday uses such as heating buildings in the winter and cooling them in the summer, as well as fueling the car you drive. In history, renewable energy sources were mainly used previous to the 1900s: wood for heating homes, water mills for grinding grain, and wind for marine transportation. By the end of the twentieth century, however, nearly 90 percent of commercial energy supply came from the burning of fossil fuels.
Hydropower, the largest source of renewable energy, provides 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), approximately 73 percent of all renewable energy comes from hydropower, or the power of water. Flowing water, which comes mainly from rivers and is released through turbines, is able to be converted into usable energy. It is generated by forcing the water through piping called a penstock. It then turns a generator to produce electricity.
As the second largest source of renewable energy, statistics from the International Energy Agency show that eleven percent of the world’s energy is derived from biomass, or organic matter. One way of creating biomass energy is through gasification, or converting matter into gas and burning it in a gas turbine. Biomass fuel can be anything from wood and agricultural products to landfill trash. Dairy farms in Texas are even using cow manure to generate energy.
Geothermal energy is produced by naturally occurring steam and hot water that come from under the Earth’s surface. The steam is used to rotate a turbine, which powers an electric generator. Hot water energy may even be used to heat homes and businesses.
Wind energy generates merely .1 percent of our electricity using wind turbines. You have probably seen small wind turbines being used to generate energy for homes, farms, and ranches. The size of the turbine is determined by how much energy is needed. Wind power is quite simple: energy is fed through a generator and converted into electrical energy, then fed into the grid to be transmitted to a power station. Photovoltaic (PV) Cells
You may have seen solar panels used to produce natural, renewable energy. Solar energy is produced when photovoltaic (PV) cells produce energy using sunlight. Materials in PV cells absorb sunlight, which allows them to generate electricity by freeing the electrons from their atoms. PV cells are a very reliable, renewable energy source, they require little maintenance, and they do not produce pollutants. There is a strong support by people around the world for renewable energy; its sources are only limited by human ingenuity. The use of renewable energy helps lessen the negative impacts on the environment than those of fossil fuels and nuclear power. But no matter where energy comes from whether it is powered by water, gas, or sunlight using it efficiently is the most economical way to conserve energy. Start your alternative power degree today.