Four Powerful Renewable Energy Systems

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Four Powerful Renewable Energy Systems

While the majority of our energy is still produced using fossil fuels, renewable energy has become a profitable multi-billion dollar business with great potential for continued growth and opportunity. Here, we review four readily available forms of green power:

Wind

In some parts of the world, windmills have been used for centuries as a way to pump water, mill grains, and otherwise support daily life. The same is true in certain remote parts of the United States where open lands provided generations of families an opportunity to harness energy from the wind. The growth of modern wind turbines has been a fairly recent phenomenon in comparison.

Today, wind farms are changing the ways that communities think about the benefits of using alternative energy sources. Wind turbines are not without consternation, however, especially when we talk about offshore wind farms in the waters near popular beach destinations. There are also environmental concerns in terms of the negative impact to birds and bats that fly into the turbines.

Solar

Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth, generating more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. Man has used the sun since the beginning of time to dry meats and hides, to warm water, and to provide a passive heat source.

It has taken eons, but electric utility companies are now leveraging this natural phenomenon too. They are building large solar farms to generate green power as part of their energy portfolios, giving consumers options for spending their energy dollars.

According to the Department of Energy, demand for solar energy in the United States is greater than ever. Costs have come down to a point where installing a solar array is an increasingly viable choice for commercial and residential applications.

Hydropower

Much like wind, hydropower has been used as a clean energy resource for generations. It is an affordable resource as well. States that rely on hydropower for their electricity enjoy lower energy costs that other Americans. The nation’s hydro plants also have the capacity to ramp up for unexpected demand and play an important role in providing backup power when the grid is disrupted.

The challenge is that large hydropower installations are not sustainable in terms of the environmental impact that dams have on natural habitats and fish migration patterns. Today, a move toward hydrokinetic systems is making it possible to leverage clean water energy in harmony with the movements of rivers and ocean waves.

Geothermal

Geothermal energy, while dependent on proximity to “hot rock,” is another clean and renewable energy option. Researchers estimate that there is enough geothermal energy under the earth’s surface to cost-effectively power 100 million homes.

The newest technologies involve drilling tens of thousands of feet into the earth until temperatures of at least 350 degrees are reached. At this point, cold water is pumped into the rock causing it to fracture along natural fissures. The cold water becomes hot as it travels through the rock and is then slowly depressurized to create steam as it reaches the surface. This steam powers turbines, which generate electricity in the traditional fashion.

Sources

http://www.wbdg.org/resources/alternativeenergy.php http://www.energy.gov/articles/top-6-things-you-didnt-know-about-solar-energy http://www.energy.gov/articles/top-10-things-you-didnt-know-about-hydropower http://www.energy.gov/articles/enhanced-geothermal-nevada-extracting-heat-earth-generate-sustainable-power
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