Which Are Renewable Energy Sources

Which Are Renewable Energy Sources – Go to section What is renewable energy? Types of Renewable Energy Other Alternative Energy Sources Renewable Energy at Home Wind Turbine and Large Solar Panels in Palm Springs, California Vanja Terzic/iStock Renewable energy is booming as innovation lowers costs and begins to fulfill the promise of a clean energy future. America’s solar and wind industries are breaking records and integrating into the national grid without compromising reliability. This means that renewables are increasingly replacing “dirty” fossil fuels in electricity, offering the benefits of lower carbon emissions and other types of pollution. But not all energy sources marketed as “renewable” are good for the environment. Biomass and big hydro make for complex tradeoffs when considering impacts on wildlife, climate change, and other issues. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of renewable energy sources—and how you can use this new technology in your home. What is renewable energy? Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are continuously renewed. For example, sunlight and wind continue to shine and blow, although their availability depends on the time of day and the weather. Although renewable energy is often considered a new technology, harnessing natural energy has long been used for heating, transportation, lighting, and more. The wind moves boats to sail the sea and windmills to grind grain. The sun provides warmth during the day and helps light the fire well into the night. But over the last 500 years or so, people have increasingly turned to cheaper and dirtier energy sources, such as coal and fracking gas. Now that we have innovative and less expensive ways to capture and store wind and solar energy, renewables are becoming an increasingly important energy source, accounting for more than 12% of US energy production. Renewable energy developments are happening on both large and small scales, from giant offshore wind farms to rooftop solar panels that can sell electricity back to the grid. Even entire rural communities (in Alaska, Kansas, and Missouri) rely on renewable energy for heating and lighting. As the use of renewable energy sources continues to grow, the ultimate goal is to modernize America’s power grid, making it smarter, safer, and more integrated across the region. . Non-renewable energy sources are only available in limited quantities. When we pump gas at a station, we are using a finite resource of crude oil that has existed since prehistoric times. Non-renewable energy sources are also commonly found in certain parts of the world, with some countries having more than others. However, every country has access to the sun and the wind. Prioritizing renewable energy can also increase national security by reducing the country’s dependence on exports from fossil fuel-rich countries. Many sources of non-renewable energy can threaten the environment or human health. For example, drilling for oil may require open pit mining in the Canadian boreal forests; Technologies related to hydraulic fracturing can cause earthquakes and water pollution; And coal-fired power plants pollute the air. Finally, all these actions contribute to global warming. Types of Renewable Energy Sources Solar Energy Humans have used solar energy for thousands of years – to grow crops, heat food, and dry food. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “more energy from the sun reaches Earth in one hour than is consumed by everyone in the world in one year.” Today, we use sunlight in different ways – to heat homes and businesses, heat water and electrical appliances. Rooftop solar panels in East Austin, Texas Roschetzky/iStock Solar or photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of silicon or other material that converts direct sunlight into electricity. Distributed solar systems generate electricity locally for homes and businesses, either through roof panels or community projects that power the entire neighborhood. Solar farms can generate enough electricity for thousands of homes by using mirrors to focus sunlight onto acres of solar cells. Floating—or “floating”—solar power plants can efficiently utilize wastewater and water bodies that are not sensitive to the environment. Solar power provides nearly 3% of US electricity generation (some sources estimate it will reach nearly 4% by 2022). But 46 percent of all new generating capacity will come from solar power by 2021. If placed responsibly, most solar panels don’t have much of an impact on the environment other than the manufacturing process. Wind energy has come a long way from the outdated windmills. Today, turbines as tall as skyscrapers, with almost the same diameter as turbines, attract the world’s attention, wind energy spins turbine blades. , which feeds the electric generator and generates electricity. Wind, which accounts for 9.2 percent of US electricity generation, has become one of the cheapest energy sources in the country. The largest states with wind energy include California, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, although the turbines can be placed anywhere with high wind speeds, such as on hilltops and open plains, or even in the open ocean. Other Alternative Energy Sources Hydro Power Hydropower is the largest renewable source of electricity in the United States, although wind power is expected to soon take the lead. Hydropower relies on water—usually fast-moving water in a large river or fast-falling water from high places—and converting that water’s energy into electricity by turning the blades of a generator turbine. At the national and international level, large hydroelectric power plants or large dams are often considered a non-renewable energy source. Megadams divert and reduce natural flows, limiting access to the animals and people who depend on these rivers. Small hydropower plants (installed capacity below about 40 megawatts) that are managed carefully are less likely to cause much environmental damage as they divert only a small part of the flow. Biomass Energy Biomass is organic material derived from plants and animals and includes agricultural crops, wood and tree waste. When biomass is burned, chemical energy is released as heat and can generate electricity using a steam turbine. Biomass is often misunderstood as a clean, renewable fuel and a greener alternative to coal and other fossil fuels for power generation. However, recent scientific studies show that many types of biomass, especially from forests, produce higher carbon emissions than fossil fuels. There are also negative consequences for biodiversity. However, some forms of biomass energy can serve as low-carbon options under the right circumstances. For example, sawdust and shavings from sawmills, which decompose rapidly and release carbon, can be a low-carbon energy source. Geothermal Energy Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant near Grindavik, Iceland Daniel Snaer Ragnarsson/iStock If you’ve ever had a hot spring vacation, you’ve used geothermal energy. The Earth’s core is as hot as the Sun’s surface due to the slow decay of radioactive particles in the rocks at the center of the Earth. Drilling deep wells brings hot underground water to the surface as a hydrothermal power source, which is then pumped through turbines to generate electricity. Geothermal plants usually have low emissions if they pump the steam and water they use back into the reservoir. There are ways to build geothermal plants where there are no underground reservoirs, but there are concerns that they could increase the risk of earthquakes in areas already considered geological hotspots. The tidal and wave energy of the oceans is still in its infancy, but the oceans will always be dominated by the moon’s gravity, making harnessing its power an attractive option. Some approaches to tidal energy can harm wildlife, such as tidal barriers, which work like dams and are located in bays or ocean lagoons. Like tidal energy, wave energy depends on structures such as dikes, or devices installed on the seabed at or just below the water’s surface. Renewable energy sources at home Solar energy On a smaller scale, we can use sunlight to power an entire home – through photovoltaic panels or passive solar home construction. Passive solar homes are designed to let the sun in through south-facing windows and then trap heat with concrete, bricks, shingles, and other heat-retaining materials. Some solar homes generate more than enough electricity, allowing homeowners to sell excess electricity back to the grid. Batteries are also a cost-effective way to store excess solar energy for use at night. Scientists are hard at work on new developments that combine form and function, such as solar windows and roof tiles. Geothermal Heat Pump Geothermal technology is a new version of a familiar process – the coils on the back of your refrigerator are mini heat pumps that draw heat from the inside to keep food fresh and cool. At home, a geothermal heat pump or geoexchanger uses the earth’s constant temperature (a few meters below the surface) to cool the house in the summer and warm the house in the winter—and even heat the water. Geothermal systems can be expensive at first, but usually pay for themselves within 5-10 years. They

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