An Introduction to Renewable Energy Sources

Social IssuesEnvironment

  • Author Rick Delancey
  • Published December 28, 2011
  • Word count 783

Renewable energy is all around us.

The sun, wind, rivers, lakes, oceans, plant growth, or even the heat deep within the earth is renewable energy. Modern technology has started to harness these endless sources of power by converting these into electricity, transport fuels, and the heating of our homes and water. They have the potential to completely replace conventional fuels. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the use of conventional fuels is the main cause of climate change. In spite of this justifying the cost of a new infrastructure is a source of heated debate. People are creatures of habit and will resist change even when it is in their best interests. Now is the time for action with the certainty that we are doing the right thing. Let any who would sow doubt be rebuked with the facts.

Using the power of moving water to generate electricity is renewable energy.

Hydroelectric dams are a form of renewable energy we are all familiar with. New technology is being developed to generate electricity from tidal and wave energy. This will create the potential of 12,380 miles of U.S coastline to selectively be put to use creating a new power supply. This is a reliable constant motion that can help solve our energy problems. It is renewable energy in pure form. The cycles of water here on planet earth were in motion long before man and will continue indefinitely.

The kinetic energy of air in motion or wind energy is also renewable energy in pure form. It has been used for thousands of years in the form of sailboats and windmills. Now in modern times it is being used to generate electricity. Wind energy is directly affected by the topography of the land. The tops of smooth, rounded hills, open plains, shorelines, or mountain gaps that funnel the wind are the best spots for wind farms. Offshore is also excellent due to better wind speeds. Wind energy alone has the potential to supply total world demand 30 times over.

Geothermal heat within the earth is a massive renewable energy source.

It is 24 hour power and not intermittent like some other forms of renewable energy. The majority of the continental U.S. has 100 degrees Celsius under it. The western part of the country has large areas of 200 degrees Celsius apparently due to it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Enhanced geothermal systems are a newer technology that could take advantage of this huge power source. Geothermal heat has the potential to supply total world demand 1.5 times over. As technology to extract it improves its potential will increase.

Radiant heat and light from the sun or solar energy is another massive renewable energy source. It is the source of energy that creates four other forms of renewable energy. Wind is caused by atmospheric convection which is fueled by the sun. Ocean waves are caused by the wind. Rivers are formed by precipitation caused by water evaporating due to heat from the sun. All the green and growing things depend on the energy from the sun and are the biomass we use as fuel. Solar energy has the potential to supply total world demand 4000 times over.

Solar energy is most well-known in the form of photovoltaic solar panels but this is only one form. There are two categories of solar technologies. Passive solar is designs that need no other energy. Solar architecture, green roofs, and solar chimneys are examples of passive solar. Active solar converts' solar energy into other forms of energy, normally heat and electricity. Photovoltaic and concentrated solar power are examples of active solar. The variety of ways to use this renewable energy source and its simple availability sets it apart from the other forms.

Soil, water, and all living things are renewable energy if managed conservatively. All living things and the waste they produce collectively make up Biomass. Biomass as fuels is from five sources wood, alcohol fuels, garbage, landfill gases, and waste. Biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol are produced from biomass. Using biomass as fuel does release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. In comparison to fossil fuels it releases less. Biomass as fuel also has the distinct advantage of being carbon that is in the modern cycle where fossil fuels are carbon from millions of years ago. Biochar which is made from biomass wastes is both a potential form of carbon sequestration and a good fertilizer.

Renewable energy is the way to go, regardless of which form of it is best for the region that you live in. Making the switch to renewable energy promotes living in balance and harmony with our environment. Creating and maintaining a new infrastructure will create jobs.

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