Our List of Renewable Resources
The United States Department of Energy has a list of renewable resources that everyone can benefit from. The most common ones on the list are already in use in many parts of the country. Before they will be available everywhere, however, much needs to be done in the way of education. The general public knows very little about certain types of renewable resources. Many of misconceptions or are just wary of trying anything new. Learning about the various types can open a person’s eyes to how much money could be saved each year, just by tapping into the list of renewable resources.
Solar power has been in use for decades without many people even realizing it. A few of the items that have been operated using solar energy include:
- Street lights
- Commercial signage
- Solar panels for homes
Solar panels collect the sun’s energy and convert it into energy forms that can be used by our homes, appliances and vehicles. Although the cost of panels is still somewhat high, they do pay for themselves over time.
Wind turbines have been in use for several years. The creation of wind “farms” is allowing areas to test out this type of renewable resource. Wind can generate up to ten times more energy than other resources. For many communities, groups of concerned citizens are coming together to block the creation of wind farms in their area. Most do not like the sight of the tall towers that dot the landscape once a farm has been established. The main advantage of wind energy is that it is one of the cheapest forms of energy available with little to no impact on the environment.
Hydroelectricity is produced as water flows over large turbines. As the turbines move, they generate electricity that can be used by anyone that is connected to their system. Approximately 20 percent of the world’s energy comes from hydroelectricity. Large reservoirs have been man made in an attempt to help keep hydroelectric plants in operation. The main drawback from this type of renewable energy resource is that a lack of water will essentially shut down the system. When there is no water, there is nothing to move the turbines and no electricity is generated.
Biomass energy is produced using animal or plant sources. Ethanol is an excellent example of this type of renewable energy resource. Made from corn, ethanol is used much like gasoline and kerosene. It does have a slightly different composition, however, and must be used on its own. Many automobile manufacturers have turned to ethanol as a way of saving their industry. No longer are vehicles designed to rely solely on gasoline or diesel fuel. Now they hybrid vehicles are being manufactured that can use a combination of ethanol, electricity and solar power. This means many more miles to the gallon as well as a dramatic reduction in the amount of pollutants that are created every time you start your car or truck.
Geothermal energy as a renewable energy source is extremely efficient. It is created by moving water above and below the earth’s surface through a complex system of pipes. The water is heated with steam from below the earths’ surface and then moved through large plants that convert the heat to energy. Countries like Iceland and the Philippines create over one quarter of their energy using geothermal plants. The main drawback with this form of energy is the cost of building the system. Geothermal plants are extremely expensive and country’s have a difficult time recovering the money spent to build them. In the United States, California has over 40 geothermal plants in use to help cover the majority of the state’s energy consumption.
Finding alternative energy resources is nothing new. Wind, water and sunlight have been used since the beginning of time to create energy. It wasn’t until the last 100 years or so that people began to find ways to convert them into sustainable energy that could be used whenever wee needed it. Today, the hope for the future is that we will be able to produce the bulk of the energy we need through wind farms, biomass operations, sunlight and water.
About the Author
Kaitlin Gardner currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking , hand with her family and friend and enjoy nature.