The world has recognised for quite some time that renewable energy is a requirement for our future. Many of our standard sources of energy, such as coal, will not be around forever. In addition, many of those traditional energy sources are harmful to the environment.
Renewable energy sources refers to those energy sources that are easily and quickly replenished. Relying on renewable energy for our power ensures that we can meet the world’s energy requirements today and for future generations as well.
The Most Common Renewable Energy Sources
The most common forms of renewable energy include solar power, wind power, water power and geothermal power. These sources have all been explored for their use in generating power; some with more success than others.
While renewable energy sources appear, at first glance, to be inexpensive, a large part of the reason they have failed to become commonplace is that they can be quite expensive and labor intensive to install.
Most hydropower systems require building a dam, or a canal, for channeling the water required to turn the turbine that generates the electricity. These dams are extremely expensive, and can have their own negative environmental impact, in some cases. In addition, hydropower is inherently limited to areas with lakes and rivers.
Solar power, which harvests energy from the sun to generate power, is another very promising renewable energy source that is beginning to take hold in many places of the world. Today, solar energy is used for only about 1% of the world’s electricity generation. But, as the cost of solar panels and other system components decreases, the demand for solar energy systems is sure to increase.
In fact, the International Energy Agency recently announced that they expect that approximately 60% of the world’s electricity will come from solar power by 2060.
Wind energy is another viable renewable energy source. Windmills have long been a source of energy production, mostly in the form of small windmills.
Today’s wind power is generated by large wind turbines mounted on tall towers, where the wind is faster and less turbulent than wind on the ground. Wind energy also holds a great deal of promise throughout the world, though it does not appear to hold promise of generating all, or nearly all, of the world’s electricity needs.
Geothermal energy uses natural sources of heat inside the earth to produce power. Most geothermal power today is generated by steam from under the earth. The heat, or steam, is used to power the turbines that create electricity. Geothermal energy is very clean, but, today, it is not widely used for energy production. It is, however, it’s one of the very viable renewable energy sources that will continue to gain popularity.