5 Successful Renewable Energy Sources

BY contributor | Fri Jul 26, 2013
5 Successful Renewable Energy Sources
Image via Flickr by Lance Cheung

The ability to harness the world’s natural energy is no longer just an environmental goal, but rather a necessity in continuing the way society functions. And, considering fossil fuels are getting closer and closer to extinction on a daily basis, the importance of renewable energy is at an all-time high. So, what are some of the most successful forms of renewable energy in use today?

1. Solar Energy

One of the most ever-present forms of renewable energy on the planet is the sun. And, harnessing the sun’s energy is possible because of photovoltaic technology. The photovoltaic cells found in solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity by way of a semiconductor.

Solar energy is widely used in homes and commercial buildings to provide electricity for lighting, heating, and just about anything else under the sun. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, the use of solar energy in the US has had growth rate of nearly 50% in the past 5 years.

2. Wind Energy

Every time the leaves rustle in the breeze, that’s unharnessed energy in the form of wind. As air heats, it’s constantly replaced with cooler masses of air, which is exactly what produces wind currents. And, in terms of harnessing the energy wind creates, that’s where wind turbines come into play.

Wind turbines are usually placed in areas across the world where extreme air transfer is most common, like deserts and open plains. Currently, the Center for Sustainable Systems states that wind energy makes up for 13% of all renewable energy consumption in the US alone.

3. Hydropower

Heavily flowing rivers are a powerful source of renewable energy in the form of hydropower. With hydropower, dams equipped with underwater turbines and generators capture the energy created by moving water.

This particular source of renewable energy doesn’t suffer from energy security concerns like the damage that occurs to solar panels and wind turbines during hurricanes and other natural disasters, which makes it a more reliable energy source.

4. Biomass Energy

Everything from wood to crop waste to grasses and other plants are all part of what’s called biomass. And, the energy found in biomass comes in many different forms, the most common of which is the burning of wood for the purposes of heating and generating electricity.

Another form of biomass energy growing in popularity is converting natural bi-products into bio-fuel. The energy from plants, sugars, and starches are thermally and chemically converted to produce energy, which makes up for 48% of all renewable energy in the US according to the CSS statistics.

5. Geothermal Energy

The earth’s core is essentially a continuously burning furnace that creates an extreme amount of heat. And, the heat the earth naturally produces is the basis for geothermal energy, a renewable energy source with untold possibilities.

Although geothermal energy is still in its infancy stage, the IEA believes it has the potential to produce almost 4% of the world’s energy by 2050. In fact, there are geothermal reservoirs already in use that power heat pumps by way of “geoexchange.”

From the sun to the wind, renewable energy is everywhere just waiting for the day it’s harnessed.

About the Author

Shaun Chatman is a well published author on many authority sites. He lives in Dunedin, FL, and spends his free time playing with his kids or advising friends on tech, gadgets, finance and travel.

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