Scientists have been telling us for a very long time that if humanity does not begin to get smarter about the way it uses energy, the planet’s environment itself could be ruined. Our reliance on fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline is obviously hurting us, but things are starting to change. Those finite resources which will one day run out are now being gradually scaled back in many parts of the world in favor of renewable resources. The term renewable resource refers to the fact that these are freely available and relatively unlimited resources that we have actually been using for longer than we might thing. The difference is, we now need much less to create usable electricity thanks to the far superior technology available to us today. Let’s take a look at each of the most popular types of renewable energy out there today.
5 Types of Renewable Energy
Solar Energy From the Sun’s Rays
This is the form of energy that most people will be familiar with. Solar energy is derived from the sun and typically collected using reflective solar panels. These can be installed in massive farms in desert environments or they can be installed on a person’s home to help them reduce what they have to pay the electric company. This is a common and popular type of power that is getting more popular as people discover how easy it is for the average consumer to start harnessing it wherever they happen to live.
Hydro Energy From Water’s Motion
Hydro based energy sources are sometimes referred to as hydropower or hydroelectricity. Generally speaking, this kind of renewable energy is harvested by governments or very large corporations by building a dam. There are also micro hydro solutions, too, which might take power from a running stream that is relatively small. If you think about it, you may realize that while this is not necessarily a very viable option for the average home, it is an option that has been around for a while. Mill wheels used to harvest this energy for milling, a very simple form of energy harvesting practiced for many, many years.
Wind Energy in Certain Locations
The wind produces a a great deal of available energy that can be harvested easily with the use of windmills. Windmills have been around for a very long time and could do simple tasks similar to the level that watermills could. Today, however, the average windmill can do much, much more in terms of generating a decent amount of energy and when windmills are “farmed” in large numbers they are quite good at generating power. However, there are still consumer grade windmills that people can use to harvest wind power if they live in a wind rich environment. This market is one of the fastest of the renewable energy types out there today and it is quickly becoming a primary source of electricity in the world because it is so easy to do and offers a good return on investment.
Bioenergy From Biofuels and Biomass
Biomass is a type of bioenergy that derives its energy production power from plants. Since plants are actually getting much of their energy from the sun itself through the process of photosynthesis, this is sometimes considered to be a type of solar energy. That would be something of an oversimplification, of course, but it is a way of looking at renewable energy that helps us understand it in a more holistic way. In order to harvest biomass energy, the plants must be burned after they are grown for this purpose. Depending upon where one lives, different plant types could be raised year after year to keep this a relatively viable way to produce usable energy.
Biofuels are a little bit different, but they still fall under the category of bioenergy. There are solid, liquid and gaseous forms of this type of renewable energy which can be directly employed as a source of fuel. Landfill gas harvested from today’s dumps is one example of a potential biofuel, another is alcohol made from a process of sugar fermentation that could work quite well in areas where sugar cane can be grown. As you might imagine, this type of renewable energy is useful because it can be stored and transported relatively easily compared to some other options that would need to be loaded into a battery first. Some people today even use recycled cooking oil or animal fat to create what is called biodiesel.
Geothermal Heat Straight From the Earth
Harvesting renewable energy directly from the ground we stand upon is becoming an increasingly more popular way to go about generating electricity. Heat is constantly rising from the core of the planet to its surface, where we make our homes, and when this heat can be harvested it can also be used to our advantage. In some locations it is used to keep sidewalks warm so that they do not need to be cleared of snow in the winter. It is interesting to note that although this type of energy is being pursued with hi tech technologies today, even our ancestors long ago harvested this kind of energy to do their bathing and relaxing in prehistoric hot springs.