Think cars, planes, and even your own house’s lights. All of these things are powered by energy! There are many different types of energy. However, some of the most common sources of energy are actually very bad for the environment.
Getting the fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them to release their energy allows huge quantities of CO2 and methane - known as greenhouse gases - to be trapped in our atmosphere, harming every living thing and causing global warming. There are limited amounts of these fossil fuel resources. So, once the fossil fuel sources run out, they are gone for good.
That’s where renewable energy comes in.
Renewable energy, by definition, is energy derived from natural sources that replenish at a faster rate then they are consumed. Most of these renewable energies also happen to be clean, which means they don’t release any greenhouse gasses like CO2 and are better for our environment and our planet.
Do you wonder why renewable energy sources are better for our environment and our planet? I did, too.
First, we're all connected to the electric grid (like a nationwide computer) that provides electricity for everything we need on a daily basis. The more people there are on this planet, the more people there are who are using the grid all day long, every day. That puts a strain on how much electricity the grid can provide at one time, which can result in blackouts. When there's a blackout, we lose our electric power which means no power for our lights,; for cooking and using the microwave; no way to heat up the water for our water heater for baths and shower; no way for the air to provide cool air and no heat for the furnace; no electricity to charge our tech devices and run them.
When we use renewable energy sources, we reduce the amount of electricity we need to get from the grid, because we're getting electricity from the sun, wind, water, biomasses or the earth's core (geothermal). Using renewable energy sources also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from producing fossil fuels and burning them to produce our electric power. And someday, we will run out of fossil fuels, while the renewable energy sources are there for us to use and without emissions harmful to every living thing on earth.
So, what are these renewable energy sources?
Let’s find out.
Solar Energy, as you might guess, is energy harvested from the sun and transformed into thermal or electrical energy, either through solar panels or through mirrors used to concentrate solar radiation.
It is the cleanest and most available energy source in the world, because, you know, it comes from the sun. Solar energy is mainly used for heating, generating electricity, and providing light.
Wind power describes the process in which the kinetic energy of the wind is used to generate electricity, typically with wind turbines.* Wind turbines can come in many different sizes, from the stereotypical large wind farms to small, personalized wind turbines used to power a single house.
Wind turbines can be used in pretty much any wind, be it a light breeze or a stronger gust. They can be used to power single homes or businesses or can be used in conjunction with other turbines to create wind farm, which is like a sort of power plant.
*Wind turbines are not Windmills. Windmills convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy, while Wind turbines generate electrical energy.
Hydropower is one of the largest sources of renewable energy, which uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity. Hydropower facilities can be large, like the Hoover Dam, or tiny, some even being placed in irrigation ditches.
Hydropower accounts for over thirty percent of the total U.S renewable electricity generation. In fact, most of the U.S states use hydropower for electricity. It is also very affordable as it only relies on the energy from moving water.
Biomass energy is generated when living or once-living organisms (such as plants and waste) are burned to create heat, or to be converted into electricity. They can also be processed into Biofuels, which are like clean versions of fossil fuels.
In a household setting, Biomass energy is most often encountered in wood-burning stoves and other wood-burning devices.
Geothermal energy is a type of energy taken from the heat generated by the Earth’s core. This energy is stored in rocks and fluids in the center of the Earth. It is used for cooking and heating systems, and the hot steam and water found in the underground reservoirs can be used for electricity generation.
Geothermal water has been used to melt snow on roadways, heat districts and homes, and help grow plants