A Brief Guide to Renewable Electricity

2014 brings with it a lot of words like “clean energy,” “renewable resources,” and the arguably over-used “sustainability.” But what does this lingo really mean, and what does it mean for you, the energy consumer?

What is green energy?

First of all, the idea of “green energy” is something that is applied to lots of things, but what it really refers to is the kind of energy that is obtained naturally. Water, wind, sunlight, or other living organisms that are converted into energy – these are all known as “green” or “clean” energy sources. They cause relatively less danger to the environment, and items that are used – wood, for example – can be renewed within a human time span.

The problem with these is that not only are they expensive to develop and implement on a large scale, but many countries are hesitant to embrace them as main sources of energy, for fear of economic loss, among many other things.

Hydropower

Comprising about 8% of U.S. electricity, hydropower is currently one of the most prominent renewable energy sources. It uses the gravitational force of falling or running water to spin a turbine, which moves copper coils between a magnet. Electricity forms from the friction, and is run through wires to surrounding homes and businesses.

Biofuels

Biofuel is anything that is living or was once living used to create energy. Examples of biofuels are the burning of wood, or turning corn into ethanol. The downside is that biofuel production still contributes to carbon-dioxide emissions, so it’s considered to be the least “clean” of the renewable resource options.

Wind

Denmark generates more than ¼ of their total electricity from wind, proving that it’s not impossible to use wind effectively. However, it currently only makes up about .5% of the world’s energy source. While the turbines can be costly to build, the overall cost is competitive with that of coal- or oil-burning methods, so it’s quickly becoming a popular energy source.

Solar

Despite the fact that you’ve probably heard the words over and over again, solar power comprises just .3% of the world’s electricity sources. However, according to LAGI, the land required to provide global energy with sunshine is relatively small, and there’s a lot of money and research being poured into this method.

Solar power generates electricity by harnessing the

It’s predicted that by 2060, more than a third of the world’s energy will come from the sun.

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