As we have reviewed before, renewable energy sources are all around us. We have taken some deep dives into wind energy, solar energy, and hydroelectric energy, and now we are going to review some of the current top renewable energy sources.
Let’s have a refresher on what renewable energy is.
Renewable energy, also referred to as “clean energy”, is useful energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished, including carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. To put it simply, renewable energy comes from natural sources that renew themselves.
Now, it’s time to review the current top renewable energy sources.
New energy resources are constantly being developed, with new technologies and systems coming online every day. Let’s take a look at some of the current top renewable energy sources.
- Battery Energy Storage Systems: Batteries play a critical role in our daily lives; they power our phones, cars, laptops, etc. Whether you realize it or not, much of the energy stored in these batteries comes from solar and wind power. Battery storage, or battery energy storage systems (BESS), are devices that enable energy from renewables, like solar and wind, to be stored and then released when power is needed. Battery storage allows national energy grids to offer constant and continuous power.
- Hydrogen: This energy resource is newer to the renewable energy sources. Hydrogen is used in a fuel cell, and when consumed to generate power produces water. Hydrogen from renewables can be produced through various pathways, with the most established being, the use of renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser (IRENA). Hydrogen is versatile and portable, which makes it useful for locations with no access to other energy sources.
- Solar: Solar energy is energy from the sun that is converted into heat and electrical energy. Solar energy can be collected and distributed in several different ways: photovoltaics, solar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar power. Solar has the capacity to maintain a standard level of energy to feed into national electricity grids. According to Solar Energy Industries Association, solar has had an average annual growth rate of 50% in the last 10 years in the United States.
- Wind: Wind provides an important renewable energy source. Wind power or wind energy describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind provides a cost-effective method of producing energy. Wind, accounts for a little more than 6% of U.S. energy generation.
- Waste to Energy: Waste is all around us, so why not use it to produce energy? Waste to energy involves converting waste materials into usable electricity. A variety of technologies are available for realizing the potential of waste as an energy source, ranging from very simple systems for disposing of dry waste, to more complex technologies capable of dealing with large amounts of industrial waste. There are three main pathways for conversion of organic waste material to energy: thermochemical, biochemical, and physicochemical. Not only can waste to energy be useful to produce energy, it also helps to reduce the amount of waste that is around us.
Research continues to look for ways to create the best sources for renewable energy to aim for a more sustainable future. While we have reviewed some of the top renewable energy sources, the possibilities are endless.
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