Renewable energy sources are all around us. It is in the wind that blows, the shining sun, the flowing water and even the grass that is growing. Without even knowing it, we interact with sources of renewable energy every day. We are going to dig in a little deeper and review some of the different types of renewable energy.
What is renewable energy?
Let’s start by reviewing what renewable energy is before diving into the different types of renewable energy.
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.
Renewable energy is often thought of as a new technology; however, channeling nature’s power has long been used for heating, transportation, lighting, and more. The sun has been used to provide warmth during the day and wind has powered boats for many years. There are many ways that renewable energy is used that most people don’t even realize.
In more recent times, innovative and less-expensive ways have been discovered to capture and retain wind and solar energy, making renewables an important power source. Renewable energy sources account for more than one-eighth of U.S. energy generation.
What are the different types of renewable energy?
Now that we have reviewed what renewable energy is, we are going to look further into some of the most familiar different types of renewable energy.
Wind power or wind energy describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind flows over the blades, of a windmill or wind turbine, creating lift, which causes the blades to turn. The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator, in turn, producing electricity.
For years, old-fashioned windmills were used for wind energy, but times have changed and so has the technology around wind energy. Today, wind turbines are the most common way that wind energy is collected. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power.
Wind, accounts for a little more than 6 percent of U.S. energy generation.
Solar energy is energy from the sun that is converted into heat and electrical energy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “More energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year.”
Solar energy can be collected and distributed in several different ways: photovoltaics, solar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar power. The most familiar way to harness solar energy is photovoltaics. Photovoltaics generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process and can be used to power anything from small electronics such as calculators to homes and large commercial businesses.
Today, there are more than 2.9 million individual solar installations in the U.S., and nearly 103 gigawatts (GW) of solar installed in the U.S., enough to power 18.6 million homes.
Other Renewable Energy Sources
As stated, there are several different types of renewable energy, with wind and solar energy, we have only scratched the surface. There is also hydro energy, which is currently one of the largest renewable energy sources in the United States, geothermal energy, and biomass energy.
Are you interested in the renewable energy sector?
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