4 Renewable Energy Sources Consumers Should Be Aware Of

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In the past decade, renewable energy options have become more widespread, thanks to affordability and a growing concern to set up sustainable practices in all facets of life. Nonrenewable fossil fuels make up more than 85 percent of the energy used around the world, but researchers and scientists across the globe are looking for alternative energy sources as easily extractable fossil fuels are projected to be largely used up within the 21st century.

Researchers have worked to introduce new sources of renewable energy to help handle energy demand, working to find solutions for pollution problems and other sustainability issues. If individuals and companies committed to adopting energy saving practices, the world’s energy use could be reduced significantly. Making the switch to clean, renewable energy sources could benefit your local community and the world as a whole. Consider the following renewable energy sources and consider the ways you might implement these into your life.

  1. Wind Power

Wind power takes strong breezes and turns them into instant energy. Wind turbines are used to generate electricity, and wind power serves as one of the most sustainable ways to create energy without emitting toxic chemicals and pollutants to the environment. You’ve likely seen the vast turbines that litter fields in agricultural and open space locations, but these days, even modern homeowners are getting in on the wind power action. There are now wind turbines created specifically for residential use, financed through PACE programs like the HERO Program from Renovate America. However, installing one of these turbines has some requirements. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home turbine is generally only worth the investment if you live on an acre or more. Rural homeowners are less likely to run into zoning issues, and more likely to benefit from higher average wind speeds. While wind turbines can present a high upfront cost, the return on your investment could be lucrative. You can also find financing options to help handle the expenses; options like the HERO Program from Renovate America help homeowners finance home improvement projects.

  1. Geothermal Energy

Geothermal power plants are different in that they don’t burn fuel, helping to significantly reduce the amount of pollution emissions. Geothermal energy is sourced straight from the earth, and can be used in a variety of ways. Countries across the globe have begun to utilize this energy, and helps reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. As of 2013, over 11,700 megawatts (MW) of large, utility-scale geothermal capacity was in operation across the world, and another 11,700 MW could be found in planned capacity additions on the way.

  1. Solar Energy

One of the most recognized renewable energy resources, solar energy continues to grow in popularity, and will serve as a source of energy for billions of years to come. With recent advancements in technology, solar energy has become more affordable, a far cry from the extensive costs solar energy sources presented back at the turn of 21st century. The solar industry is booming and is now significantly larger than the oil construction industry.

Families across the country are able to install solar panels on their roofs and solar arrays have become a staple of many commercial buildings. The latter has encountered its own fair share of challenges; solar arrays require a great deal of space and aren’t always ecologically friendly. Some companies have considered the possibility of renting out the roofs of other buildings on which to install solar panels and generate renewable energy they could utilize.

  1. Hydroelectric Power

Water has been used to produce power for thousands of years, and in today’s world, countries across the globe are making great use of this power source. Hydropower is the most widely used renewable energy source, and represents around 16 percent of total electricity production in the world. Hydroelectric power is created using underwater turbines that are powered by large amounts of flowing water. Massive power generators are installed within dams, where water flows through the dams spin turbine blades. These blades are connected to generators, and after the power is produced, it’s sent to its final destination, whether that be a home or business. While it has been adopted by a larger number of organizations across the world, it comes with its fair share of concerns, including wildlife alteration and disturbance.

The community of researchers and scientists working towards a more sustainable future are apt to find further evidence of alternative energy sources in the years ahead, but understanding the options available to you now is essential. Determine if your home or business could benefit from one of these alternative energy sources and make a difference in your costs and the environment.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, always revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance producer for USA Today, and a contributor at Technorati. She lives in Utah with her 2 kids and husband. Melissa Thompson can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter @melthompson88. Please follow and friend her on either site.