Renewable energy is an important issue that should be addressed when caring about the earth and its future. What exactly is Renewable Energy? Why do we need it? How can you help?
What Exactly Is Renewable Energy?
Energy matters! Energy is a fundamental part of our world. Everything we do is connected to energy in some form or another. It powers our vehicles, warms our homes, lights our towns, runs our computers, charges our cell phones, runs our TVs and grows our plants. Energy is derived from resources with the ability to generate power or turn out work. Some of the energy we use is called renewable energy. Wikipedia defines renewable energy "as energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat which are renewable (naturally replenished). They are replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed.
Why Do We Need It?
Only 10-15% of the worlds energy comes from renewable sources. The remaining energy comes from non-renewable sources. Currently fossil fuels (oil, coal & natural gas) provide the majority of all energy used in the world. These sources are constantly depleted. Once they are burned they cannot be reused. They pollute our atmosphere and create dangerous changes to our climate and environment. They are a major source for smog, acid rain and can affect our immune systems.
Generally speaking, renewable energy is clean energy, its non-polluting and doesn't emit toxic waste or greenhouse gases. Clean energy produces little or no harmful effects on our environment. Renewable technologies can give America energy independence, a stronger economy, contribute to better air quality, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, curb global warming, add jobs to the economy and protect water quality and the habitat. Renewable energy technology is slowly moving out of the trial phases and becoming a reality in supporting our energy needs. More and more countries around the world are turning to renewable energy to end our dependence on fossil fuels.
What Are Renewable Energy Technologies?
Here are a few technologies in development today:
- Biomass - energy derived from biological sources such as wood, crop residues and fertilizers and is used to produce electricity, fuel transportation and manufacture products.
- Geothermal - energy from hot water deposits below the earths surface that is used to power generators, produce electricity and heat homes.
- Wind Power - energy from the wind or air currents captured by wind turbines and used to create electricity.
- Solar Energy - energy from the sun which is our most powerful source and used to heat, light and cool homes, generate electricity, heat water and for industrial processes.
- Hydropower - energy from moving water such as rivers or oceans used to create electricity.
- Hydrogen - is the most common element on earth and always found in combination with other elements. Once separated from other elements, it can be used to power vehicles, replace natural gas and generate electricity.
How Can You Help?
By being attentive to the energy sources you use for your daily needs, you can limit the amount of dangerous emissions that go into our atmosphere and help preserve the environment. California has a long history of support for renewable energy and has many renewable energy programs that offer rebates and incentives. These can be found at www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/renewable_links.html.