The New Age of Energy is using natural resources to generate power. These resources include sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, water / tides, and biomass which are all naturally replenished. Using renewable energy as our source of power has the potential to solve global energy demands and the tomorrow’s environmental crisis. We are currently facing many challenges with energy production. With the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, and rising prices of electricity, individuals and governments are being forced to progressively change how energy is produced. Creating scalable, decentralized power from renewable energy sources is the progressive change our environment – and wallets – need.
The solar energy movement is arguably the most reliable and sustainable form of renewable energy. In a single day the amount of sunlight that hits the United States is more than 2,500 times the entire country’s daily energy usage. Even though the solar movement is on the rise (the industry has seen over a 465% increase in installations since 2013), solar photovoltaic panels produce less than two percent of the national electricity. A variety of technologies convert sunlight to usable energy for buildings. The most commonly used solar technologies for homes and businesses are solar water heating, passive solar design for space heating and cooling, and solar photovoltaics for electricity. Thanks to federal and state clean energy incentives, many home and business owners have converted to solar within the past decade.
Energy produced from wind is captured by wind turbines. The US has the largest fastest growing wind power industry in the world. Considering it’s growth and size, the wind industry is a critical component to the Department of Energy’s strategy to expand the renewable energy market, create new clean energy technologies, and diversify the economy through the energy market.
Producing energy from water comes from several natural processes including ocean energy and the process of evaporation of rain and snow. Producing energy from the ocean comes from the tides, ocean waves, and ocean temperatures. The ocean waves are driven by the sun, wind, and tides and can be used to produce energy. In addition to tides and ocean waves, the differentiating temperatures of the ocean (warmer temperatures at the surface from sun, lower temperatures at depth) can also generate energy.
When the water vapor is transformed into rain or snow, and flows into rivers and streams, this energy can be captured by hydroelectric power and transformed into electricity. Hydroelectric power presently supplies about 10 percent of the electrical generating capacity of the United States.
Biomass has been a main source of energy since the beginning – using wood to create fire to cook food and keep warn. Biomass energy is used for power production, and to create products that would otherwise be made from fossil fuels. Although creating biomass energy produces carbon dioxide and can technically contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, it is balanced by the carbon dioxide captured in its own growth. Biomass sources include wood (largest biomass resource still used today), wood based plants, manure, crops, algae, organic components of municipal and industrial wastes residues, and debris from forestry.
Geothermal heat comes from heat below the earth’s surface – ranging from magma miles below the earth’s surface, heat rock, or as pockets of steam or hot water (hot springs). In the US, the majority of geothermal reservoirs are located in the western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. Energy produced by geothermal heat is either produced by power plants or from geothermal heat wells that are drilled into underground heat reservoirs for the generation of electricity or direct-use applications. The geothermal power plants uses the heat to create steam or boiling water in order to turn turbines that generate electricity. Direct-use applications include heating homes or buildings, drying crops, growing plants in greenhouses, and other industrial processes such as pasteurizing milk or heating water at fish farms.
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