"Climate change is something that we can all actively work to resolve. Read here to learn more about renewable energy sources that can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, and help transform human society to a more sustainable future to thrive."
Climate change is a phenomenon that humans can no longer afford to ignore, or cry conspiracy theory and place their head in the sand. Thanks to the dire need for innovations in science, research, and technology, renewable energy sources are being developed to help change the course.
Renewable energy sources are an integral part of creating sustainable cities, absorbing carbon emissions, and reducing the rise of global temperatures.
For far too long, most human societies have been attached to traditional forms of energy that require the burning of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, rampant pollution with little to no enforced regulations has finally reached a point of no return.
Thankfully, there are sources of energy that are renewable and powered by natural materials available.
Pros And Cons Of Renewable Energy Versus Traditionally Accepted Energy
When many renewable energy sources were first introduced to the public, they were met with some hesitation and criticism for their cost and being unfamiliar.
However, as more companies become involved with the development and research for renewable energy solutions, the cost and ease of integration into current infrastructure is feasible.
Fossil fuels may be familiar, but the environmental cost is just too high to carry on forever.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the energy that is created using fossil fuels can produce 1.76 to 2.07 pounds of carbon dioxide for every one kilowatt-hour.
Sources of renewable energy that require harnessing the sun, wind, or water eventually beat out the finite resources of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. Although initial investments to transform power supplies to run on renewable energy may seem expensive, the longterm benefits for sustainability and a diminished carbon footprint outweigh the upfront costs.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable energy sources like wind and solar are projected to be the cheapest forms available by the year 2030.
Harnessing the winds to create energy is a clean source of fuel that doesn't create an output of noxious, harmful pollutants.
Wind farms have been created successfully, utilizing a series of wind turbines to generate energy. Most turbines stand at 100 feet or higher to catch turbulent winds. As the lift and drag of wind interact with the two or three rotating blades on a wind turbine, the rotating shaft creates electricity via a generator.
Similar to primitive windmills, wind turbines have been in use by humans to power communications or pump water. Both homeowners and farmers have benefited from wind turbines to create clean energy for personal use, but have profited from selling excess energy to power companies.
Regarding sustainable U.S. cities that have decided to power their area via wind energy, Rock Port, Missouri, and Greensburg, Kansas are shining success stories.
The residents of Rock Port, Missouri are privy to a significant output of energy using four wind turbines. The town of Rock Port is credited as being the first community in the United States to be fully powered by wind energy. Greensburg, Kansas uses geothermal and solar energy in addition to wind.
According to sources like Windustry, a turbine for a home or farm set-up costs between $3,000 to $8,000 for every kilowatt. Wind turbines for commercial use cost around $1.3 million to $2.2 million for every kilowatt.
Although the costs for wind turbines may give some sticker shock, the average price paid per each kilowatt-hour is two cents, according to Scientific American. A power purchase agreement for a wind farm costs less than half of what it costs to run a power plant fueled by natural gas.
Wind energy is not restricted solely to land, as offshore wind turbines can be erected using support structures that are fixed into the seafloor.
If a turbine cannot be successfully anchored into the seafloor to capture the strong winds over ocean waters, developers have created floating wind turbines. Scotland has a functional floating wind turbine farm located off of its coast.
Floating turbine systems offshore rely on a concrete or steel platform, which is anchored to the seafloor via cables or lines.
Typically, most wind turbines have a warranty for two to five years under the original equipment manufacturer. Maintenance is conducted on wind turbines on an annual basis to ensure the optimal operation and output.
Harnessing the power of the sun is a lot more efficient than relying on burning fossil fuels.
Depending on the number of solar panels erected and placed onto a roof, or set up in a solar farm, more than a sufficient amount of green energy can be produced and distributed. Although the production and manufacturer of solar panels and the components necessary for its function produce a fraction of emissions, the use of finished solar panels does not.
Using solar energy to produce energy is cheaper to use since its inception. The average cost per kilowatt is $3 for installation. Luckily, it is possible to lock-in the price for electricity prices after installing solar panels, so it pays for itself very quickly.
Solar panels are capable of being installed on aircraft, homes, cars, and as windows to capture the energy of the sun. Both civilian and military projects have increased their use of solar panels to reduce carbon emissions and create self-sustainability.
Power plants that utilize solar energy are capable of storing unused energy or may use batteries to capture solar energy still even when the sun is not shining.
Solar panels are useful for heating water, heating homes, and do so without creating harmful emissions like chlorofluorocarbons.
Geothermal energy is not 100% carbon neutral, but it creates little to no carbon dioxide emissions. Geothermal energy is used to create electricity, by harnessing the heat that is naturally generated below the surface of the planet. Typically, an area that has a higher level of activity with tectonic plates make ideal spaces to produce geothermal energy.
Japan, China, and the United States have all made use of geothermal energy to produce energy for industrial plants and other purposes.
When wells are drilled into a geothermal reservoir, the hot water and steam that comes up are harnessed to create power. This source of renewable energy is ideal because it doesn't use a lot of water or land. Compared to other green sources of energy like solar or wind farms, geothermal energy uses the least amount of land space to function.
Residents can use geothermal energy to both heat or cool their home, without the threat of releasing gasses that can contribute to climate change and warming temperatures.
One of the most overlooked forms of renewable energy has relied on harnessing the power of the ocean's waves and tides. Tidal energy is sustained by the pull of the Moon and the Sun, in tandem with the Earth's rotation.
The three methods that are employed to harness tidal power include the following.
Dynamic tidal power would require the use of a T-shaped dam to capture the oscillating waves which would run along the coasts. A tidal barrage would use a dam that is large enough to cover a river and would allow for tides to flow in alternating directions. A tidal stream generator calls for the use of an underwater turbine to extract the energy produced from moving water.
It has been estimated that the power of waves breaking onto the coast creates up to 2 to 3 million megawatts of energy. The use of wave energy is still in its developing stages, as much work needs to be done to bring the cost down. However, the potential for success as a renewable source of energy is present.
Harnessing wave energy to create power is desirable, as waves contain 1,000 times more kinetic energy than wind.
Other methods of harnessing wave energy include the use of a floating system that could capture the rise and fall of oceans to power a hydraulic pump. A column device that relies on oscillating water could help force air into a turbine to generate energy.
One more idea for capturing wave energy is the use of a tapered channel. This method would require a structure that is mounted off of the shoreline, which would drive water into a reservoir, creating energy as the water flows out of the structure.
Compared to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, the use of tidal energy is still new and undergoing innovation and changes. Much work still has to be done to lower the cost of implementing methods to harness the power of ocean waves reliably.
There have been some concerns about the risk to marine life, regarding the use of underwater turbines.
Clean Green Energy
The drive for humans to push the envelope of what is possible for renewable energy, creating methods that are both robust and reliable is gravely needed. Innovations in renewable energy to significantly reduce global carbon emissions have driven costs down, won over public trust and interest, and are proving to be viable.
The survival of the planet, humans, and life as we know it depends on positive changes to energy production that is ecologically sound, sustainable, and feasible.