What is Renewable Energy?

03/04/2014

The use of Renewable Energy sources as a portion of the overall energy generated is of growing importance in each state with increasing requirements each year.

Each deregulated state has a Renewable Energy Policy that increases slightly each year to continue to drive power companies to generate more electricity from renewable energy sources. In 2013, Connecticut requires all retail electric suppliers to produce at least 17% of their power from these sources.

WIND POWER

The harnessing of wind power is a relatively inexpensive and clean option. Farmers in the United States have used small windmills for many years for irrigation and drinking, however, they have now discovered the best benefit of all, power generation.

For wind power to work you need wind and numerous wind mills to generate enough electricity to meet our needs. Wind farms are popping up across our country in plains, on hills and mountains as well as off-shore and will continue to become visually noticeable as wind becomes a much more widely used source of power.

SOLAR POWER

Solar Energy has many advantages and disadvantages as an alternative energy source. The advantages include no greenhouse gases, infinite amounts of free energy, decentralization of power and being able to have homes or even whole towns generate enough solar power to operate completely separate from the grid. It can even power vehicles. The fact is that solar energy is becoming increasingly popular and the demand for Solar Energy around the world is greater than the amount we can currently supply.

Now although advantages are enormous, there are a few disadvantages as well including the fact that there is no solar power to be used at night so it has to be stored or sourced from somewhere else during these hours. Next, it requires a large amount of solar panels and space to convert a meaningful amount of electricity. Currently around 22% of the solar energy collected can be converted to electric energy per solar panel. As innovations continue, this percentage will continue to grow. Lastly, cost is the main barrier to installing solar energy systems which will continue to drop as solar panel innovations improve.

GEOTHERMAL POWER

This type of power utilizes the natural heat inside the earth to generate energy. Geothermal energy can provide great benefit since there are such extreme seasonal temperatures throughout parts of the country yet, when accessing the heat from the earth, the temperature is constant and takes less energy to generate heat in the winter or cooler air in the summer. Although these systems typically cost more to install, the return on investment comes within the first five to ten years.

HYDROPOWER

There are 14 major hydro-electric producing dames throughout the U.S. and Canada producing significant amounts of energy. In Connecticut, with so many rivers or fast-moving streams, hydropower is a preferred alternative energy source. The water falls over propeller like blades that are connected to a turbine and then connect to a generator. These systems generate a great deal of hydropower for residents and businesses.

BIOMASS POWER

This type of energy is generated by burning wood, garbage and many types of waste to create steam, heat and electricity. This renewable energy source is gaining in popularity since it is less expensive than burning fossil fuels and allows for a reduction in waste collecting landfills.

There are other up and coming sources of renewable energy including:

Solar Thermal Electric,
Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Fuel Cells,
Municipal Solid Waste, CHP/Cogeneration, Low E Renewables, Anaerobic Digestion,
Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels