If you've ever considered renewable energy, you may be wondering what the benefits are. Renewable energy is energy produced from natural resources that are renewable. These resources include sunlight, wind, water, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Most are sustainable. But what exactly is renewable energy? How can it be beneficial to you and the planet? Let's explore. And remember that all forms of renewable energy are free and abundant. Here are some examples:
In the U.S., renewable energy development is driven by businesses with sustainability goals. These businesses build renewable energy facilities and procure renewable electricity through power purchase agreements and renewable energy certificates. Since the 2010 Renewable Fuel Standard was established, costs have decreased considerably. In fact, utility-scale solar photovoltaics' cost fell by 82 percent. Onshore wind's cost dropped by 39 percent. The cost reductions are attributable to increased demand and economies of scale.
In 2020, renewable sources of electricity are expected to make up 29 percent of global electricity production, led by solar PV and wind power. This represents a ten percent increase in installed renewable power capacity worldwide. The International Energy Agency estimates that renewables will continue to be deployed at record levels in the coming years. However, the era of net zero climate goals requires better financial support and government policies to further promote the deployment of renewables. So, how do we get there?
In the short term, renewable energy may have some disadvantages. First, ethanol derived from corn competes with the food market and encourages agricultural practices that lead to toxins. In addition, it may also have adverse effects on local ecosystems. Fortunately, there are new technologies being developed to make biomass more efficient. While many people are skeptical, the future of renewable energy is bright. With the help of renewables, we can move faster towards a clean energy future.
A good way to understand renewable energy is to consider what sources are currently being used in our society. In the United States, solar and wind energy will account for nearly 20 percent of utility-scale electricity generation in 2020. This growth will be largely due to solar and wind energy. Hydropower, solar, and wind power will make up the remaining 16 percent. Renewable energy is also a viable option in the transportation sector. These sources could help us transition to a cleaner energy future, especially for transportation and manufacturing.
Wind turbines are unsightly and noisy. However, wind energy is a valuable resource. Wind energy is used in most wind power production in the U.S., but offshore wind projects are now gaining momentum. Offshore wind farms are located on the oceans and are the fastest growing renewable energy source. Currently, China, Germany, and the United States lead the world in wind energy production. Since 2001, cumulative wind capacity in these countries increased by 22 fold.
Biomass is another renewable resource. Biomass can be fermented to produce biofuels, hydrogen, and ethanol. Biomass is used to generate electricity in many countries, but the most commonly used biomass sources are forest by-products and agricultural waste. And biodiesel can be used as a fuel in diesel engines. But, biodiesel fuel is more efficient than biofuels because it is made from renewable sources.
Hydroelectric power is another renewable source. It converts water to electricity. Hydroelectric power uses the force of flowing water to turn turbine blades. In some countries, hydroelectric power is used extensively. In the United States, hydropower is the largest renewable energy source. Wind energy is rapidly closing the gap. That said, it is also the least expensive. Hydroelectric power is also widely used, though wind energy is catching up fast. And while hydroelectric power may be the most popular renewable energy source in the U.S., wind energy is fast catching up.
Another renewable energy source is solar power. Solar energy is a powerful source of energy. Solar power is a good example. It's free, and can provide the power we need for all of our electrical needs. Solar and wind energy are renewable resources that replenish themselves over time. However, solar and geothermal heat can also cause some environmental impact. These sources are also considered environmentally preferable and have a great potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Hydroelectric power plants produce electricity, but they do not last long. Some plants can only supply power for 20 to 30 years. Wind energy also requires transition lines, increasing costs. And while wind turbines produce little pollution, they can still be an eyesore on the skyline. Other renewable energy sources are wave and tidal energy. These sources produce electricity by converting water through turbines. Moreover, some projects use moving tides to turn turbine blades.