For thousands of years, ancient civilizations relied on renewable energy sources to survive. The sun was their light. Wooden fires were their fuel for cooking. And horses were used for transportation.
Then we hit the industrial age. We began burning coal and extracting oil. And while the planet currently relies on these sources of energy to power our homes, cars, and businesses, they are a limited resource.
It’s only a matter of time before they run out. This is why we need to return to renewable energy.
But what are renewable energy sources, and which ones actually make sense in the 21st century, where billions of people rely on cars, planes, ad charging ports for our cell phones? Keep reading to learn about the three most prominent energy sources we need to focus on.
- Solar Energy
What is renewable energy? Most people will respond with the term “solar power.”
Light from the sun is the most abundant natural resource available to us. It hits the entire earth every single day. As long as humans are walking the plane,t we will have sunlight.
And with solar panels, we can convert that sunlight into electricity relatively easily.
By installing solar panels at homes and businesses, they can reduce their dependency on burning coal in order to power their daily life. It saves people money in the long run and does far less damage to the earth.
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- Wind Power
The second most prominent form of renewable energy is wind power. Large wind turbines are built in areas where fierce winds are constant. They are a common sight in the deserts of the American Southwest, for example.
Wind spins the turbines, which generate electricity and sends it to the local power grid. They are only suitable in certain areas that receive enough wind, however.
And they aren’t always the prettiest sight. Off-shore wind farms are currently in development.
Hydropower is another very effective form of generating renewable energy. The only problem is that it comes at another environmental cost.
Hydropower often comes in the form of a dam. Dams control water flow. The water can be directed to flow over a turbine, generating power.
The problem is that damming up a river negatively impacts the environment. Fish can’t flow upstream, which impacts the entire ecosystem.
While dams aim to solve one environmental problem, they inadvertently cause another. While they are used heavily on a commercial basis, an alternative solution is ideal to limit the environmental impact long-term, lest we wipe out important fish species like wild salmon.
What Are Renewable Energy Sources?
So what are renewable energy sources? They are any energy source that comes from nature and isn’t going to run out. Sunlight, wind, and water are all abundant and renewable. We can use them today, and they won’t run out tomorrow, unlike fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
As a society, we need to move towards dependence on renewable resources. But we also need to do it in a way that doesn’t inadvertently harm the planet in the process.
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