With renewable energy becoming more affordable, researchers in the United States are beginning to look for new sources to reduce the burgeoning imposed by energy needs. The introduction of new sources of renewable energy is hampered by the costs associated with new products coming to the market. As established sources can be easily manufactured on an assembly line, newer products are generally not mass produced. This can result in increased costs. Regardless, new sources of renewable energy are continuing to emerge and result in a decrease in pollution.
1. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy pulls heated water and steam from the Earth to create electricity. This electricity can be used to run power stations. This is a very clean form of energy that can offset a portion of a state’s energy needs. California has over 40 geothermal power stations, but they only produce about five percent of the state’s energy needs. Other countries are using geothermal energy for more than one-quarter of their energy needs. The main issues with geothermal energy include the cost of plants and the fact that plants have to be located next to geothermally active areas.
2. Improved Solar Technology
Solar power is increasingly becoming more effective. Chevron runs several research-based plants to discover new and more efficient methods of harnessing solar power. In one installation, lenses are used to focus sunlight onto triple-layer solar cells. This method is able to produce a substantial amount of solar energy, and the plant produced 7.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy from April 2011 through 2015. Countries like Japan place solar panels on available waterfronts since they have limited land resources. These sources of power are used to power farms and smaller areas. The main problem with solar power is that the panels can be costly to replace, but this technology is becoming more accessible as the prices come down. Another technology on the forefront of science involves the ability to harness the power of solar wind. In the future, this could provide a large degree of renewable energy.
3. Wind Power
Wind turbines that stand hundreds of feet in the air use the power of wind to generate electricity. These systems require several units to provide a substantial amount of power, and they can create a noise pollution program. This is why most turbines are placed away from urban areas. It’s estimated that the United States can create more than 10 times its energy needs by using wind power. It’s also one of the least expensive options for renewable energy currently available. The main objections to the technology are the appearance on the landscape and some concerns about the long-term effects on birds and the habitat.
Biomass relies on plant matter to produce electricity. The process is a low-carbon source of energy that results in very little pollution. Since waste residues will always exist, items like scrap wood, forest resources and mill residuals provide a continuous source of renewable energy. Scientists are even experimenting with animal waste to find ways to turn it into renewable, clean energy. There are some problems associated with this type of renewable energy. In the first place, it’s not as advanced of a system as solar energy or wind energy. This makes it rather expensive, but the costs could come down if it was utilized more routinely. It can also have a negative impact on the environment if the system isn’t managed correctly.
5. Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectric power uses turbines that are powered by the flow of water. Hydroelectric power provides an estimated 20 percent of the energy needs of the world. There are some negative impacts to hydroelectric power. Rivers need to have a dam installed, which can impact the wildlife and local ecosystem. It also impacts farmers who rely on a continual supply of fish. The cost to build a hydroelectric dam is also high, and the return on investment takes a significant amount of time.
While these are the most likely sources of renewable energy for the future, there are also some sources that are not likely to catch on. However, body heat is one source of energy that could be used to power small mobile devices. Sugar has also been considered for use, and scientists have found ways to convert it into hydrogen. Sludge, vibrations and even jellyfish are being considered as options as well. These largely untested sources of renewable energy could have some use on a small scale, but it’s likely that solar, wind and water will remain the primary sources of renewable energy for some time.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Econoheat., the world’s #1 leading waste oil boiler manufacturer.