A Simple Guide to Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable energy can be defined in a number of ways, but it essentially boils down to this: renewable energy is any source of energy that can be utilized without depleting the amount of that energy available. Energy derived from something like wind is inherently renewable because we cannot use up all of the wind. Energy derived from oil solar power system or coal is not renewable because there is no known way to reproduce these resources, and so if we continue to use them indefinitely we will ultimately run out.
There are some sources of energy that are renewable but require additional work to preserve the supply. An example of this would be wood used as fuel. There are a finite number of trees to provide that wood at any given point in time, but as long as the amount of wood being used does not exceed the amount being consumed for any long period of time we will always be able to renew our supply of wood.
Other examples of renewable forms of energy are solar power, tidal power, geothermal power, biofuels such as soybean oil and ethanol; and traditional animal power such as a horse and buggy. These have different sources and applications but the trait they all share is that they can be sustained indefinitely for earth.
Another non-renewable source of energy is natural gas. We will eventually use up all of the natural gas that exists on earth and there is no known way to create more of it. Renewability is an important concept in understanding the preservation of our planet and our way of life. Traditionally mankind has relied on non-renewable sources of energy such as oil and coal to heat our homes, power our cars, generate electricity, and run our factories. With the rise of environmental awareness in America and throughout the world however, a greater emphasis is being placed on utilizing renewable energy sources.
While renewable power still constitutes the minority of power created on earth, the fraction it constitutes is shrinking. Some renewable power technology has been around for a very long time, such as the windmill, which harnesses wind power to turn a wheel which can be used to grind grain. Today we are making big leaps forward, however. Similar to the traditional windmill, engineers have developed giant turbines that use wind power to create electricity by turning magnets. This sort of technology gives mankind the hope of one day breaking our dependency on non-renewable energy and no longer having to live with the threat of an ever shrinking supply of resources.
Even more impressive scientific breakthroughs are being made more and more frequently. One of the most promising areas of research is hydrogen power, where power could be generated directly from hydrogen atoms with only water vapor produced as a byproduct. This could radically change the way we live if it becomes practical to use on a large scale. Renewable power is a new and fascinating field, and one that we must keep researching if our planet is going to continue to sustain human life.