Over the past few years, renewable energy has been on the minds of many, especially considering the information available on energy prices and climate change. So I thought it would be nice to share a few facts about the most common renewable energy sources in the United States. That said, let's jump right into it with four of the major categories:
1. Solar Energy
One of the most widely-known types of renewable energy sources is solar energy. That is, machines which can gather sunlight and convert it into electricity. In the recent years, we have made leaps and bounds in this field. Solar panels are becoming more and more efficient, and in fact, Elon Musk's corporation, Tesla, has recently begun preorders for a brand new type of roofing tile that doubles as a solar panel. They're so popular, they've already sold out until the end of 2018!
This field is still in its infancy, so you can expect the technology to get better and better!
2. Wind Energy
Wind Energy is another that you've probably heard about. This type of renewable energy uses the power of wind to turn turbines that in turn generate electricity. While we've made significant advances in the United States, we still haven't been able to solve a couple of key problems: efficiency and (more importantly) bird deaths. According to the Smithsonian, wind turbines in the United States are responsible of the deaths of between 140,000 and 328,000 birds annually.
A definite hurdle to overcome, but if we can overcome it, wind energy has serious potential.
3. Water Energy and Hydroelectric Power
Now here's a fascinating one. Water energy uses strong current areas such as the Gulf Stream to turn underwater turbines which generate electricity. This is a relatively new field, but one worth investigating further.
Hydroelectric power, on the other hand, has been in use for years. Turbines are turned by water flowing through dams. According to the Institute for Energy Research, hydroelectric power generation is responsible for supplying 2.4% of the entire nation's electricity usage in 2015.
4. Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy is, by far, the highest-producing type of renewable energy that we have yet discovered. By splitting uranium atoms, nuclear power plants generate heat to produce steam, which is then used by a turbine to generate power.
The United States alone has 99 nuclear power plants across 30 states, and altogether produce 20% of the nation's annual energy.
But there's a fear among the people, usually perpetuated by either false media reports or science fiction movies, that this type of energy is catastrophically dangerous. Today, nuclear power plants are safer than ever, and have implemented numerous protocols to prevent meltdowns. And even better: brand new nuclear power plants are able to use the hazardous WASTE from the old ones to generate even MORE power!
Whether you're as excited as I am about the idea of these new advancements or not, there's one thing everyone should agree on:
The ingenuity of Americans is absolutely astounding!