Definition of Renewable Energy

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy is energy that can be infinitely replenished as it comes from natural resources such as geothermal heat, wind, tides, sunlight, etc. Renewable energy is much better for the environment and much more sustainable for our economies and sociopolitical stability than non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, etc. Humans have been using forms of renewable energy for centuries – it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that fossil fuel energy became popular.

Renewable energy is most often used to create electricity for use in homes, offices, and industrial processes, but it can also be used to heat and cool homes directly as well as for fuel for transportation. The most important benefit of renewable energy is that it does not produce greenhouse gasses, which helps to slow climate change.

Today, there are many types of renewable energy available for human consumption:

  • Biomass: This is derived from things like wood, solid waste, biofuels, and biogas.
  • Geothermal: By tapping into the earth’s internal heat, geothermal energy can be used to produce electricity, can warm and cool buildings, as well as heat water.
  • Hydrogen: As the most abundant element on the planet, there is plenty to go around, and if it can be harnessed, it can provide fuel for vehicles or electricity.
  • Low-impact hydropower: This is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy and it works by capturing the energy in flowing water. Low-impact hydropower minimizes flooding, displacement of communities, and disruption of local ecosystems.
  • Ocean/Wave: Just as with the flow of fresh water, marine water also contains a lot of energy as it moves through the hydrologic cycle. Harnessing this energy with offshore turbines has tremendous promise as a source of renewable energy.
  • Solar: The most well-known form of renewable energy, solar captures the sun’s energy directly to either heat homes and water or for generating electricity.
  • Wind: As air moves through the earth, driven by the energy of the sun, it also has the potential to be tapped for energy. 
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