Advantages of Renewable Energy

Megan Stubblefield
renewable energy types

There are many advantages associated with renewable energy. Find out about the different benefits of various types of renewable power sources so that you can make an informed decision about energy consumption in your home.

Benefits of Different Types of Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Solar power is created through the use of panels and other methods of collecting heat from the sun and converting it into energy.

  • Solar power allows consumers to be more self-sufficient with regards to their energy supply. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) indicates that the modular nature of solar power systems makes them less likely to succumb to widespread collapse, which is good for individual consumers and good for society as a whole.
  • Solar energy is one form of renewable energy that you can install in your home. You gain energy independence when you install a solar system in your home.
  • For individual consumers and society at large, solar power is ultimately cost-effective. Solar energy requires what you may consider to be a large initial investment. Your cost includes installation and maintenance of the system. The California Solar Electric Company indicates that the rate at which solar systems pay for themselves will vary, but it will happen in the short-term or the long-term.
  • Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy taps into an infinite source. Solar energy is free and renewable and as long as the sun shines, you have a source of energy.

Wind Energy

Like solar energy, wind energy offers you a clean, alternative and renewable source of energy. You can have your own system or be part of a network that offers service to a community.

  • Wind energy is ultimately cost-effective for consumers and for societies. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (OEERE) indicates that wind energy is among the most affordable of all renewable energy technologies.
  • The UCS includes wind energy when describing energy sources that are not accompanied by air pollutants. The introduction of wind energy is better for the environment and for human health.
  • The OEERE emphasizes the fact that the introduction of wind turbines can help many rural economies. On a larger level, since wind energy is domestic, it can help national economies as well, according to the OEERE. Individual rural people can benefit, and citizens can all benefit from a more stable economy and energy supply.

Biomass

Biomass replaces fossil fuel with an alternative, renewable form of energy. Examples include corn, soybeans, and agricultural wastes. This form of energy is implemented at the utility level.

  • The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) indicates that using biomass as a fuel source cuts down on the space needed for landfills while allowing existing landfills to persist for longer.
  • The advantage of using this form of energy is that it's readily available. In some cases, the use of biomass accomplishes two goals: provides energy and deals with a waste product such as sewage sludge.
  • The combustion of biomass produces fewer harmful byproducts than the combustion of other fuel sources. PUCO indicates that burning coal produces significantly more ash, and that biomass ash actually has some useful applications for agricultural soil.

Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectricity harnesses the power of downstream water flow to generate electricity.

  • Like solar and wind energy, you are essentially using a free source of energy, which causes no emissions. Of course, geography plays a key role in how hydroelecric power works and whether this form of energy can be implemented in an area.
  • The OEERE also indicates that hydropower can allow societies to become more self-sufficient with regards to energy since it is produced domestically.
  • Hydroelectricity is sustainable, since it is ultimately a product of the water cycle, as the OEERE indicates. Long after fossil fuels resources are gone, the forces that make hydroelectricity possible will still be continuing on the Earth.

Methane

Methane energy provides another renewable energy source that benefits both the environment and especially farmers. Methane can be created from cow manure, which generates heat. This heat is captured and converted into energy.

  • Methane is an efficient source of energy that allows people to take advantage of waste products as opposed to unnecessarily consuming resources that may have other uses.
  • The methane energy source helps the environment by removing agricultural waste and providing additional income to farmers while supplying a clean form of energy. PUCO indicates that the gas-to-energy projects conducted through landfill sites make use of the landfill emissions that were already being produced. This situation contrasts sharply with the fact that so many resources go into mining coal and obtaining other nonrenewable sources of energy.
  • The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) indicates that agricultural manure is a source of water and air pollution, so processing manure for the sake of energy production can help counteract those problems.
  • Methane itself is a potent greenhouse gas, so turning methane into an energy source can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions, according to the SECO.

Geothermal

Geothermal energy extracts heat from the earth and transfers it for use in your home. Geothermal heat is a byproduct of the natural decaying of minerals in the ground and the absorption of solar energy deep within the earth. While ancient uses of geothermal were limited to heating, modern technology allows for it to be converted into electricity. The most common home application uses geothermal for direct heating.

  • According to National Geographic (NatGeo), one of the biggest advantages of geothermal power, even relative to other types of renewable energy, is its availability. Geothermal energy can be extracted all year long.
  • NatGeo also indicates that geothermal energy is one of the cheapest energy sources available. Individuals and local and national economies can all benefit from this comparatively affordable energy source.

General Advantages of Most Renewable Energies

The environmental advantages of switching to renewable energy are unmistakable. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stresses the importance of being able to produce energy without creating harmful greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution. On an individual level, using many of the renewable energy sources will reduce your carbon footprint because alternative sources such as solar energy, wind power, and hydroelectricity produce no emissions.

wind power

Many forms of renewable energy produce no solid waste, reducing pollution production.

  • With solar and wind energy, there is no water discharge, making your overall environmental impact from using these energy sources minimal.
  • Considering that your home energy and cooling and heating costs contribute to the greatest amount of your carbon footprint, choosing renewable energy can greatly reduce your overall environmental impact.
  • These sources are not detrimental to the earth since they do not require any mining or drilling.

The EPA also indicates that the sheer number of available renewable energy sources is one of the fundamental strengths of renewable energy. Switching to a system involving multiple renewable energy sources means societies get to enjoy a varied and stable energy supply.

In addition to all the environmental benefits, the EPA stresses the economic benefits of using renewable energy. Investing in renewable energy can lead to job creation in everything from installation to manufacturing, according to the EPA. Naturally, many individuals will benefit from this situation, since they will be able to take advantage of the new job opportunities

Goal of Using Renewable Energy

The goal in using renewable energy sources is to reduce the negative environmental effects associated with non-renewable energy sources such as coal and natural gas. Opting to use a renewable energy source will not only translate into cost savings for you over the long haul, but will also help protect the environment from the risks of fossil fuel emissions of non-renewable energy sources.

Advantages of Renewable Energy