Renewable Energys Bright Future: Green Energys Prosand ConsBy Stephanie RosendahlRenewable Energys Bright Future: Green Energys Pros and ConsRecent international focus on safe energy underscores the need for reevaluating all energy alternatives,particularly those that are clean and renewable. Because although the global economy is coming out ofa recent recession, oil prices are climbing and the demand for alternative renewable sources isconsistently growing. Indeed, the alternative energy market is one of the few markets that has seensubstantial growth during the recent recession of the last two years. One thing is clear; the need formore efficient use of electricity with the integration of renewable energy sources is present.Smart Grid and the Integration of Renewable Energy SourcesThe Smart Grid is a Department of Energy (DOE) supported project that involves an integrated system ofmixed distributed resources to increase the penetration of renewable energy - such as hydro, wind,solar, wind and geothermal, while delivering improved efficiency and reliability. These and otherdistributed resources will be fully integrated into the new smart, electrical grid.What is Renewable Energy?Renewable energy sources are sources of energy that are constantly replenished. These include energyfrom water, wind, the sun, geothermal sources, and biomass sources such as energy crops. Incomparison, fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are non-renewable. Once a deposit of these fuels isdepleted it cannot be replenished - a replacement source must be found instead. In the United States,both renewable and non-renewable energy sources are used to generate electricity, power vehicles, andprovide heating, cooling, and light. While renewable energy is generally more expensive thanconventionally produced supplies, alternative power helps to reduce pollution and to conserve fossilfuels. "People sometimes get caught up in cost-effectiveness," said Paul Torcellini, a senior engineer atthe DOEs National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. "But it can be a questionof values and what we spend our money on."For comparison purposes, we will explore a few of the different sources of renewable energy:HydropowerWHAT IT IS:Hydropower refers to the use of water to generate electricity. Water is the most common renewablesource of energy in the United States today. Hydroelectric power doesnt necessarily require a large dam
- some hydroelectric power plants just use a small canal to channel the river water through a turbine.Other uses of hydropower include water-cooled chiller and power systems.PROS:Hydropower is a renewable and non-polluting energy source without any greenhouse gas discharge andno toxic waste production.CONS:Where dams are built in order to utilize hydropower, the cost can be substantial. Also, the unnaturalblock in the rivers system disturbs natural fish migratory and spawning patterns.THE FUTURE:Hydropower energy sources should experience strong development in the coming decades because oftheir non-polluting nature and significant unexploited potential.Wind PowerWHAT IT IS:Wind power refers to the use of modern wind turbines that are used to generate electricity, either forindividual use or for contribution to a utility power grid. The power in wind increases rapidly with itsspeed, which means that locating windmills in areas of strong winds is critical. The strongest winds inthe United States tend to be in Alaska, the western United States, and the Appalachians. Wind powercurrently supplies about 1% of United States electricity needs, but capacity is expanding rapidly.PROS:Wind power is plentiful, renewable and relatively affordable. Wind power does not produce emissions.CONS:Wind power produces power intermittently.
THE FUTURE:Renewable energy companies are producing technology that is becoming more attractive and althoughthis is to be expected with climbing oil prices, the demand for alternative energy was climbing even twoyears ago when oil prices were low. In 2008, oil prices were lower than they are today, yet 2008 was amarket year for wind energy installation. One out of two wind turbines in the United States are GE built.The painful recession that occurred in the last few years did not slow the growth of alternativerenewable energy. Wind energy business is taking off with more wind energy installed in 2008 than hadbeen installed in the previous twenty years.Solar PowerWHAT IT IS:Solar power refers to the use of the suns energy to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and evencooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. Despite sunlights significant potential for supplyingenergy, solar power provides less than 1% of U.S. energy needs. This percentage is expected to increasewith the development of new and more efficient solar technologies.PROS:Solar power gives off no pollution, however, during the manufacturing, transportation and installation ofthese goods there is pollution produced.CONS:A big drawback of solar power is the large investment needed in order to purchase solar cells. Currently,prices of highly efficient solar cells can be above $1000, and some applications may need more thanone. This makes the initial installation of solar panels very expensive. Homeowners have been reluctantto embrace solar panel installations on their homes because the panels can be aesthetically unpleasingand because the technology may require puncturing an existing roof and bolting on metal supports,which can void the roofs warranty.THE FUTURE:Solar panel roof tiles consist of grids of raised black cells that, up until now, have usually come in theform of large clunky rectangular panels that either stand alone, or must be bolted onto a roof. Themarket potential for aesthetically appealing solar panels that can be integrated into the roof of oneshouse is great. Read more at Sunslates.
Geothermal PowerWHAT IT IS:Geothermal power refers to the use of natural sources of heat inside the Earth to produce heat orelectricity. Currently, most geothermal power is generated using steam or hot water from underground.Geothermal power generation produces few emissions and the power source is continuously available.PROS:Geothermal power is efficient and cost effective. This power source leads to savings. Additionally, this isaround 70% cheaper than heating a home using electric heating, oil or liquefied petroleum gas.CONS:Geothermal power is not a do-it-yourself project because of the technical knowledge and machineryrequired for design and installation. The design alone may already be complicated to do and the pipeconnection process requires proper training and the right tools.THE FUTURE:For individual household applications, geothermal heat pumps pass air through a pipe below groundthat stays a constant 50 to 60 degrees, heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, savingtremendous amounts on utility costs in the process. Although geothermal stocks lost significant valueduring the recent recession, it is anticipated that Federal incentives will lure private capital to the sector,allowing financing to go through for new projects.Renewable, Green Energy: Future GrowthAssumptions about world oil prices are not the only important factor that underscores the need forrenewable energy use and consolidation. It is projected that by the year 2030, the demand for electricityin the United States will jump by 30%. And with projected oil prices, as well as concern about theenvironmental impacts of fossil fuel use and strong government incentives for increasing the use ofrenewable energy, the prospects for renewable energy use will likely increase worldwide.Design and installation of renewable energy solutions in Yorkshire and surrounding areas :http://www.ecogreeninnovations.co.uk/