Renewable energy is a form of clean energy that is provided by natural sources present in nature.
The main forms of renewable energy are: solar, wind, hydro, biofuel and geothermal (energy derived from heat generated under the earth’s surface) and these sources are all continually replenished.
About 18 percent of all electricity in the United States was produced by renewable sources in 2017, up from 15 percent the previous year. By 2020 about one-quarter of the world’s energy is expected to be produced by renewable types; over half by 2040.
Why Is Renewable Energy Important?
Climate change and global warming concerns, coupled with high oil prices, peak oil, and increasing government support, are driving increasing renewable energy legislation, incentives and commercialization.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Department of Energy, renewable energy is important because:
- Environmental Benefits –Renewable energy technologies are clean sources of energy that have a much lower environmental impact than conventional, nonrenewable technologies.
- A Finite Source – Renewable energy is renewable, it will never run out unlike coal, oil and other conventional energy technologies.
- More Jobs, Economy Boost – Rather than buy costly energy imports, most renewable energy modalities are investments that originate within the United States using local materials and local workmanship.
- Increased Energy Security – By producing renewable energy domestically, the U.S. does not have to be dependent on foreign oil.
Renewable energy is not recently discovered. Before the development of coal in mid-19th century, just about all energy was renewable, especially biomass (like wood) to fuel fires. The second oldest usage of renewable energy was using the wind to drive ships over water. The practice can be traced back 7,000 years to ships on the Nile and in the Persian Gulf. In the time of recorded history, human labor, animal power, water power and firewood were the primary sources of renewable energy.
Curiously, around 1900 in the United States, oil and gas had about the same importance as wind and solar in 2010. It was still primarily a renewable energy world. Also interestingly, in the 1860s there were already predictions that society would someday run out of fossil fuels and would be forced to find a better source.
10 Renewable Energy Quick Facts
- The importance of solar energy was recognized in a 1911 Scientific American article. Development of solar engines continued until the outbreak of World War I.
- More than half of renewable energy sources are devoted to producing electricity.
- Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than $286 billion in 2015, with countries like Chinaand the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
- Globally, there are an estimated 7.7 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaicsbeing the largest renewable employer.
- Renewable energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.
- Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper. Their share of total energy consumption is increasing.
- If it could be properly harnessed, there’s enough sunlight that falls on the earth in just one hour to meet the world energy demands for a whole year.
- One wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 300 homes.
- In some countries, renewable energyis now cheaper than fossil fuels.
- The world’s resource base for geothermal energy is larger than the resource base for coal, oil, gas and uranium combined.
Learn More About Renewable Energy
Obviously, the world is tilting toward renewable energy. Engineers, technicians, analysts, managers, non-engineering professionals and planners will all benefit from staying current in renewable energy.
TONEX offers hands-on training courses in renewable energy:
Browse through our courses. Contact us with your questions or comments.