Solar - Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy is our Future
Renewable energy comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat. Technological developments make it possible to use this energy and convert it into solar power, hydropower, biomass, biofuel, and geothermal energy.
The sun shines every day and provides us with an immense renewable energy source. At the moment we use only a tiny fraction of alternative energy. The worldwide demand for it is increasing and is actually greater than the supply.
What are non-renewable energy sources?
Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas are non-renewable resources. They are limited and cannot renew themselves immediately.
It takes millions of years to form fossil fuels but only a short time to use them up.
Interestingly, even fossil fuels are a form of solar energy. Coal, oil, and gas were formed hundreds of millions of years ago from decomposed plant matter. Plants grow using the light from the sun, a process known as photosynthesis.
The formation of non-renewable energy is biological, but the production and use of fossil fuels raise environmental concerns. Therefore, oil and gas are not desirable energy alternatives.
Negative Effects of Fossil Fuels
The combustion of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, but only half of it can be absorbed by natural processes.
Source: Sandia Corporation
Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming. In the United States, more than 90% of greenhouse gas emissions derive from the combustion of fossil fuels, in stark contrast to those from renewable energy.
Harvesting, processing, and distributing fossil fuels also have negative effects. Coal mines, offshore oil platforms, and oil refineries often negatively impact natural environments and pollute our air and water.
How Much Renewable Energy Do We Use?
In the U.S., renewable energy provided about 8% of all the energy used in 2010, and the American solar market is continuing to grow.
Energy needs are increasing and could easily be satisfied with alternative energy. From 2004 to 2009, worldwide renewable energy capacity grew at rates of 10 to 60 percent annually. In particular, the development of grid-connected PV installations is increasing rapidly.