In this series, Jennifer Gumpert, our VP of Business Development and Operations, walks us through material terms and concepts that are used frequently, but not always understood. This week: renewable energy.
Renewable energy, or “clean energy,” comes from natural sources or processes that can be replenished – such as sunlight or wind. These technologies create energy as long as the wind keeps blowing or the sun keeps shining.
To understand the value and benefit of renewable energy, we must first understand the consequences of non-renewable energy. By definition, fossil-fuels, gas, or coal are non-renewable resources because the total supply of these resources is limited or takes a very long time to replace. When we pump gas into our cars, we’re using a fuel refined from crude oil created during the prehistoric era. What’s worse, the processes used to drill and refine these fossil fuels can have devastating effects because they create greenhouse gases and pollute the water we drink.
Also, non-renewable energy can be highly localized – with certain regions of the globe experiencing an abundance of these substances and limited access (either by geography, availability, politics or price point) to other regions.
Conversely, renewable energy methods focus on the natural elements available to everyone, everywhere. Technologies in this category are designed to harness the power of the sun, wind, water, geothermal heat, and even tidal movements; utilizing resources which occur naturally, and in perpetuity to harness the power of nature and create a resource which will not negatively impact our environment.
And of course, before we close, we want to take a moment to talk about a specific type of renewable energy: Bioenergy. Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy that is derived from recently living organic materials known as biomass, which can be used to produce transportation fuels, heat, electricity and products. These resources are abundant and can be converted into various usable forms of energy including methane gas, biogas and/or biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel.
- NRDC: Renewable Energy Facts
- EIA: Renewable Energy Explained
- Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Bioenergy Basics
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