Your Green Energy Sources 2018 Primer
My Green Marketplace is happy to provide you with your official green energy sources 2018 primer. As most of us already know, green energy is energy that is created through environmentally friendly processes that do not use traditional carbon-based fuels. (Translation: no coal, no oil.) Such methods have many advantages: decreased dependence on finite resources that can run out, increased energy independence from other countries, the ability to diversify energy sources to increase efficiency, job creation, and of course, decreased emissions. (And in some cases decreased costs. Hopefully one day in all cases.) The most commonly encountered forms of green energy include: solar power, wind power, water power, geothermal power, and bioenergy. Read on for some great info on each and some awesome video.
Believe it or not, there are two major kinds of solar power. The kind that most of us are familiar with converts sunlight to energy using photovoltaic cells (PC). How do they do it? In short, the cells absorb photons from the sunlight which creates an electric field that ultimately renders the electricity which we all love. This is what is happening when you see solar panels on homes, offices, or the roofs of parking lots.
The second major kind of solar energy is known as concentrating solar power, or CSP. This occurs at large power plants where mirrors are used to concentrate light onto receivers that convert it to heat. This heat is then converted into electric energy. This is a major operation requiring a lot of space, so it usually occurs at utility plants rather than on your neighbors rooftop. (But if your neighbor is building one be sure to let us know. Also probably alert the fire department.)
At My Green Marketplace we think that concentrating solar power (CSP) is pretty cool (and seems like it’s from the future) so we’ve included a short video below. Be sure to take a look. Also, if you are interested in learning more about Solar Power or getting more involved with solar energy initiatives check out The Solar Energy Industries Association. They’ve got some great resources.
Wind power is one of the oldest power sources on this list. Mankind has been using wind as an energy source every since we threw sails on top of our ships, and windmills have been around for hundreds of years. The modern wind turbine is a bit more complicat
ed but largely based on the same original premise. Turbines works by catching the wind’s energy when it blows. The wind pushes propellers in circles, and these propellers then spin a series of gears which create electricity. (In short.)
As technology has improved the variety of wind power options has increased. Today you can find turbines on large offshore platforms, in giant wind fields, or even at people’s houses. (Although those turbines tend to be much smaller.)
The most common forms of water power is hydro power, although tidal power is also being developed. Hydro power creates energy by using moving water to spin a turbine that transfers the water’s energy to a generator which then produces electricity. The most famous such location in the U.S. is the massive Hoover Dam, but these days hydroelectric facilities come in all shapes and sizes.
Tidal power is a similar to hydro power but in an earlier stage of development. The concept is similar but uses the natural energy of ocean waves rather than rivers and streams. Most industry insiders think that the U.S. is an unlikely target for widescale tidal power, although Verdant Power has been working on a project in New York’s East River for years. (And it very well may ‘spring up’ in other parts of the world.)
Want to learn more about hydro power? Check out the video below from the United States Department of Energy.
Geothermal power is a bit less well known than the other energy sources on this list but is no less interesting. The technology generally involve digging a well-like tunnel into the ground in order to access hot water or steam emanating from within the earth. The water / steam is then utilized in a manner similar to that used in wind power and hydro power, i.e. to rotate a turbine which transfers energy to a generator that creates electricity. In the United States, most geothermal energy is produced on the West Coast as well as in Alaska and Hawaii.
Bioenergy is energy that is derived from what is known as biomass. What is biomass? Biomass is a substance that can be derived from a long list of organic materials including crop waste, algae, industrial waste, food waste, wood waste, and grasses, to name a few. It is unique in that it can be used in a wide range of applications. (Examples include clean gasoline substitutes, clean chemical substitutes, and electricity.) There are three basic ways to use biomass to create electricity: burning, bacterial decay, and conversion to liquid fuels such as gasoline. In most cases, they all involve using the biomass to create heat which is then used to create electricity. With such a wide range of inputs and outputs, bioenergy is generating a lot of interest.
So there you have it. My Green Marketplace’s Green Energy Sources 2018 Primer. This is just some basic information. If you are interested in taking a deeper look at the science and possibility of green energy sources 2018, keep an eye on the Green Energy portion of our blog.