What Is the Best Renewable Energy Source?

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Verde Energy has worked with, to date, more than a quarter-million residential, business, and organizational clients to provide high-quality service for their energy needs. The company serves customers in the Northeastern United States, harnessing the power of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and biomass power. Verde Energy further supports the development of green energy through its purchases of renewable energy certificates, or RECs, to offset 100 percent of its clients’ consumption.

So, which renewable energy source is the best? The simple answer is that several different types of renewable energy sources have proven themselves able to deliver exceptional value and usefulness in terms of their ability to “green” the environment while providing consumers with reliable electricity and a seamless user experience.

Here is a summary of some of the differences between renewable sources:

1. Wind

The largest source of sustainable energy in the United States, wind power is responsible for about 8.4 percent of all energy sources generated in the country. The wind is capable of generating power on a massive scale, and it is especially noted among renewables advocates for the wide range of benefits it offers. It produces few environmental side-effects, offering the advantage of an overall carbon footprint even smaller than that of solar.

Wind turbines don’t generate smog, acid rain, or any of the numerous atmospheric toxins and particulates that contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases and exacerbate climate change. Several scientific studies have shown the multiple long-lasting detriments associated with emissions such as carbon monoxide, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and lead.

Wind-generated power can mitigate the uncertainty that the cost of fuel adds to conventional energy sources since it bears no intrinsic fuel costs and is sold as a fixed-price item, typically over decades. Because wind turbines can operate day and night, the energy they produce can be harnessed around the clock. Wind turbine installations offer the flexibility of offshore operations, and they produce larger amounts of energy than solar panels. Plus, wind energy can be easily produced domestically, leading to a reduction of dependence on foreign oil.

Wind power generates more than electricity, too. Today’s wind-energy sector supports the jobs of some 100,000 employees in the US, and it has the potential to support 600,000 more by the year 2050.

2. Sun

Wind and solar power represent the two fastest-growing sources of power in the US. Solar power, which made up about 2.3 percent of total energy in 2020, typically centers on the use of either photovoltaic or solar-thermal power, with solar farms able to generate electrical power on a large scale. Solar’s development, in fact, is limited only by current technological capacities to harness the limitless energy of the sun. Solar panels offer the advantage of being installable in almost any type of building, plus they take up less space than wind turbines. And solar surpass wind in producing a more predictable output of energy over time.

Solar energy offers comparable public health benefits to those obtained through the use of wind power. The impact of solar on the environment is also relatively light, with experts noting that every kilowatt-hour of solar power produced can significantly lower the number of greenhouse gases escaping into the atmosphere.

Solar energy production requires only minimal water consumption, conserving available resources of water for other uses. Notably, the solar industry supports approximately 250,000 jobs in the US alone.

3. Water

Hydroelectric power uses the natural force of flowing water to turn turbines attached to a generator. Hydroelectric plants have been in operation since 1882, when the world’s first such installation began producing energy in Appleton, Wisconsin. Today, hydroelectric sources, including some 2,500 dams across the country, are responsible for approximately 7.3 percent of all electrical power produced in the US.

The generation of hydroelectric power, like wind and solar, offers the enormous advantage of producing relatively minute amounts of toxic emissions. A signal benefit of hydropower is that it can upload power to the grid immediately, with some hydroelectric plants capable of going from zero to maximum output exceptionally quickly.

Like wind and solar, hydropower can be produced entirely domestically, lessening reliance on foreign sources of oil. And, like wind and sunshine, flowing water is a constantly renewing resource.

It also offers the benefits of scale and capacity. The US Department of Energy says that 97 percent of the nation’s dams are not equipped to produce power. Retrofitting the remaining dams could produce power to more than 5 million homes and offset more than 190 million barrels of oil. Hydropower installations could also establish reservoirs that offer recreational benefits including swimming, boating, and fishing.

4. Garbage

While biomass energy, derived from the burning of plant and animal byproducts, was only responsible for approximately 1.4 percent of all energy produced in the US in 2020, it makes a strong contribution in terms of sustainability. Biomass can be converted into a gas that can power gas-driven turbines, steam-generating equipment, and internal combustion engines. Multiple sectors of the American economy, such as health care, entertainment, hospitality, and education, get part of their electric power from biomass energy.

Because it is produced from readily available organic material, such as garbage, manure, and other waste, there are always available sources for biomass energy. And because biomass releases into the atmosphere only the amount of carbon contained in the organic materials it burns, it is entirely carbon-neutral. The burning of biomass itself can additionally reduce the amount of garbage in landfills by as much as 90 percent.

Conclusion

Experts have stated that the sheer variety of choices available among renewable energy sources makes each one the “best” for a wide range of uses. The good news is that the renewables industry continues to make rapid strides in terms of sustainability, efficiency, and value across a wide range of existing and developing energy sources.