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The Light of Renewable Energy

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You're probably familiar with the story of Hanukkah. With only enough oil to last a single night, the Jewish Temple's eternal flame miraculously burned for eight full days. Hanukkah is rooted in the kind of energy that lasts, much like renewable energy can provide limitless energy efficiency today.

What is Renewable Energy?

Like the oil from the Hanukkah story, renewable energy is naturally-generated energy that comes from constantly-replenished processes. Unlike traditional energy sources, like coal or oil, it is not "used up."

Types of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from a range of sources. There are several types of renewable energy that currently meet commercial sustainability standards. 


When you think of renewable energy, chances are, it's solar energy that comes to mind. Solar energy takes radiant light and heat from the sun and converts it to energy. Today's solar panels are long-lasting and able to generate more solar energy than ever before, making them an efficient and effective form of energy use.. In fact, solar energy has become so effective that in California, many solar power facilities find it necessary to sell their power to other states in order to maintain the grid.


Imagine windmills dotting the landscape, steadily generating power that help keep the lights on at businesses and homes across the area. Wind flow has been used on a small scale for a long time to pump water on farms, but today's turbines are even more effective at collecting wind power and transforming it into energy. Wind energy is often used for specific tasks like grinding or pumping, but it can also be stored for larger-scale use. 


The movement of the tides Is constant, and with the right equipment, it's possible to collect that energy. With over 70 percent of the Earth's surface covered by water, this source of renewable energy is highly promising. Hydropower has been used since ancient times for irrigation and other purposes. However, today's scientists are finding a wide range of uses for this type of power.


Hydrogen is one of the cleanest sources of fuel available, not to mention one of the most abundant. Hydrogen produces little to no pollution when used, making it an ideal energy source. Unfortunately, hydrogen containers are also fragile and expensive to produce, which means that advances in technology will be necessary to make this type of renewable energy widespread. 


Biomass is organic matter that comes from plants and animals. By burning these energy sources, it's possible to produce high quantities of energy. Waste from livestock used on farms, ethanol or biodiesel fuel sources, or burning biomass can all be used to produce effective bioenergy. Biomass typically stores energy that is collected from the sun, which is then released through the burning process and can be collected for other purposes. 


Geothermal energy uses the heat of the earth to generate power for a variety of sources. On a large scale, it may harness the heat energy close to the Earth's core to provide large quantities of energy. On a smaller scale, energy located just ten feet beneath the surface can be used to provide heating and cooling power for the buildings located on top of the soil. Geothermal energy is most commonly used for heating buildings, but it has many other potential applications as the technology improves.

The Current State of Renewable Energy

While the energy sources themselves may be free and in infinite supply, there is cost associated with collecting and producing that energy. However, renewable energy is rapidly becoming less expensive, and in some cases, it may even cost less than burning fossil fuels. By 2021, it is estimated that solar power - one of the more expensive renewable options currently available - will be competitive in cost with coal power around the worldBy 2040, the cost of solar power is expected to plummet as much as 66 percent for solar and 71 percent for wind power.  

By the end of 2016, approximately 24 percent of global electricity was produced from renewable sources - most notably hydropower from the ocean, though wind and solar energy also offered substantial contributions. That number continues to rise substantially. By the year 2050, it is estimated that at least 80 percent of the electricity in the US will be generated from renewable sources.

The key is balance. By using energy from several renewable sources, the U.S. can generate a larger percentage of its energy from renewable sources. In some cities, there is already a commitment to 100% renewable power - a goal that is set to transform power usage across the US.

While many advances toward renewable energy have been made, it takes time to shape these new energy uses and transform the way plants and other facilities do business. By helping make the switch to renewable energy, like installing solar panels at your business, you can make a significant impact in the overall use of energy and help those finite resources last longer.

Keep up with all of the energy trends and changes that were brought about in 2017. Download our full report now.

2017  Year in Review

Posted: December 12, 2017