Renewable energy, clean energy, green energy — all of these terms are becoming more and more common (good news for us here on CleanTechnica, since this is what we’re passionate about). I’m sure you are aware that wind energy and solar energy are renewable energy sources. But what else is on that list? (Note: if you want more info on what wind or solar energy are, check out those links above.)
Other than wind and solar, there are actually a ton of renewable energy sources. Basically, anything we can use to create energy that will quickly renew is a form or source of renewable energy. But, to get more specific, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular renewable energy sources (other than the already mentioned celebrities in this category — solar and wind energy):
Hydro (Water) Energy: Hydro energy, of course, is tapped from the many large-scale hydroelectric dams we’re all familiar with. But there’s also small-scale hydro technology, wave power technology, tidal power technology, pumped-storage hydro technology, run-of-river hydro technology, ocean thermal energy technology, osmotic energy technology, marine current energy technology, and probably more! In other words, water falls or moves in many places and many ways, and the energy from that can be captured using many different types of technology. (Note: hydro or water energy is also sometimes referred to as hydrokinetic energy.)
Geothermal Energy: Geothermal energy is thermal energy that comes from the earth. As you may remember from elementary school (or primary school if you’re British), far beneath us, the earth is hot. The thermal energy, in the form of heat, that rises from the earth’s core to where we stand on the ground is known as geothermal energy. Why? Well, as Wikipedia notes, the word geothermal “originates from the Greek roots γη (ge), meaning earth, and θερμος (thermos), meaning hot.” This is actually a very abundant source of energy that has been rather neglected in the clean energy rush. Hopefully, it will grow in use considerably in the years to come — it’s clean, widely available, and consistent/stable.
Biomass & Biofuels: Biomass (aka plant material) is a bit different from the renewable energy sources above. Biomass is renewable because it is something that gets its energy from the sun (the world’s largest renewable energy source… by far) and can renew or reproduce quickly enough that it is essentially an infinite resource. Basically, as you know, plants capture the energy of the sun. When they are burnt, that process releases that energy again (and in a way that we can make some use of it… to create electricity or heat). So, truthfully, you can look at biomass as a natural type of energy storage. (Of course, biomass has to be used sustainably — not too fast — and must not require too much input from humans — such as fertilizers and pesticides — to be truly renewable.) Biofuels, of which there are various kinds, are types of fuel that come from biomass.
Now, if you want to read about the latest news regarding these renewable energy sources, check out our categories for the respective energy sources you’re interested in (via the menu bar above) or just stroll on over to our home page.
Images: wind turbine, solar panel, & globe; water & hand; geothermal power plant; and field of rape (common source of biofuels) courtesy of shutterstock.