Green energy, also known as renewable energy, comes from sources like sunlight, wind, rain, geothermal vents, water, and plants. Green energy is renewable, unlike fossil fuels, and has a much smaller impact on the environment. It can also be sourced in nearly any part of the planet, bringing energy to places that were once unable to have electricity. The most common green energy sources are solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hydropower, and biomass/biogas/biofuel.
As more people are becoming aware of climate change, they are starting to look for more environment-friendly energy sources. Fossil fuels— coal, oil, and natural gas— are finite resources that are commonly used today for energy. It has taken millions of years for fossil fuels to form, and once we run out of them, they’ll be gone forever. In addition to the damage to the environment caused by drilling and mining for fossil fuels, they’re also a major contributor to air pollution, causing acid rain, health problems, environmental changes, and greenhouse gasses.
According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the energy source breakdown for the state is 47% coal, 34% natural gas, 15% nuclear, 3% green, and 1% other (such as petroleum liquid and other gases). Of the renewable resources, the breakdown is 1% wind, 1% hydropower, 1% biomass, and <1% solar. By 2027, at least 12.5% of energy generated and sold in Ohio must come from renewable resources.
Solar power has become well-known in recent years, and thanks to advances in technology, has become a very affordable option for communities to generate power. Common solar power uses panels called photovoltaics to capture sunlight and turn it into energy. Photovoltaic cells convert light into electricity using the photovoltaic effect. Concentrated solar power generates energy by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a receiver. The receiver then converts the light to heat, and the heat powers a generator. Solar power can be used nearly anywhere.
Wind turbines, which look like large windmills, use the power of air flow to create energy. As the blades of the turbine rotate, it moves a rotor that generates energy. Stronger winds produce more energy, so wind power is most effective in areas with high altitudes or close to large bodies of water. Wind power has shown to be extremely efficient, with studies indicating that a network of wind turbines running at 20% capacity could produce more than 40 times the current worldwide consumption of energy.
Geothermal power captures energy from naturally occuring heat vents in the Earth’s crust. Used since ancient times as a source of heat, geothermal power was limited to areas where hot springs and heat vents naturally occur along tectonic plate lines. Modern technology has greatly expanded the locations that can benefit from this renewable energy. Geothermal wells can now be created that release heat deep within the Earth, providing power to locations once outside the boundaries of geothermal energy. In most geothermal power plants, steam is used to power a turbine, which sends energy to a generator to power an area. Geothermal power is renewable, sustainable, cost-effective, and much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.
Hydropower uses the power of water to generate energy, and was one of the first forms of energy used in the United States. For hundreds of years, people would build along rivers, using the energy of the flowing water to spin waterwheels and power things such as grinding mills and sawmills. Hydropower harnesses the energy of fast-moving or falling water for the use of communities. An example of hydropower would be Niagara Falls, where the fast-moving water flows through a pope that pushes a turbine to generate electricity. With fast-moving rivers and streams, the flow of the water is enough to power the turbine and send the energy to a turbine. For hydropower plants like The Hoover Dam, water is held in a reservoir and released as a waterfall as needed to generate power.
Biomass comes from organic material, such as plants and animals. Wood, agriculture, garbage, animal waste, and alcohol fuels are examples of biomass sources. Biomass can be further converted into biogas and biofuel, depending on what is done with it. For example, compost can be burned as a source of energy, or left to decompose and form biogas. Ethanol biofuel can be formed by letting corn or sugar ferment into alcohol, which can then be used as power. Human and animal waste can be sent through digesters to produce biogas, and animal & plant fat can be used for biogas. The most common source of biomass energy, however, is simply burning wood. Garbage from landfills can be sent to waste-to-energy plants, where it is processed and organic matter is burned for energy. Biomass energy has a smaller impact on the environment than fossil fuels in addition to eliminating waste that would otherwise be left to rot. Waste-to-energy operations reduce the amount of garbage in a landfill by an average of 87%.
As renewable energy becomes more popular among residents, communities that provide aggregation programs are looking for ways to include renewable energy options. Trebel has developed relationships with multiple suppliers that can offer 100% renewable energy (or a percentage of renewable energy) to offset the carbon footprint of the community. This can be accomplished by using renewable sources for the aggregation rate, or alternately, by offering a separate opt-in program with renewable options. As solar and wind become more viable, and less expensive, communities are looking to get ahead of the curve. Trebel has the renewable energy expertise to help meet your community’s renewable energy needs.
If you are interested in putting a solar system on your home, business, or in the community we have the expertise and contacts to manage that process for you as well. By utilizing renewable energy options, you can gain peace of mind by reducing your impact on the environment to the benefit of future generations.