Our world is dependent on fossil fuels, and everything from turning on your house lights to turning on your car depends on them. But resources are running out and demand is growing, creating a threat to our way of life. Renewable energy sources are key to maintaining our way of life and reducing the need for fossil fuels.
What are fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels are a type of energy formed over hundreds of millions of years from the decomposition of once-living organisms. Energy sources like coal, gas, and oil are created as the Earth pressurizes these remains, and then they are extracted through various methods to be used as the main source of the world’s energy.
Most of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels, but consumption far exceeds the creation of these resources and they are only found in specific geographic locations around the world. Because of the finite supply and increasing demand, as well as accessibility restrictions, the need for renewable energy is critical to the stability of society.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy refers to sources of energy that will never run out. Examples of renewable energy that are currently being used and developed include wind, water, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy.
Wind is created from the Sun heating the earth unevenly, causing the movement of air over the surface. The wind is obviously not a tangible object with a limited amount, so harnessing its energy is a great alternative to fossil fuels. This is done by using large turbines with rotating blades that spin in the wind and turn an electricity generator to make power.
Energy harnessed from water is called hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity is generated from dams that are placed downstream from rivers that are running to the sea. These dams interrupt their flow so that reservoirs are formed, which must drain through water turbines that turn the kinetic energy from the flow of water into electricity.
Solar energy refers to energy from the sun. We harness energy from the sun’s heat and light to create energy. Through solar cells, sunlight is converted to electricity. This type of solar power is call active solar power. Through solar panels and other thermal-powered materials, the heat from the sun is absorbed and stored to heat water or buildings as what is called passive solar energy.
It should be noted that both the wind and flow of water depend on the sun as well and so are indirectly sources of solar energy, but generally the terms ‘solar energy’ or ‘solar power’ refer to energy directly from the sun.
The center of our planet is very, very hot, and this heat can also be harnessed and used as energy. Heat pumps and other technology are used to shoot cold water down into these hot layers of the earth and then pumped back up to the surface once they are heated.
The burning of crops or animal waste to create energy sources is known as bioenergy, or biomass. These biofuels are less abundant than other types of renewable energy sources, but the burning of biofuels is cleaner than fossil fuels.
Why should we use renewable energy?
Most people are aware of the crisis with depleting sources of fossil fuels, but with the gas pumps still flowing and the electric bill still coming every month it can be hard to feel a sense of urgency to make the switch to renewable energy sources. But making an effort to reduce our personal dependence on fossil fuels has several benefits, both immediate and long-term.
Less greenhouse gas emissions
The burning of fossil fuels emits dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals into the air that destroy the ozone layer and create harmful air and water pollution.Several health conditions have been linked to the water and air pollution created by greenhouse gas emissions, including respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease.
Less sick days and healthcare costs
Many school districts in the United States must send children home or alert them to stay home on days of poor air quality because of pollution. With the use of renewable energy and less burning of fossil fuels, children and adults will take fewer sick days and require less doctor and hospitalization for air-pollution-related sickness.
Large and essentially endless supply
Unlike coal and oil, renewable energy is found everywhere, so the prices will not be affected by demand or politics. It won’t have to be imported, which means the money spent on renewable energy can be recirculated locally to improve local economies.
How can we start using renewable energy?
So how can you start making the switch to renewable energy sources? Start by researching companies that are investing in renewable energy sources, like ACN Inc, and consider switching to support the shift away from fossil fuels. You could also have solar panels installed on your own home to generate your own solar power, and of course, take other environmentally-friendly options such as carpooling or biking to work and recycling can also contribute to the cause for a healthier, more sustainable world.