The renewable energy sector is growing fast. Its strength lies in its diversity and its numerous tangible benefits. This infographic highlights the top energy efficient sources and ways wind, geothermal, solar, hydro and nuclear energy can provide more sustainable solutions for society and reduce our carbon footprint. Our goal is to create awareness around the detrimental impacts of current energy sources while providing materials that offer insights on more sustainable methods.
Renewable energy accounted for a tenth of the total US energy consumption in 2015. Half of this was in the form of electricity. There are several possible sources including geothermal, solar, wind, hydroelectricity and biomass. Biomass has the biggest contribution with 50%, followed by hydroelectricity at 26% and wind at 18%.
Geothermal energy is generated by harnessing the Earth’s natural heat. There is a tremendous amount stored in the planet with the conduction rate pegged at 44.2 terawatts. According to a recent report, the global industry is expected to produce around 18.4 gigawatts by 2021. Wind energy, on the other hand, makes use of airflow to move massive wind turbines. The mechanical action generates electric power. Rows of windmills are usually constructed along coastal areas where there are no barriers to impede flow. This industry could make up 35% of US electrical production by 2050. By that time, experts believe that solar energy could be supplying us with 25% of our energy needs. The estimate is based on combined photovoltaic and solar thermal energy systems. This might not be far off from reality given the continuing improvements in solar technology and the steady decrease in the cost of the panels. Biomass refers to wood, biofuels, waste and other forms of organic matter which are burned to produce energy. The burning process releases carbon emissions but it is still considered renewable because the plants used can be regrown. Generation will rise at a slower pace that the rest from 4.2 quadrillion BTU in 2013 to 5 quadrillion BTU in 2040. Hydroelectric plants use the power of moving water to generate electricity. The conventional method is to build dams to control the flow. This requires massive investment but operation and maintenance costs are quite low. This currently accounts for 7% of US the total US energy production.
To learn more, check out the infographic created by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree program.