An overview of renewable energy and their price trends

4 months 1 day 16 hours ago Tuesday, September 17 2019 Sep 17, 2019 Tuesday, September 17, 2019 10:15:00 PM CDT September 17, 2019 in Climate
By: Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist
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We recently discussed fossil fuels. Now, let's get an overview of renewable energy. 

One stat for you, according to NOAA, at least three quarters of the climate change we are experiencing today and will experience is due to an energy system that is reliable on fossil energy.

So, if fossil fuels are non-renewable forms of energy, what is renewable energy?

We have options. The most widely known and used forms of renewable energy are solar and wind. I have no doubt you have seen both solar panels and wind turbines.

Fun fact, most wind turbine wings are 120 feet long and depending on wind speeds they turn at rates between 10 to 20 revolutions per minute. Each rotation of the turbine will create electricity, which is then stored and sent off to be used. In fact, most renewable energy is created by turning turbines.

Hydroelectric energy is also created this way as flowing water turns turbines. Geothermal energy is created when heat from within the earth is used to rotate a turbine.

Nuclear energy does the same, creating immense heat to rotate turbines…however because it uses Uranium to do so, it is technically considered nonrenewable.

Meanwhile, biomass, which is actually a few different things from garbage to wood to plants to landfill gas to alcohol fuels can do a multitude of things from turning turbines to being turned into liquid such as ethanol and biodiesel.

And of course, solar, one of the leading renewable resources, does not spin a turbine, but instead uses heat from the Sun as energy.

Now, there are pros and cons to all energy production because every source of energy will leave a footprint. Sources like solar, wind, and hydro have effects on the environment, but they are mostly local and can be managed. But fossil fuels have a global impact, lasting for centuries, which will destabilize the entire planet if we don't act soon. No other energy source can do that.

That’s a brief overview of renewables; in the coming weeks and months I will be digging into each energy source individually.

You may be wondering, we have plenty of opportunity for renewable recourses…why aren’t we using more of them?

One common thought is they are too expensive. However, this isn’t exactly true anymore.

In just the past 9 years, the cost of generating wind energy has gone down 69% while the cost of generating solar energy has gone down 88%.

In fact, depending on the situation, wind and solar energy can be cheaper to produce than coal…without any of the harmful worldwide effects that will last for generations.

If you are interested in creating renewable energy for your home or business, check with your local providers. The City of Columbia offers rebates and loans, and the Federal Government is offering 30% tax credits until 2020. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.

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