Renewable Energy Sources

Biomass Energy

Not a lot of people have heard of biomass energy. Biomass is any material that comes from plants/organisms. Plants create energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Trees, branches, scraps of bark, and recycled paper are biomass sources because they once went through photosynthesis, and they keep that energy even if the plant dies. Manure, garbage, and crops can also be used as biomass energy. These sources can be stored and burned to create heat or generate electricity. Biofuels, made from biomass, are mixed with regular gasoline and can be used in automobiles instead of pure gas. Biofuels release less pollutants into the air than gasoline.

Solar Energy

This source of energy is the largest renewable source used for generating electricity. Solar energy can be captured “actively” or “passively.” Active solar energy uses technology to capture the sun’s rays. The two main types of equipment are photovoltaic cells and mirrors that focus sunlight in a specific spot. These active solar technologies use sunlight to generate electricity, which we use to power lights, heating systems, computers and televisions. Passive solar energy does not use any equipment. Instead, it gets energy from the way sunlight naturally changes throughout the day.  It will take less energy from other sources to heat it.

Wind Energy

Today, we capture the wind’s energy with wind turbines. A turbine has a very tall tower with propeller-like blades at the top. The blades (turned by the wind) turn a generator (located inside the tower), which creates electricity.

Wind farms, or groups of wind turbines, can be found where there are steady and strong winds. In places like the Midwest and along coasts, steady winds can provide cheap, reliable electricity, making generating energy much more efficient. Wind turbines do not burn fuel or emit any pollutants into the air. This is called 'clean' energy. Wind speed changes constantly, making it a very unreliable source. Currently, it cannot be used to provide electricity for all our power needs.