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A renewable energy project is any undertaking involving the use of natural resources for the purpose of generating energy that is naturally replenished. Examples of renewable energy projects can include the utilization of geothermal heat, ocean waves, sunlight and wind. Generally, a project is initiated through a company or government. One factor that makes renewable energy projects cost-effective is the fact that, while the up-front cost can be considerable, the long-term stability of the energy source is generally guaranteed. While fossil fuels and nuclear energy are essentially finite sources of power, renewable energy will last as long as the Earth remains stable.
One example, wind power, is one of the fastest growing renewable energy project sectors in the energy economy of the 21st century. According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network, wind power grew at a 30 percent annual rate during the first part of the century, most notably in Europe and the United States. Most renewable energy projects in the wind power sector involve the installation of large-scale wind farms that transmit electricity to power grids. Private companies can also install these facilities and sell the power to the grid for a profit.
Photovoltaic power stations, also known as large-scale solar projects, are also a major renewable energy project. These facilities generally utilize large solar arrays assembled with inverters to generate utility-scale electricity. Projects can be constructed on a large scale covering vast areas of land. Photovoltaic power stations can be constructed worldwide, but are far more efficient in areas with long days of sunlight.
Unlike photovoltaic power stations, geothermal power plants are a renewable energy project that can't be constructed in all locations. In order for geothermal projects to be undertaken, the location must produce strong levels of heat from underground formations. Geothermal power plants exploit large emissions of superheated wells. As such, the facilities can be complex to construct, especially for long-term usage.
Like each of these large projects, small-scale renewable energy projects can also be constructed throughout the world. These projects are generally applications designed for individual use on a household or small city level. Private individuals most commonly utilize solar panels and small wind turbines to power facilities. Entrepreneurs can even use the extra power generated to sell back to the power grid, offsetting the energy consumption of others and making money in the process.