Renewable energy development is the advancement of methods for using sources of energy that are replenished naturally. As such, renewable energies are natural resources that do not run out. These include sun, wind, wave and tidal, and geothermal energy.
Most types of renewable energy sources originate from the power of the sun. One important exception to this is geothermal renewable energy, which relies on heat produced from deep in the center of the earth. Renewable energy development from geothermal sources is usually produced in geothermal plants that are built on the edges of tectonic plates. These locations are places where high temperature matter comes much closer to the surface of the earth than is usually the case.
Geothermal renewable energy development has historically concentrated on using the heat from the earth directly for heating residential and commercial buildings. Another common application of this energy source has been in producing hot water. Electricity can also be generated in geothermal plants, although this is a less efficient use of geothermal energy.
There are a number of different renewable energy resources that originate from solar energy. Probably the ones with the strongest renewable energy development focus are solar power itself, wind power, and hydroelectricity. Each of these sources of power has been harnessed by humans in basic forms for thousands of years.
The earliest forms of solar energy were often passive approaches, such as building houses to face south in order to maximize the benefits of light and warmth. Greenhouses are an important application in agriculture, converting solar power into heat and enabling the cultivation of crops not suited to the local environment. Modern solar renewable energy development includes technology that is much more complex. Photovoltaic cells are used to directly trap sunlight and convert it to electricity. This technological development has enabled solar electricity to be produced on a commercial scale.
Wind energy was historically used in ancient times to power sail boats, and windmills were used for grinding wheat to produce flour. Similarly, the energy from flowing water was also used for flour production, by means of water mills. Modern renewable energy development has greatly enhanced man’s ability to use both wind and water energy. Hydroelectricity is generated on a large scale by power plants built on large rivers, and large windmill farms generate commercially viable amounts of electricity. Governments in many countries encourage this kind of renewable energy development by means of incentives such as renewable energy credits.