What is Renewable Energy Power?

Britt Archer

Renewable energy power is energy that is gathered from sources that naturally replenish themselves, including sunlight, water, wind and geothermal heat. Renewable energy can be used on a large scale, such as government projects that create hydroelectric dams, or it can be a private, off-grid use to power homes and businesses. Of all the types of renewable energy power, solar panels and other mechanisms to convert sunlight into renewable energies are the most common, followed by wind-powered turbine production and hydroelectric power. Geothermal renewable energy is not common for large-scale use, but it is most often used by homeowners who want to reduce their impact on the environment.

A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.
A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.

Renewable energy credits, sometimes known as “green tags” or “tradable renewable credits,” are offered to suppliers of renewable energy power. These certificates offer proof that one megawatt hour of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source. Often offered by the government or power companies themselves, they can be sold by the holder at a variable price, depending upon geographic location and the amount of renewable energy power produced. They range in price from $5 US Dollars (USD) to $90 USD, with $20 USD being the average price. While in some cases the use of renewable energy power is voluntary, some regions are required to supply a portion of their energy needs through renewable energy power, with these credits providing proof of compliance.

Hybrid cars are a step towards transportation that uses renewable energy.
Hybrid cars are a step towards transportation that uses renewable energy.

Renewable energy power is often viewed as a competitor to nuclear power, which naturally has low carbon emissions and is generally considered better for the environment than other sources. Uranium, a key component in nuclear power generation, is sometimes referred to as a renewable energy resource, and the debate rages on as to whether nuclear plants can be considered sources of renewable energy power. While several organizations and politicians have asserted that nuclear power is a renewable energy source, the United States Department of Energy does not recognize it as such. Technically, there is not an inexhaustible supply of uranium, but for energy needs, there is a more than adequate supply. There are also health concerns about nuclear power plants, with many people preferring not to live near them.

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Hydroelectric power generating stations like the Hoover Dam generate electricity without burning fossil fuels.
Hydroelectric power generating stations like the Hoover Dam generate electricity without burning fossil fuels.

Renewable energy power does not just apply to home heating and cooling needs. Biofuels and hybrid cars are often considered a step toward renewable energy use in transportation, and a step away from the use of fossil fuels to power automobiles. Researchers are working on hydrogen fuel cells, which would power cars more efficiently, and perhaps one day the technology could be used for smaller batteries, such as those used in a flashlight.

A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.
A ship going through a lock at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, a source of renewable energy.
Renewable energy power is usually viewed as a competitor to nuclear power.
Renewable energy power is usually viewed as a competitor to nuclear power.
Solar panels are one of the most common forms of renewable energy power.
Solar panels are one of the most common forms of renewable energy power.

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