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18: Renewable Energy

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    Chapter Hook

    City water pipes, an unlikely place to be a source electricity. Yet, Portland Oregon has decided to set up hydroelectric turbines in the cities drinking water pipes. This provides around the clock local energy that doesn’t affect natural waterways as classic hydroelectric turbines do. This setup is the first of its kind in the United States and truly exemplifies the objectives that renewable energies aspire to achieve.

    Water turbine
    Figure \(\PageIndex{a}\): Water turbine example. Image by Pixabay (Public Domain)

    • 18.1: Renewable Energy History and Consumption
      Renewable energy resources are regenerated on short time scales and include wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biofuels. While the use of renewable energy has increased over the years, it still accounts for only about 11% of total energy use globally and in the United States.
    • 18.2: Wind Energy
      Wind energy is harnessed into electricity when wind spins the blades of a wind turbine, powering a generator. While wind energy creates jobs, is relatively inexpensive, and generates minimal pollution, it is intermittent. Additionally, some find the the sight and sound of them off-putting.
    • 19.3: Solar Energy
      Solar energy comes from the sun and can be used for lighting, heating, and electricity. Advantages of using solar energy are that it generates few air pollutants and contributes little to climate change; however, cost and limitations in battery capacity are disadvantages.
    • 18.4: Geothermal Energy
      Geothermal energy refers to heat from deep within the Earth. It can be used to generate electricity. Additionally, cool temperatures underground (close to the surface) can directly to heat or cool buildings. While it is reliable and generates minimal air pollution, building geothermal power plants is costly and limited to specific locations.
    • 18.5: Hydropower
      Hydropower (hydroelectric energy) is the energy of movement in water. Dams and reservoirs are a common use of hydropower. The filling of reservoirs destroys terrestrial habitat, which decompose to release methane. However, the operation of hydroelectric power plants does not release air pollutants. Smaller run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants have minimal environmental impact.
    • 18.6: Biofuels (Biomass Energy)
      Biofuels contain energy from organisms. There are many forms of biofuels, including trash, animal waste, plants and their products, and wood. Some biofuel uses are more sustainable than others, particularly those that use materials that would otherwise be discarded. Biofuels are carbon neutral, but burning them does pollute the air.
    • 18.7: Energy Conservation
      Energy conservation refers to reducing energy waste and increasing efficiency. This can involve behaviors or technologies. Some have no cost, but others require financial investment.
    • 18.8: Data Dive- Global Renewable Energy Generation
    • 18.9: Review


    Modified by Rachel Schleiger (CC-BY-NC).

    This page titled 18: Renewable Energy is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha and Rachel Schleiger (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .