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Are you looking for green energy solutions to power your off-grid home? You don’t have to be an energy consultant to understand the many benefits of renewable energy or green energy.
So, what is renewable energy and why are renewable energy sources better for the environment? Why use renewable energy sources?
The definition of renewable energy is “energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.” This source of energy is not likely to run out, inasmuch as the sun is likely to stop shining.
How do renewable energy sources affect the environment? Firstly, renewable energy sources don’t cause global warming, which is caused by burning fossil fuels, which are non-renewable energy sources.
Another benefit of renewable energy is that it can be decentralized, that is, it can be produced locally. You can turn whatever is available locally – wind, solar, tidal energy, hydroelectric (water energy), geothermal energy or biomass energy – into electrical energy to power your off-grid home.
That’s why it is so easy to power an off-grid home with green energy.
How much energy comes from renewable sources?
How much energy is produced by renewable energy sources today? In 2018, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation.
While Iceland generates 100% of its electricity from hydroelectric and geothermal sources, 28% of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind, and the government plans to increase this to 50% by 2020.
Any new homes built in California after 2020 will have to be at least partially solar-powered, Google now sources 100% of its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, and Tesla plans to install solar panels on 1100 houses in South Australia, creating the world’s largest virtual solar plant.
What are renewable energy sources?
There are many types of alternative energy available that are an excellent substitute for fossil fuels that cause global warming. But most people have a lot of questions about renewable energy sources.
They usually want to know, are renewable energy sources reliable? Are renewable energy sources cheaper and more cost-effective? Can renewable energy sources replace fossil fuels?
How many renewable energy sources are there? What are some renewable energy sources examples and how do they compare to each other?
Here are the main forms of renewable energy, along with the advantages of using each one.
Solar Energy Solutions
Passive solar building design uses the inherent properties of building materials to absorb the sun’s heat during the day and keep the home warm at night. These construction methods have been used by many civilizations since ancient times.
Passive solar heating and passive cooling — approaches known as natural conditioning — provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel.
Yet, while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved.
In his book, The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling, Dan Chiras, brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts.
Active solar energy solutions like solar hot water systems use a fluid like water to absorb the heat, while photovoltaic (PV) solar panels convert sunlight into usable direct current electricity and are currently installed in over 100 countries.
What are solar energy’s advantages and disadvantages? The benefit of solar energy is that it is in abundant supply and will not run out for millions of years. All we have to do is find more efficient ways to harvest it.
The disadvantage of solar energy is that our current photovoltaic systems don’t convert energy efficiently enough to be considered a feasible energy alternative.
How efficient are renewable energy sources such as solar power systems? Not as much as we would like, unfortunately.
Solar Energy Facts: Roughly 16% of the sunlight that hits the photovoltaic cell is converted into usable energy.
However, there are new breakthroughs happening all the time in the field of solar energy. For example, electrical engineer Aaswath Raman, at the University of California in LA, invented a device that can harness energy from a dark night sky to power an LED, which is immediately practical for lighting and off-grid sensors.
The primary advantage of solar energy is that it is free, and with more efficient models already in production, solar power may become the world’s primary energy source in the future.
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity in the entire world. Here are some wind energy facts.
In 2013, the 168 million megawatts of energy that wind turbines produced resulted in the elimination of 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. As of the end of 2014, the United States wind power capacity was at 65,879 megawatts.
There are many advantages of wind energy as wind turbines do not pollute or contaminate the surrounding area on which they are built. Wind turbines can be located offshore and some countries use wind farms to supply up to 20% of their electricity needs.
Despite these compelling wind power facts, it does have some disadvantages as wind turbines have been blamed for killing birds that fly into them and they can only generate power in windy areas.
Wind Turbine Facts: A single wind turbine can produce enough energy to power 500 households.
Wind turbine companies now produce small wind turbines or home wind turbine kits and wind turbine generators to generate wind power for homes in remote areas or for those who want to experience off-grid living.
If you live in a place where solar and wind energy are both plentiful, you can get a Hybrid Wind Solar Power DIY Off-Grid Kit for power generation around the clock.
It can be used to power your RV’s, cabins, boats, backup power generation, remote power needs, or around the home such as sheds, barns, and outbuildings.
Hydro Energy Systems
Hydro energy is water energy generated by the movement of water, whether it is falling or flowing down a river. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the term hydropower has referred to generating electricity using water.
Flowing water was used in ancient water mills to power various machines, from saws to cranes and lifts. Today you can get a portable micro-hydro generator kit like the WaterLily 12V to generate power from rivers and charge day or night in any weather.
This water turbine kit is perfect for RVers, boaters, campers, hunters, cabin owners and ideal for base camps, emergency prepping and off-grid living.
Hydropower is an efficient and renewable source of power. However, the building of a dam and reservoir can flood catchment areas, resulting in harmful effects on the environment and displacing thousands of people who live there.
Careful consideration is often given to this before a reservoir system is actually built. Micro-hydro power systems don’t have the disadvantages of mega hydropower dams. You can find a micro-hydro generator for sale online.
Portable water turbine kits like the Pelton Water Wheel or the WaterLily 12V can be used in hilly or mountainous areas to generate energy from small rivers and streams.
Biofuels & Biomass Energy
As one of the primary types of renewable energy used all around the world, biofuels are a sustainable energy resource. They are made from biomass, which is biological material from living or once-living organisms. This includes traditional “fossil fuels” such as gasoline.
However, more readily available biological materials, such as wood, corn, hemp and a wide variety of different species of trees can be used to create biofuels. These biomass energy sources can be grown and harvested, making them a sustainable energy resource.
But, burning biomass for energy does have disadvantages as some of them can release toxic fumes when burned, contributing to air pollution. Also, burning biofuels is not a zero-carbon activity and contributes to global warming because of the CO2 released.
If you do plan to use biofuels, like ethanol, in your off-grid home, you can get the eco-friendly Ignis Ventless Bio Ethanol Fireplace Burner. It doesn’t produce any smoke, soot or dangerous gases, has no chimney, no gas or electric lines and is easy to maintain.
Geothermal energy is generated by tapping into the thermal energy or heat at the Earth’s core. This energy is harvested by drilling deep into the ground, then pumping in a heat transfer fluid such as water or steam.
The energy that is transferred up to the surface is converted into usable power. Water-based systems are the most effective, but also have the potential to cause contamination in the nearby water table. This means that great care must be taken to not damage the local water supply.
In the book, DIY: How to Make Cheap Air Conditioning Earth Tubes: Do It Yourself Homemade Air Conditioner, you’ll learn how to use earth tubes (or earth-air tubes) – underground tubes that use geothermal energy – to cool or heat temper the air for your home.
It works like cheap air conditioning because you can build it yourself for several hundred dollars and it is free to run (no electricity needed). Being completely passive, this is a sustainable technology based on designs that are 3,000 years old and still used today around the world to cool homes.
If you live in an area where a volcanic activity or geothermal springs are present, you should get these books on using Geothermal Energy for the home.
- The Smart Guide to Geothermal: How to Harvest Earth’s Free Energy for Heating and Cooling
- Small Geothermal Energy Systems and Geothermal Heat Pumps: Guide for the Do-it-Yourselfer (DIY)
The continuous growth in sustainable energy technology has made energy source alternatives increasingly viable options.
With such positive results and far less impact on the environment, sustainable energy sources are our best energy option when it comes to a long-term energy supply.
How much do renewable energy sources cost?
Are renewable energy sources expensive? In the past, installing solar energy systems used to be extremely expensive because of the cost of photovoltaic cells and also complicated because consumers couldn’t figure out the solar energy marketplace.
Over the last decade, the cost of installing solar energy systems has fallen by 70% and solar energy companies are educating and guiding consumers through the process, making solar energy an incredibly lucrative long-term investment.
For budget-conscious consumers, used solar panels are a great way to save money.
But if spending tens of thousands of dollars on a standard solar panel system is not for you and if you want to be “energy independent” and have the fridge, oven and AC on for just a fraction of your usual monthly spend, check out this simple 3D solar array.
This disaster-proof, recession-proof, drought-proof “backyard power plant” is so simple that you don’t have to be an electrician to build it and it requires no maintenance.
Even better, it doesn’t take up a lot of space because its ingenious vertical design means that it needs only 5% of the surface used in conventional solar panel systems.
This device is the cheapest, easiest way to effortlessly make your own personal power plant and have a perpetual source of cheap green electricity for anything heading your way. And the best part: you won’t need to rely on the power grid anymore.