Renewable energy has become a source of concern for many people throughout the world. They are becoming concerned not only about the damage fossil fuels do to our environment but also the depletion of those non-renewable energy sources. As a result more companies are choosing to do their part in creating a safer environment and assuring we have enough energy to maintain the future of the world.
It’s important for companies to do their part because of several reasons. First, the industrial sector is one which is often most guilty of pollution and energy consumption. Thus, when they do what they can to change their ways it can make a huge impact on the environment. Some companies are very vocal with their environmentally friendly practices others do their part in a very quiet way. It’s important for consumers to be aware of the companies who are interested in helping the environment, however.
While there are many more “Green Power Partners” as defined by the EPA, the top five companies are as follows:
1. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ-INTC) A total of 51% (1.4 billion KWh) comes from clean energy sources.
2. Kohl’s Department Stores (NYSE-KSS) All of its electricity (1.3 billion KWh) are derived from clean energy.
3. Pepsi Co (NYSE-PEP) All electricity (1.2 billion KWh) is derived from clean energy sources.
4. Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ-WFM) 105% (790 million KWh) of the electricity it uses come from sources of green power.
5. City of Houston, Texas 34% (438 million KWh) of its electricity is derived from clean energy and green power.
Concerns about the future of our environment are causing many companies to look into renewable energy sources. Utility companies in many areas are making concentrated efforts to use renewable energy sources for the power they provide to customers.
They are building new power plants that operate on solar or wind power instead of fossil fuels. While this conversion is quite expensive to undergo, it will provide clean and inexpensive power sources when the projects are completed.
Of course, the government offers many grants and financial options for companies interested in converting. This fact alone can help renewable energy projects continue to grow in number and in success. After all, it only makes sense for companies to convert their operations to renewable energy processes if they will be reimbursed or even compensated by the government for doing so.
In these cases, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. The world benefits and the company can benefit as well. They don’t have to pay for conversion, they can do their part and they often get tax credits for agreeing to do so.
Other companies are taking the initiative to convert to solar or wind power as well. These changes will not affect the way they operate; they simply need to convert their present equipment to accommodate these renewable energy sources.
Colorado State University is working with experts in Denver to develop new and innovative ways to use wind energy. These efforts will not be overnight by any means but they will have a definite effect on the future of our world and its current non-renewable energy sources. There are many other efforts currently in the planning stages throughout the world.
While most of us don’t think of it, trash and solid waste can be converted into renewal energy. After all, who could think trash and solid waste would be useful for anything but filling up garbage dumps? While it may seem a little unusual, these sources are readily available and do not have an affect on the environment if they are properly controlled.
Unlike fossil fuels, there is no need to worry about depleting the earth’s natural resources because there will always be trash and solid waste to burn for the creation of energy. Creating energy from these abundant materials not only provides another source of renewable energy but also reduces the amount of trash and solid waste in our environment. Of course, those in rural areas have been using trash as energy for years. But, this new push is looking more toward larger scale energy from trash and solid waste.
It’s essential when burning trash or solid waste for energy to make sure you are careful not to burn toxic waste and to ascertain the fumes do not escape into the air and cause environmental issues. Plants that make energy from these sources (called MSW plants) are heavily controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency and must follow strict guidelines during the creation of energy.
As more sources of renewable energy develop more provisions will be necessary for plants that generate energy from trash and solid waste. Of course, there also may be more grants and financial reimbursements from the government for those who choose to go into the trash or solid waste energy field coming soon.
Farmers are at the forefront of demanding more federal assistance for the practice of sustainable agriculture. In the past they were relatively alone in their cause, but lately more and more agriculturally minded go-green environmentalists are joining their cause. Switching over to sustainable agriculture is no longer a cause reserved for a niche, but instead now also includes a number of chefs, economists and agriculturists with a vested interest in seeing sustainable agriculture become a reality sooner rather than later.
The driving force behind the sustainable agriculture movement is the need for a boost in the economic well being of rural economies, while at the same time acknowledging natural resources are not endless. This calls for a different treatment of animals, cultivation of the soil so as to preserve it and the natural infusion of biological agents which will nourish and enrich the earth. In a very real way, this already includes a lot of the suggestions environmentally conscious individuals have made for years.
Although there are some in rural communities who are eyeing the clamor for sustainable agriculture with a bit of suspicion (after all, it does require a change in the way business is being done) those who are on the forefront of the movement say it is time to get away from the status quo. Organic food production, healthier means of farming, the use of sustainable energy, conservation of water and a more natural means of storing the goods all go into the sustainable agriculture movement.
The nation’s main laboratory for renewable energy is The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The lab focuses on energy efficient research and development and has a mission to stay focused on advancing the U.S. Department of Energy's goals for America.
All researchers at the facility support the market’s objectives to fast forward research from being simply scientific in nature to being market-viable as alternative energy solutions for all of America. The NREL’s research and technology development areas focus on the understanding of renewable resources, the conversion of the renewable resources to electricity/fuel and the manner of being able to use this energy in homes, buildings and automobiles.
The research and development areas of NREL specialize in renewable electricity, renewable fuel, integrated energy system engineering and strategic energy analysis. The teams of researchers and developers have won 42 R&D 100 awards, showing how they are well respected in their field of study.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratories first opened in 1977 and was called the Solar Energy Research Institute. In September 1991, it was designated as the national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The institute’s name change occurred during this transition.
It remains the principle research lab and facility for the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In addition, it works with the Office of Science and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The entire National Renewable Energy Laboratories is managed by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
Should there be a discussion of old school energy policy – conservation – saving the forests in the 19th century and also the use of at-home means of cutting back? In the past it was considered the only feasible means of reducing a household’s energy intake.
Unfortunately, even a momentary lapse in dedication to the cause results in a reneging on the actual energy savings; what is more, in some cases a homeowner who is not entirely well versed in old school energy policy – conservation – saving the forests in the 19th century, and green living, actually may do more harm than good.
To this end, old school energy policy is no longer considered the only form of reliable conservation, and saving the forests in the 19th century is now recognized as a national problem rather than simply a neighborhood issue.
This necessitates the recognition and introduction of renewable power options, such as solar, wind, biofuel and of course also hydroelectric power. It is only when sufficient funds may be allocated to this venture, and of course 20th century forest concerns are combined with these issues, that change can have a chance of actually becoming popular enough to take a more permanent hold.
The United States is full of renewable resources within the geographical environment of the land. Some states are doing a better job than others tapping into these resources and using them to their environmental advantage.
Some experts feel politics has a big impact on which states excel in this area and which fail. With commitment from political leaders, it appears states are moving to the forefront of the issue and gaining great success. Here is a list of the top 5 states in the US for renewable energy use.
1) California: With an environmentally conscious leader (Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) at the forefront of this large state, California is emerging as the undeclared winner in the renewable energy race. The state also has the most aggressive approach to greenhouse-gas reduction goals when compared to all other states in America.
2) Texas: This state contains the world’s biggest wind farm which can generate more electricity from wind than any other state in America. Thus, they come in as a close second due to their amazing wind power capabilities.
3) Massachusetts: With Boston being of the “greenest” cities in America, this state is making good use of environmental incentives.
4) Colorado: One major reason why Colorado is coming into the top states regarding renewable energy is because of Vestas Wind Systems. This company has opened four new plants in the state and is known for being the world's leading supplier of wind turbines.
5) New Jersey: Due to a sturdy public-private partnership and an administration ran by environmentally friend Governor Jon Corzine, New Jersey is the solar state of America.
The idea of nuclear energy can be a difficult concept to grasp. However, the basics of getting electricity from nuclear energy can be simplified for better understanding. Basically, nuclear energy is the specific energy which is located in the core (the nucleus) of an atom.
Most people remember learning how atoms are the tiny particles of matter which make up all things in the universe. The energy found in the core (nuclear energy) can be utilized as electricity, if it’s released properly.
There are two main ways to release energy from atoms: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. During nuclear fusion, the energy is released because atoms are combined or fused together (forming a larger atom). The sun produces energy with nuclear fusion processes.
Nuclear fission is the process of splitting atoms apart to form smaller atoms, which also releases energy. This type of energy release is used at nuclear power plants to produce electricity.
About 19 percent of the American electricity is generated at nuclear power plants. According to a study done in 2007, there are 66 nuclear power plants in the United States. Traditional power plants use the burning of fuel to produce energy.
However, nuclear power plants use any heat given off during nuclear fission as their “fuel” for power. The fission process takes place in the power plant’s reactor.
Most environmentalists are very interested in converting all power plants to nuclear power plants, as the process is more Earth-friendly. It is expected many power plants will convert to nuclear power in the next fifteen years, as a result.
We hear alot about the advantages of renewable energy sources, but not the advantages of non-renewable energy. The main advantages of non-renewable energy pertain to cost and availability. Renewable sources are often not able to compete with the cost and availability of non-renewable energy sources at this time.
When you go car shopping, you may realize how non-renewable sources of energy are much more available. You may long to examine cars which run off of battery power, solar power or even electricity. It won't be easy to find such a vehicle at the price you want to pay.
You might not want to purchace the car because it is less efficient, might not go far, it is slow, or it costs more. Non-renewable energy sources are readily available and do not put a dent in most Americans' budgets.
Non-renewable energy sources have many disavantages. When they are all gone, they are gone for all time. It is impossible that man is capable of replacing coal, natural gas, or even oil.
In addition, the mining of these items can be devastating on the environment. When they are burned, they can emit toxic fumes which can be damaging to the Earth, as well. It?s expected within the next fifteen years, renewable energy will be more available and less costly to the average American. Until then, we can expect the market to continue to be full of non-renewable energy, however.
In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was enacted, creating a renewable energy grant program. The program is overseen by the United States Department of Treasury, offering a cash grant in lieu of the previous federal business energy investment tax credit.
In July 2009, documents became available that detailed all deadlines for these new renewable energy grants. The United States Department of Treasury released terms, conditions of the grants and a sample application. Those who wish to apply will be able to undergo an initial online application process.
The solar grant equals 30% of the base of a property, particularly for solar energy. The property must be eligible and include equipment which uses solar energy for the generation of electricity to heat or cool a structure. Solar pool-heating systems are not eligible however hybrid solar lighting systems may be eligible.
The fuel cells grant is equal to 30% of the basis of property for the fuel cells. There is a cap of $1,500 per kilowatt in capacity for this grant.
The small wind turbine grants equal out to 30% of the particular property. These include turbines up to 100 kilowatt in capacity.
There are also grants for qualified facilities, geothermal heat pumps, micro-turbines and combined heat and power systems. Only tax-paying entities are eligible for the grants, so federal, state, and local governments, non-profits, cooperative electric companies, and qualified energy tax credit bond lenders are not eligible.