Renewable energy is any type of energy generated from sources that are naturally replenished, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. As the supply of fossil fuels diminish and the negative effects of global climate change are measured, the need for clean renewable energy sources has become evident.
- Solar power is energy derived from the sun. The sun emits enough energy every day to satisfy global power demands for over a year and technology has been available to harness some of this energy for decades. The two most common types of solar power systems are solar thermal, which directly captures heat, and photovoltaic systems (PV), which converts energy from the sun into electricity.Solar thermal technologies, like concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, can be used on a large scale with solar heated materials powering steam turbines. On a smaller scale, solar hot-water systems provide residential hot water. PV systems are easily scalable and can be mounted on residential rooftops or in large arrays used by utilities.The biggest challenge for the solar power industry is developing ways to store excess power, because utilities cannot rely on solar energy for baseline demand or for nighttime usage.
- Wind power is well suited to areas where wind blows steadily all day. Using wind turbines to capture that energy is fairly straightforward; once a wind turbine is in place, it requires no energy, no water and produces no greenhouse gases.As of 2007, only 1% of electricity in the U.S. was supplied by wind power; however, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the United States. has the potential to produce 20% of its electricity through wind power.
- Geothermal energy uses heat radiating from the molten lava at the Earth's core through cracks in the crust. When this heat meets ground water, steam is instantly created, which can be harnessed and used to generate electricity. U.S. regions with the best potential to generate large-scale geothermal energy are Alaska, Hawaii and the Western Continental U.S. Geothermal heat pumps rely on a different form of geothermal energy.This technology uses the relatively constant temperature of the ground below the frost line as a heat exchange to heat or cool buildings; it can be used in all types of climates and sized for commercial or residential use.
- Hydropower is created by the kinetic energy of water in motion. Hydroelectric energy is electricity produced by the force of falling water, typically over a dam. Marine energy, which is derived from the motion of waves and tides, is the largest source of untapped renewable energy. The technology to harness marine energy is still in the early stages of development, but many development projects are in place around the world to test both wave energy and tidal energy generators.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only 7% of all energy consumed by Americans in 2008 came from renewable sources. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, passed in February 2009, allocated $17 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and $4 billion in loan guarantees for the renewable energy providers. The Act plans to weatherize 75% of federal buildings and more than one million private homes throughout the country.
New York State
New York's residents, corporations and state government are making significant progress toward adopting renewable energy sources. In January 2010, the New York Power Authority announced a plan to install up to 100 megawatts of PV systems across the state on a variety of schools and public buildings. Currently, New York ranks 8th in wind energy production in the United States, with 1,274 megawatts of current capacity and many new projects under construction. New York's homeowners are increasingly installing geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool their homes.
In 2008, to help the state combat the dangers caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the NYLCV Education Fund launched its Powering the Future campaign, which included three policy forums focusing on solar, wind, and nuclear power. The NYLCVEF's 2010 New York State Policy Agenda calls upon New York State to build the foundation for a clean energy future by incentivizing energy conservation, such as the use of renewable energy sources, and creating a robust solar market in the state by passing solar credit legislation.
> How Geothermal Energy Works - Union of Concerned Scientists
> NYLCV Charting a Course for a Carbon Neutral New York State report
> NYLCVEF Energy Portal
> Recovery Act
> Wind Energy Potential by State - American Wind Energy Association