As of 2018, renewable energy made up 26.2% of electricity generation in the world. Experts estimate that this number will rise to 45% by 2040. Solar, wind, and hydro are the types of clean energy that will be the bulk of the increase.
Seeing the effects of using non-renewable energy sources on our environment, the global transition can’t progress fast enough. Coal still generates around 40% of the world’s electricity. This is still a huge contribution to global warming.
What can you do as an individual? For starters, you can consider harnessing renewable energy for your home.
You can go ahead into the future of renewables by installing an energy system that uses the power of solar, wind, and hydro. Learn more about these three below.
Solar power might be the most popular among the other types of clean energy on this list. This is because of the increasing availability of solar panel solutions for homeowners.
In the U.S. alone, solar-powered electricity accounted for almost 40% of all new generating capacity in 2019. The growth was thanks to several factors, including the growing concerns over forest fires in California and the rush to qualify for tax credits before they expire.
The states are going solar in hopes of hitting their target CO2 emission reductions. Homeowners are also spearheading the national growth as they convert to solar for their needs. In the future, this sector is expecting a boost in growth in businesses and governments.
Technologies today use photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). These convert solar radiation (light) into usable forms of energy. Let’s see how you can harness the power of the sun for use in your home.
Homeowners are likely to be more familiar with solar panels. These use PV cells that absorb the energy in the sunlight. This then creates direct current (DC) energy.
What we use in our home, though, is alternating current (AC) energy. To supply that, a solar energy system has an inverter technology to convert DC to AC. It will then supply the energy to your home’s electrical panel for distribution.
The amount of electricity generated by a home solar energy system depends on a number of factors. Aside from the size of the system, you also need to consider how much direct sunlight your property gets.
Most homes connect their solar energy system to the grid. This allows them to pull power whenever they need more energy than what they produce.
If the utility has a net metering policy, homeowners can also get credits. These credits are usable for later bills.
Roof solar panels are the most popular. That’s because the roof is usually the optimal placement for maximum sun exposure. However, some roofs aren’t suitable for installation due to any of the factors below:
– Shade caused by trees or surrounding buildings
– North-facing roof
– Roof condition
Your location also matters because states don’t get an equal amount of sunlight. If you’re in states like California, Nevada, or Texas, you can get the most out of your system.
Still, you can get huge savings even if you’re in other states. It’s best to talk to a professional that will assess your property.
Start with a simple Google search of “solar companies near me.” Then, research which company is the best one for you.
Solar Water Heating
Many people also use solar power in other ways, like using it for providing heat. With the use of solar panels, homes can get hot water and heating all-year-round. Note, however, that these panels don’t generate electricity.
These solar water heaters use the sunlight to heat the water stored in a hot water cylinder. The system then pumps the hot water to your faucets, showerheads, and radiators.
This is an easier alternative to a whole solar energy system. It still gives you savings as it’s cheaper than using electricity or gas to heat your water and home.
Solar Air Conditioning
Did you know there’s a way to use heat to cool your home? Yes, that’s what solar air conditioning does.
It works the same as a solar water heater in that it harnesses the heat from sunlight. It then uses hot water for the air conditioning system. This is a great option for the summer days when the days are longer and hotter.
You might know of wind farms that use turbines to harness the energy generated by the wind. Have you ever thought of owning one for your home?
That’s right, residential wind turbines are also a valid option for homeowners. It’s not as popular, though, and for good reason.
Wind turbines can be pretty noisy, and they’re not pleasing to the eyes. Those are why some HOAs and zoning regulations may not even allow them. It may not also be an attractive option for you because of these reasons.
However, wind power can be of great use to you if you have the privilege of owning turbines. Given that you have enough space on your property (and you’re in a location with a lot of wind), this may even be a better choice than solar.
For one, wind power is more stable. A decent size can also cover all your home’s electricity needs.
In general, you need sustained winds at 10 MPH; at faster speeds, you get more energy. You also need a turbine rated at 5 to 15 kilowatts to get a significant amount of energy.
They also make great partners with solar panels. If you don’t get enough electricity from solar, consider getting a turbine instead of more panels.
Grid-Connected Wind System
Whether your goal is to cover a part of your electricity needs or the whole of them, it’s better to still connect it to the grid. It’s cheaper this way because you can buy a smaller system and still get savings.
Like solar panels, you can still get power from the grid if you need more than what your system generates. You can also expect to get cash back from the utility if you produce more than what you need.
Systems that use flowing water are one of the firsts that humanity has come up with. You might have heard of the water wheel, which has been in use since more than 2,000 years ago. The Greeks used these to grind wheat into flour, reducing the manpower needed.
Now, we can use a similar concept to generate electricity. However, it’s not an option available to many.
You’ll need a form of flowing water on your property first. This alone is a huge setback for most homeowners.
If you’re one of the few who has flowing water nearby, though, then you can consider putting up a hydroelectric system. You can get small-scale ones for residential use. This has some advantages over other types of renewable energy.
Hydropower is more stable. You can get free electricity continuously from flowing water. Note that it needs at least a one-meter vertical drop.
How It Works
You can get these systems from some companies, but you can do it yourself if you have a knack for engineering. You must first divert the water to a pipeline that will direct it to the waterwheel. As the water rotates the wheel, the motion powers the generator to create electricity.
Most hydroelectric systems can generate up to 100 kilowatts of energy. A large home, however, can make do with a 10-kilowatt system.
How to Choose Among the Different Types of Clean Energy
The best types of clean energy are the ones that work for you. Like what we’ve briefly talked about earlier, certain factors affect your eligibility.
Not everyone can use hydroelectric systems, for instance. Most can’t even get benefits from them. A small homeowner, for example, might get better ROI on other investments.
Wind energy is powerful, but many places restrict turbines because of the noise and how it looks. Solar panels might not get enough sunlight depending on your location.
When choosing, make sure to consider all the environmental factors of your property. If you’re eligible for any of the three above, then that’s great. Otherwise, you need to stick with what’s available to you.
Solar panels might be the most accessible to most homeowners across the country. They have different types, like ground-mount systems if roof panels aren’t viable.
Still, it can be a big investment even with the tax incentives. Talk to providers of residential clean energy solutions first. Only then can you have a good idea of what’s best for your family and property.
Go Renewable Now
All types of clean energy solutions can be a big investment. Although tax incentives and a lot of financial options are available for homeowners, many are hesitant to take the plunge because of the prices.
Still, aside from the long-term savings, you’ll also be helping the environment. By going solar, wind, or hydro, you’ll be helping keep the Earth clean one step at a time. Learn more tips like these by checking out the rest of our site.