From waves to wood chips to grass, the renewable energy era has been all about generating power from unlikely sources. A Washington, D.C., utility has taken this trend one step further and is harnessing power from sewage effluent.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. led the world in wind energy production in 2015. The U.S. produced 190 million megawatt-hours (MWh) from wind energy. That’s enough to power about 17.5 million typical U.S. homes.
In the fight against climate change, wind and solar power have always held the greatest promise. Despite their ability to offer clean and plentiful electricity, the high cost of installation and the variable nature of their generation have always been a challenge.
In the drama of renewable energy, no power source has performed better in recent years than solar. Despite improvements in efficiency and lower costs, the future of solar power is still uncertain, and as one researcher suggests, its growth could be its own worst enemy.
In the race to gain more power from clean and renewable sources, government plays a major role. Recently, Sweden's government positioned itself as a world leader when it announced that it would transition to 100 percent renewables.
Renewable power still has a ways to go before it can displace fossil fuels, but the efforts to boost green power generation are still making progress. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), renewable power made up most of the newly installed capacity so far this year.
The high price of renewables relative to traditional fuel sources is their biggest drawback. Although the alternative-energy industry has made great strides in bringing down upfront costs, the perception remains that it is a long way from parity with fossil fuels.
When conjuring images of renewable energy, hydropower is typically not the first thing that comes to mind. That’s usually wind, solar or geothermal. Further eroding hydro’s place, it wasn’t long ago that environmental opposition brought new dam construction to a halt.
When it comes to policymaking in the energy arena, few decisions are going to make everyone happy, especially when the issue is controversial. Clean air is no exception, and the Obama administration waded into a policy knot when it took on the problem of power-plant emissions.
It is no coincidence that renewable industries have evolved in tandem with the digital economy. They share many qualities that have helped define their success, including an innovative and socially conscious form of inclusiveness that empowers even the most marginalized among us.
Austin, Texas, has an aggressive plan for alternative energy. The “Austin Energy Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2025” sets the city’s goal of sourcing 55 percent of its energy from renewables by the end of the plan’s term.
Electrical contractors interested in getting involved in customer solar installations and maintenance (residential, retail, commercial, governmental and industrial) may look at the “official” numbers on solar generation and conclude that, while some opportunities may exist, they are not appealing en