While electricity did not exist in ancient times, all people groups still had ways to create energy that would make heat, form light, and move large items. Fires warmed homes and shed light while water-powered mills made grain, and steam powered locomotives.
Today, the world continues to rely on some of these same ancient energy sources, but researchers have also discovered a variety of new and exciting renewable and non-renewable energy sources.
The questions now are: What is the most efficient energy source? Which is the easiest to harvest? And, more crucially, which will provide adequate power without harming the environment?
Read on to find out.
Fossil fuels comprise several energy sources, including gas, coal, and oil. These are all examples of non-renewable energy sources because they come from compacted materials beneath the surface of the earth. While there are still sufficient supplies of fossil fuels remaining to last for many years, if used wisely, they will not last forever. Therefore, researchers are continually looking for new forms of efficient, renewable energy that could be widely available.
One problem with fossil fuels is that they release carbon monoxide when burned for energy. This is a significant source of pollution, and one of the world’s greatest threats. If used at the current rate of consumption, fossil fuel supplies could run out in less than 100 years.
The good news about fossil fuels is that they are easy to use, and much of the world currently runs on them, making them the simple choice for the average home or business.
Geothermal energy is a much more hidden energy source about which many people have not heard. This energy source comes from the bubbling heat deep within the surface of the earth. In fact, the earth’s core is approximately as hot as the surface of the sun. Geothermal energy is sourced by drilling deep into the surface of the earth to access highly heated underground water.
Today, geothermal energy accounts for only 0.2 percent of the energy used throughout the world, and it is mainly used for heating buildings and for creating electricity. While it is a very clean fuel that creates almost no greenhouse gases, it is not available throughout the world because geothermal plants can only be built in highly specific areas.
Surprisingly, hydroelectric energy is one of the primary energy sources throughout the United States today. All but two states use this as their primary source of electricity. The term hydroelectricity is the practice of using water to produce energy. This is achieved by moving powerful water from a high point to a low point and harnessing the power it makes along the way. Usually, dams are used to back up the water in a major river.
Hydroelectric operations exist in many municipalities across the country.
There are a few major problems with hydroelectricity, however. First, many of the major dams in the world are swiftly aging and require vast amounts of money for repairs. The Hoover Dam immediately comes to mind. Second, the water used for hydroelectric energy is also needed for human consumption as well, particularly in times of drought. Finally, while hydroelectricity is comparatively cheap to produce, coming in at only $86 per megawatt-hour, its production is not very efficient.
Often ranked as one of the most efficient energy sources, wind energy is harnessed all over the world. Of course, some spots are known as being windier than others, and companies typically make use of these spots by building wind farms filled with turbines there. Wind energy has also been used for hundreds of years. The windmills found extensively in the Netherlands are a great example of this. Today, the simple windmill shape has been improved upon and made into wind turbines, which can be widely found in the Great Plains where the flat terrain doesn’t interfere with high-wind speeds.
The United States gets approximately 6 percent of its energy from wind, but the U.S. Department of Energy hopes to increase this number to20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050. This should help offset the country’s need for dirty fuel types, such as fossil fuels. Wind energy costs only $97 to create 1 megawatt-hour, and it is among the most highly efficient energy sources available today.
Solar energy currently makes up approximately 1 percent of the energy consumption in the United States and can be used to create heat, electricity, and light. This is a readily available source of energy around the world. In fact, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, enough energy from the sun touches the earth in a single hour to power for the entire world for a year. The most common way to trap this energy is through photovoltaic cells, more commonly known as solar panels. These are often placed on rooftops, or on floating barges in wastewater facility plants.
Solar power is quickly growing throughout the United States. Although it is not responsible for much of the energy produced here yet, it is the fastest-growing energy source. Because it does not create any air pollutants, it is an ecologically responsible form of power with a very low carbon footprint. Also, it is a highly efficient energy source with the cost of solar energy having dropped every year since 2009. Over 200 percent of its energy input is retained when solar power is converted into electricity.
Because solar energy is widely available to any home or business owner with a roof, it is undoubtedly one of the most efficient energy options available today. It is a particularly smart choice for those wanting to offset their usage of non-renewable energy sources. Plus, this is an environmentally friendly and efficient source that produces little waste.
San Diego typically sees 266 sunny days every year on average, making this an excellent location for installing solar panels.
THE MOST EFFICIENT SOURCES OF ENERGY
While there are many different types of energy to choose from, it’s clear that renewable energy sources are the most efficient and sustainable for homes and businesses alike. Solar energy is the preferred energy source of choice in Southern California, and there’s no better time to start thinking about adding panels to your property. At HES Solar, we help area businesses and homeowners capitalize on this wealth of sunshine with smart solar panels that can offset electrical costs. These panels are completely self-sufficient once installed and can help individuals save plenty of money every year while saving the planet’s valuable natural resources as well.