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Renewable Electricity Information

What is renewable electricity? The term refers to electrical energy generated from a renewable power source. That means a source of energy that regenerates automatically, or can be reproduced at the same speed at which it is consumed.

Typically, renewable electricity requires a large initial investment. Payoffs appear in the long run, in terms of both personal finance and environmental protection. An average household of four can prevent the annual emission of 83,000 pounds of carbon dioxide just by switching from fossil fuels to a renewable source.

Types of Renewable Electricity

The fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the United States (and particularly in Texas!) are solar panels and wind turbines.

Solar power systems use photovoltaic panels to gather energy from the sun. This energy is stored in a battery which can output usable electricity. Solar panel kits come in many sizes, and can be placed on roofs, poles, or machines.

Windmills use airflow to move blades, which rotate a turbine. The turbine uses magnets to convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy, which also becomes usable in a normal electrical system.

Other sources of green electricity include:

• Hydroelectric power, which gains energy from water under the influence of gravity.
• Geothermal power, which takes advantage of the constant warmth emanating from the Earth’s core.
• Biomass, a less completely renewable resource, which is produced and then consumed for energy. Making biomass renewable involves using organic matter that, unlike fossil fuels, can be easily reproduced. Ethanol fuel, which is made from normal agricultural crops, falls within this category even though expanding production scale may be difficult.

The Renewable Electricity Market

Solar and wind electricity prices may still be slightly higher than prices for electricity from other sources. Nevertheless, the gap is shrinking as technology improves and fossil fuels become more scarce—in some places, the price difference has already leveled out.

Putting resources into renewable energy seems to be a better idea than ever. The federal government seems to think so; that’s why it offers a 30% renewable electricity credit for projects undertaken independently.

Households unable to invest in their own green technologies can still participate in the development of renewable electricity. If you enter your zip code in the box above, you’ll see a list of providers that will deliver renewable electricity through your existing power lines.

Due to increasing deregulation of the electricity market, consumers can often choose to buy renewable electricity even if they are saddled with a particular local utility. They can demand that their utility supply them with electricity from a source of their choice, and this source can be a producer or a distributer of pure renewable electricity. Mixed options, which might be cheaper, are also available.

The Cutting Edge

Today, the field of renewable energy is full of exciting developments. For instance:

• Seaweeds such as kelp may be harvested as a new source of biofuel energy.

• UCSD researchers have developed a software program that predicts fluctuations in output from solar power systems based on cloud cover. This simple development will help grid managers to allocate electricity effectively.

• Many powerful companies like see investment in renewable energy as a crucial element of their corporate citizenship. Google has achieved its goal of carbon neutrality by purchasing electrical output from windmills.