What Are Examples of Renewable Energy and Alternative Energy

Natural resources that can slowly replenish themselves, even after some use, are renewable resources. We’ve entered the age of renewable resources and alternative energy. Generating electricity from renewables is now cheaper than ever, moving them from niche alternatives to the fastest-growing energy sources in the country. This group of renewables includes things like ethanol, water, methane gas, natural oils, and thermal energy. In 2022, renewable energy sources made history in the U.S. by producing 21% of all electricity, mainly thanks to hydropower, solar, and wind energy. So, what other kinds of renewable energy are out there? Let’s explore the list.

10 Examples of renewable resources 

Many people think of solar and wind power when they hear “renewable energy,” but everyday resources can also be renewable. The picture of renewable energy isn’t just about solar panels and wind turbines; it’s much broader. We can understand renewable energy by looking at the natural events that produce it and the valuable products (renewable commodities) that come from it. Let’s dive into our top 5 list for each of these categories.

Examples of renewable resources 

  1. Water: It’s essential for life and also powers hydropower plants.
  2. Alcohol: Made from various crops, it’s a key ingredient in biofuels.
  3. Methane Gas: Found naturally in places like manure, it’s a source of biogas.
  4. Natural Oils: From palm, vegetable, sunflower, and soybean oil, these are the basis for biodiesel.
  5. Thermal Energy: Captured from the Earth’s heat or the sun, it’s used in solar thermal and geothermal heat pumps.

List of examples of renewable commodities

  1. Trees: They provide us with paper, furniture, and the vital oxygen we breathe.
  2. Major Grains: Wheat, rice, and corn are staples in our diets and key agricultural products.
  3. Animal Products: Leather and meats come from livestock, contributing to various industries.
  4. Fruits and Vegetables: Essential for nutrition, they’re a cornerstone of our daily food intake.
  5. Bio-based Chemicals: Substances like butanol and acetone, derived from biological sources, are crucial in many industrial applications.

Renewable Resources Around the World

The Department of Energy reports that since 2008, the prices for clean energy technologies, including solar panels for homes and large-scale use, land-based wind turbines, and LED light bulbs, have dropped dramatically by 40 to 90 percent in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced that the portion of renewable energy in domestic use reached its highest level since the 1930s, a time when wood played a much bigger role in our energy supply.

The exciting part comes when we look at the possibilities of affordable renewable energy. Researchers from California’s The Solutions Project have discovered that the world could entirely switch to renewable electricity by 2050 if we use the right incentives. For the United States, this would mean a significant reliance on solar energy:

  • Utility-scale solar plants would supply 25 percent of our electricity.
  • Rooftop solar panels, both on homes and businesses, would contribute 15.4 percent.
  • Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants would add another 7.3 percent.

This means that nearly half of the electricity in the U.S. could come from the sun! Wind energy, geothermal heat, and water sources like wave energy and hydropower would cover the remaining energy needs.

Renewable Resources as Types of Energy

Products like fruits, meats, grains, and leather all come from a world powered by renewable resources, yet these resources are often labeled as “alternative” energy. Despite the rapid growth of solar power, we need to shift how we perceive renewable energy. In 2019, renewables led the way in new electricity additions, hinting at a future where fossil fuels might become the “alternative” as renewables become the standard. The energy industry worldwide is undergoing financial and technological shifts, with technology and policy advancements playing a crucial role in the outcome. For a future powered entirely by renewables, energy subsidies need to adapt to the changing times.

The landscape of energy subsidies has seen significant changes, with a notable shift towards renewable energy. In 2022, the global subsidies for fossil fuels surged to over $1 trillion, marking the highest annual value recorded, as reported by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This substantial increase is attributed to various government measures implemented to shield consumers from the high international fossil fuel prices, especially in the wake of the energy crisis exacerbated by geopolitical events.

On the renewable energy front, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) observed a substantial rise in federal support for renewable sources between fiscal years 2016 and 2022. Renewable energy subsidies more than doubled during this period, prior to the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, which further increased renewable subsidies. By fiscal year 2022, renewable energy, including biofuels, accounted for 53% of the total energy subsidies from the federal government, marking a significant increase from 41% in fiscal year 2016. The increase in renewable energy subsidies reflects a broader commitment to cleaner energy sources and the gradual transition away from fossil fuels​​​​.

This shift in subsidy allocation underscores a global and national move towards more sustainable and renewable energy sources, aligning with broader climate goals and efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The evolving landscape of subsidies indicates a recognition of the importance of renewable energy in achieving long-term energy security and environmental sustainability.

Keeping up this momentum for renewable energy is crucial. While fossil fuel tax benefits are permanent in the tax code, incentives for renewables are often temporary and need renewal.

The United States is Moving Forward with Solar

Join the solar revolution and discover how solar power could light up half of our country! Find out your potential savings with solar and become an informed solar shopper by following our three essential tips:

1. Shop Around: Just like any major purchase, finding the right solar panel setup requires research and comparing different companies. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy, advises shoppers to explore as many solar options as possible to steer clear of the high prices charged by big-name companies. Local solar contractors like 8MSolar often provide better deals. 

2. Beware of Big Installers’ High Prices: The adage “bigger isn’t always better” rings true in the solar industry. Large solar companies might spend a lot on marketing, but this doesn’t mean they offer the best value. Government studies have shown that the largest installers could charge $2,000 to $5,000 more than smaller solar businesses. So, if you’ve got quotes from big names, make sure to also get estimates from local installers to ensure you’re not overpaying for your solar system.

3. Explore All Equipment Options: Choosing the right equipment is crucial, as it can greatly affect your system’s electricity output. Big national installers often have limited equipment choices, which could mean less efficient systems for more money. By gathering a variety of bids, you can compare the costs and potential savings from different solar panel and inverter combinations. Remember, the most expensive solar setup isn’t always the most cost-effective. The best way to find the ideal solution for your home is to assess quotes with various equipment and financing options.

If you’re just starting your solar journey and want a rough idea of installation costs and savings, try using a Solar Calculator. It provides initial cost estimates and long-term savings based on your specific location and roof type. Give 8MSolar a call today and we will help you get the energy savings you need!

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