Stimulus funds, greater consumer commitment to environmentalism, rising oil prices, and dwindling supplies have made the exploration of alternative energy sources more attractive. As a result, the green economy has taken center stage. Countries like Brazil and China have surpassed the United States and Canada in their commitments to renewable energy sources, but the U.S. and Canadian markets have recently taken measures to boost their countries’ leadership roles. In fact, a fiscal cliff deal was responsible for the U.S. giving Canada a renewable energy tax credit.
Government price supports and target-setting help support the growing industry, focusing attention on a growing global concern. Renewable energy comes from natural sources such as wind, waves, rain, geothermal heat, and solar energy. The use of wind power increases by 20 percent annually, and countries in Europe and Asia, as well as the United States, increasingly depend on wind energy technologies.
Types of Renewable Energy
- The Industrial Revolution introduced geothermal power, biomass combustion, and hydroelectric power. These technologies continue to supply large parts of the world’s energy needs.
- Second-generation technologies include wind power, solar heating and cooling, bioenergy, and photovoltaics. The oil crisis of the 1970’s helped spur development of these new technologies, which have become common worldwide.
- Third-generation energy includes efforts to tap the power of oceans, biomass gasification, hot-dry-rock geothermal power, nanotechnology, and biorefinery techniques to produce sustainable fuels.
Conservation and Efficiency Plays an Important Role
Greater energy efficiency and conservation efforts help reduce the overall demand for energy. Solar collectors, hydroponic gardens, recycling activities, and local sourcing reduce energy usage, save money, and help protect the environment.
Additionally, it’s critical that existing energy sources be maximized. For example, the use of cleaner fossil fuels such as natural gas has become an increasingly viable option, especially in provinces like Alberta, Canada, where energy deregulation has freed up companies like Alberta Energy Providers to offer affordable rates to residents.
Clean Energy Leaders
Countries in other parts of the world are implementing energy solutions as well. Brazil produces sugarcane for ethanol, which provides 18 percent of its automotive fuels. China has committed to greener energies on a massive scale to meet the needs of the world’s largest population center. More than 100 countries have developed renewable energy strategies, doubling the figure from only five years ago.
Here are a few examples of companies that have an impact on energy consumption and renewable energy solutions:
- Yingli Green Energy Holding Company ranks as the world’s largest photovoltaic manufacturer.
- Advanced Energy Company offers solutions to global power-conversion problems.
- Affordable Solar offers wholesale prices on solar-energy systems.
- 3TIER Company helps energy companies and industries use weather science to reduce manufacturing risks.
Renewable energy sources currently supply 18 percent of the world’s power, and the International Energy Agency predicts that solar-energy facilities will provide most of the world’s electricity by 2060. The dual approach of conserving resources and stimulating research and development of clean energy sources offers the prospect of clean and sustainable energy for future generations.