Which Renewable Energy Sources Are Best for You?

With all the talk around renewable energy, climate change, energy security and dependence on fossil fuels, it can be difficult to separate the facts from the hype and make informed decisions. These topics blend economics, politics, culture, history, technology and more — but unlike some other complicated subjects, choosing the best energy sources for your car or home should be a priority.

Now is the time to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and look to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal. Climate scientists predict significant consequences due to climate change if we don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions within the next 30 years.

Renewable Energy on the Rise

The good news? Installation and usage of renewable energy in the United States have risen markedly in the last few years. Take California, the most populous state in the country, as an example: Both large-scale and self-generation rates in the Golden State have risen dramatically, from 40,000 gigawatt-hours in 2010 to nearly 70,000 GWh in 2017, and the growth rate continues to accelerate.

This trend can also be seen around the country, where the cost of the technology and infrastructure behind renewable energy — especially solar and wind — has dropped, make it more economically viable for the average consumer.

All this is great, but some argue that it’s not enough and that it’s happening too slowly. As it is, many climate scientists agree the damage we’ve already done to the environment may be irreversible to a certain extent, with at least some rising of sea levels and severe weather for years to come. The concern is that more damage is bound to occur while we work to solve the problem.

Your Personal Decisions Matter

All this may leave you wondering whether one person’s commitment to renewable energy sources will ultimately have any effect. Global climate change is a problem for all humanity, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless an individual. You can make a personal decision for you, your family and perhaps even your community as to how dependent you’re going to be on fossil fuels.

To help you decide what renewable energy sources to use, here’s a look at a few of the major options:

  • Solar: Solar power is nonpolluting and long-lasting, but it might not do 100 percent of the job if you live in a low-sunlight area. Because solar energy is so abundant, it’s among the most popular renewable energy options.
  • Geothermal: This energy source isn’t completely free of environmental impact, but emissions are minimal. And while it doesn’t take a lot of cash to keep plants running, it’s expensive to get them started. Plus, they require access to a geothermal field (those don’t exactly grow on trees).
  • Wind: Wind energy is emissions-free and high-output, although power production is dependent on wind speed. Systems are also expensive to build and maintain, and they use a lot of land.
  • Hydropower: Hydroelectricity is clean, reliable and easy to scale based on demand. But have you checked the price tag on a hydroelectric dam lately? Not cheap. They also tend to disrupt the environment more than other renewable energy systems.

At the end of the day, doing what you can to promote renewable energy really comes down to the basics: making informed decisions based on the facts. The power to do that has always been in your hands.

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