How do I Choose the Best Renewable Energy Options?

Jessica Ellis

Eco-conscious people, whether for residential or business purposes, are often quite excited about the wide variety of renewable energy options being developed. Although many are eager to implement these new technologies, deciding which solution will be more efficient may not be as easy at it might seem. A little research and even a bit of investment risk can help people choose renewable energy options that make sense for their local area.

Solar panels can generate clean, renewable energy.
Solar panels can generate clean, renewable energy.

The key factor to selecting the best of the possible renewable energy options is the availability of renewable natural resources. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power are all commonly cited examples of renewable energies, but whether they are possible sources of energy depends on the area. Generally, a look at the weather and environment will greatly narrow the possibilities.

A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.
A wind farm that's used to make renewable energy.

The more the sun is out, the more energy a solar power system will be able to generate. This does not mean, however, that solar power options are only logical in deserts. Since solar batteries can store large amounts of sunlight, these power systems can provide energy even on cloudy or rainy days. Still, solar power technology is best implemented in areas that receive at least some sunlight on most days.

Wind power, another renewable energy, can be used in less windy areas. A consistent breeze is actually more advantageous to windmill systems, promoting energy production without overloading or damaging the mechanical system. People who live in mountain pass areas are likely to best be served by renewable wind powered renewable energy options.

To some extent, solar and wind power can be used on an individual basis to power a home or small building. Geothermal and hydroelectric power, however, require much greater infrastructure and are rarely possible to harness on an individual basis. Areas with substantially large reservoirs, access to coastlines, and extensive natural water sources are more likely places for hydroelectric systems. If the local area features geysers or hot springs, geothermal energy plants may be beneficial.

Although the availability of local resources is an important consideration when choosing renewable energy options, it is far from the only consideration. While many forms of renewable energy are applicable in limited areas, mass availability of alternative energy remains uncertain. For instance, while some experts suggest that a large solar plant in the desert could produce enough energy to power a country the size of the United States, the question remains as to how the energy would be routed and transported across large distances. Considerable advances in technology must still be made before mass production and distribution of almost all renewable energy options can be realized.

When choosing the best renewable energy options, it may be wise to remember that the field is still quite new. Researching the company providing the system infrastructure is one important way to choose the best renewable energy options, as it can give potential customers and shareholders a clear picture as to the goals and capabilities of new alternative energy businesses. However, as with any developing field, the future costs of technology and unforeseen complications cannot necessarily be predicted, even by experts. Although investing in renewable energy technology may be a worthy and responsible concept, investors must be prepared to take serious financial risk before seeing any return.

The Hoover Dam is used to generate hydroelectric power, a type of renewable energy.
The Hoover Dam is used to generate hydroelectric power, a type of renewable energy.

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