There are a number of renewable energy forms on the market today, such as solar, wind, water, biofuels, and many more. But which is the best renewable energy form, and which shows the most promise in the coming years? While we are slightly biased in this discussion because of our love for solar energy, we promise to make it a fair fight. Let’s dive in!
Types of Renewable Energy
As we mentioned in the beginning, there are many different types of renewables, and they’re only growing more and more popular throughout the world. Within the many subcategories of renewable energy, there are five main sources of energy. These sources include:
- Solar Energy
- Wind Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Hydro Energy
In a recent post we released, we broke down each of these energy sources along with their benefits and the likelihood that a homeowner could take advantage of them. You’ll find that post here.
But that still leaves us with the question, which of these renewable energy forms is best and why? Today we’ll be going into the pros and cons of each, along with their prices and how easy it is to take advantage of them in your home.
At Sun Badger, we love solar! There isn’t anything about solar that doesn’t make us excited. Whether you’re looking to get solar panels installed on your home or place of business, or you’re considering investing in a solar farm—you can’t go wrong with choosing solar.
Solar panels are actually fairly simple. Here’s an in-depth guide to how they work. In short solar panels capture the sun’s energy through photovoltaic cells and transfer that energy to inverters, where it will invert into usable energy and then run throughout your home.
Pros of Solar Panels
- Solar works in every climate that gets a good amount of sunlight.
- Solar is very affordable.
- Solar energy allows you to give back to your community in a “green” way.
- Solar panels will continue producing electricity for more than 30 years.
Cons of Solar Panels
- The panels can’t produce electricity at night.
- Solar panels aren’t always attractive. (Sun Badger does offer some sleek panel designs that are much more attractive than traditional panels.)
- You can’t install the system yourself.
As you can see, there are obviously advantages and disadvantages for solar. But nonetheless, solar makes for a great “green” investment and offers some of the cleanest and most sustainable energy available to mankind today.
Solar and wind energy have long battled for the position of most respected renewable energy. It’s hard to say one is better than the other because they both serve very different purposes. For example, you likely would never install a wind turbine in your yard or on your roof. The size alone would make it impossible. But, you can install solar panels. At the same time, you might put up wind turbines in a field where solar panels could become overgrown with weeds. Additionally, farmers are still able to plant crops around the turbines.
Pros of Wind Energy
- Low operating cost.
- Efficient use of land and space.
Cons of Wind Energy
- Intermittent – doesn’t work when the wind isn’t blowing.
- Noisy and visually pollutant.
- Can affect the environment, such as birds.
Wind energy has lots of potential but, in some ways, is still working out the kinks and doesn’t prove to be a great option for homeowners.
Geothermal energy is one of the most complex energy systems in terms of mechanics. Geothermal works by forcing cold water down a pipe closer to the Earth’s core; as it gets closer, the core heats the water and turns it into steam, spinning turbines as it rises and creates electricity. The steam can also be used to heat the building. While these systems are invasive to the planet, they’re extremely efficient. Geothermal systems are mostly used for heating and cooling homes or commercial buildings.
Pros of Geothermal Energy
- Extremely efficient (300-500%).
- Mostly underground for a minimal footprint.
- Lifespan of over 30 years on most components.
Cons of Geothermal Energy
- High upfront cost of implementation.
- More suitable for new home builds vs. retrofitting existing homes.
- Uses a large amount of water.
- Electricity is still needed to power the water pumps.
- Invasive to the environment.
There’s a lot of moving pieces to geothermal, but it is a really great source of renewable energy, so be sure to check it out!
Hydro-electric energy has been used for thousands of years. Anytime that someone captures or uses the weight of water to perform different actions, they’re taking advantage of hydro energy. Unfortunately, using hydro-electric energy in your home isn’t really an option. In order to create any substantial amount of electricity, you’ll need to have access to a dam or river.
Cities, States, and Countries throughout the world still use hydroelectricity as an energy source and have seen great benefits.
While not commonly accepted in the U.S. as a source of electricity, biomass energy is growing in popularity around the world. In the U.K., there are a number of places that use biomass to heat their homes and create electricity. Biomass is simply burning plants that have been turned into fuel. Biomass is similar to Ethanol but doesn’t contain any petroleum. One common biomass way of heating a home would be a wood-burning stove. These aren’t common in urban areas, but rural areas find them to be effective ways to heat their home in the winter.
Pros of Biomass Energy
- Renewable (all plants will keep growing as long as you take care of them).
- Reduces waste.
- Reliable energy production.
Cons of Biomass Energy
- High cost for creating the products used.
- Requires a large amount of space.
- Can have adverse environmental effects.
As you can see, there are benefits to all of the different renewable energy types. But, if you’re looking for alternative energy that can help to power your home for years and years to come, then solar is what you should look to. Reach out to us today, and we’ll help you get started with a free solar estimate. Be sure to also check out our residential solar page for more info on the tax incentives and value that going solar offers.