The Advantage of
Renewable Energy, and the Challenges

The advantage of renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind energy, geothermal and hydropower and some of the challenges involved in using them.

As fossil fuels diminish, the advantage of renewable energy is quickly becoming more understood. The population of the earth is growing and with that growth additional pressure is placed on the already depleting energy sources commonly used like fossil fuels.

While there are plenty of advantages to Mother Earth that renewable energy sources provide, there come some disadvantages as well. In order to shift from our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to discover ways to minimize the challenges so that it becomes more possible for everyone who wishes to use renewable energy sources.

The main sources of renewable energy include solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower.

Solar Energy

One of the most utilized forms of renewable energy is solar power collection. Solar power harvests the sun radiation and heat and converts these into electricity that can be used to power a home or business. The excess energy can also be fed into the electrical grid of a local utility company for credit and possible payment.

While solar energy has very little impact on the Earth when installed on existing structures, there are some limitations associated with its use.

Solar energy can only be harvested optimally when the sun is shining. Changes in weather like rain, snow or cloudy weather can reduce or eliminate the amount of energy harvested. In some parts of the world, solar panels are not optimal due to consistent bad weather and few sunny days.

Wind Energy

For some parts of the world, wind energy is a fantastic source of supplemental electrical energy. Wind farms are popping up left and right collecting enough energy to support entire communities and small towns. While wind farms leave a very small impact on the Earth, the upkeep and initial cost is often higher than other alternative energy choices.

The upfront investment for harvesting wind energy can range from $40,000 to $70,000 for a 10 kilowatt system. On average, it is estimated that a wind farm will break even on these upfront costs in about 17 years. Another cost associated with wind energy systems is maintenance. While professional wind farms hire technicians to maintain the turbines, a residential system may be costly to maintain.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is considered one of the least polluting types of alternative energy. The advantage of renewable energy harvested as heat is the lower cost of maintenance with a high expected energy yield. The upfront cost of establishing a geothermal plant is huge and there is always the chance that the heated energy source is not as renewable as once thought.

Advanced drilling techniques are needed to establish a connection with the Earth's prime energy source, heat. The heat is harvested through deep holes in the Earth which leaves some questioning the true impact on the planet. Though the carbon footprint of geothermal farming is minimal, the area of ground needed to establish a working plant will certainly destroy local animal and wildlife habitat.

Hydropower Energy

The power of water has long been used to produce electricity. The energy is often converted with 80% to 90% efficiency which makes hydropower one of most beneficial alternative energy sources.

The advantage of renewable energy is a constant supply of power and hydropower is no different. While hydropower is effective wherever it is used, some areas with infrequent rainfall and rivers that dry up during the hot seasons would probably not benefit from hydropower generators.

M.S. Rochell is the editor of which offers education and inspiration on the benefits of going green with solar energy, DIY solar power, and affordable solar energy solutions. For more on the advantage of renewable energy, and to receive our free solar panels eBooks, please visit our site's growing collection of renewable energy articles and resources.

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