Clean Energy 101
Renewable energies are made from natural resources that are quickly replenished to perpetually power the planet. Nearly all renewable energies are clean, producing very few if any carbon emissions, and drastically reducing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Produces energy from the movement of water through a turbine.
Advantage: Produces 24 hours a day, reliable, predictable
Disadvantage: Few good sites, difficult and costly permitting
Cost: Low $
Notes: Not dams; but streams, irrigation ditches, water supply lines
Makes use of the wind to turn a turbine and generate electricity.
Advantage: Moderate/high reliability, most jobs per dollar among clean technologies
Disadvantage: Very few good sites, fairly complex to install and maintain
Cost: Low $
Burns biological matter to create steam to turn turbines and produce electricity. The heat by product is often used for multiple purposes, called cogeneration.
Advantage: Reliable, predictable, burns waste in some cases
Disadvantage: Complex to establish, requires continual supply and maintenance
Cost: Moderate $$
Solar Electric (PV)
Sunlight is absorbed by semiconducting materials (such as silicon), knocking electrons loose from their atoms and producing electricity.
Advantage: Easy to install, long-life, scalable, can be used in many locations
Disadvantage: Produces power during day time only, requires lots of space, production affected by weather
Cost: Low $
Electricity is generated by turning a turbine with steam that is extracted from heat stored within the earth.
Advantage: Reliable, predictable
Disadvantage: Very few good sites, fairly complex to install and maintain
Cost: Moderate $$