Solar power is by far the Earth’s most abundant source of renewable energy, as it is capable of meeting current global energy demands, many times over. However, solar is not the only game in town. In fact, there are a number of other sources of renewable energy, including water, wind, biomass and biofuels, all of which may be naturally replenished.
According to studies by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 1999, renewable energy sources accounted for 13 percent of global energy demand. At that time, biomass represented 80 percent of the world’s renewable energy, with hydropower being the second largest renewable energy source with 2.3 percent market share. Wind and solar energy made up the balance.
By 2006, research by the EIA found that hydropower was the predominant renewable energy resource, accounting for 87 percent of the world’s electricity generated through renewable energy. That same year, biomass produced 7 percent, and solar and wind produced 4 percent.
In the next 20 years, the market for solar energy is expected to grow significantly. In fact, the EIA, in its “Annual Energy Outlook for 2009” (March, 2009), found that in the United States alone, solar generation is expected to reach 22.45 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2030, representing a 1,700-percent increase over 2007 production levels of 1.29 (kWh). Clearly, there is a tremendous business opportunity for entrepreneurs interested in joining the “Solar Revolution.”
Recent advances in renewable energy technologies have made it easier for consumers and businesses alike to harness the power of our Earth’s natural resources. Among the most widely used technologies are photovoltaic (PV) cells or concentrating solar power (CSP) systems that convert sunlight to electricity, hydroelectric power stations that use the gravitational force of falling or flowing water to create an electrical current, and wind turbines, that capture wind and translate its power into an electrical current.
About Solar Power Technologies
Sunlight can be converted into electricity by direct means using photovoltaic (PV) cells, or indirectly using concentrating solar power (CSP), which normally focuses the sun’s energy to boil water, which is then used to provide power.
About Hydro and Wind Power Technologies
Hydropower is one of the world’s oldest sources of energy. Today, hydropower technologies are available in a number of forms, while some are purely mechanical most are used primarily to generate electricity. Hydroelectricity is the most commonly used hydropower technology.
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into electricity using wind turbines. Wind power is most commonly delivered by large-scale wind-farms, many of which dot mountain and desert passes where winds are most prevalent.
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