Did you know that 80 percent of the United States’ energy comes from fossil fuels? However, only 11 percent is the result of renewable sources.
You’ve probably heard the terms “renewable” and “alternative” bandied about with reference to energy. Is there a difference? According to Globalization 101, a project of the Levin Institute at the State University of New York (SUNY), “alternative energy is a broader category encompassing all non-fossil-fuel-based energy sources and processes, of which renewable energies are only a part.”
Alternative Energy Sources
If you’re not exactly sure of which different sources alternative energy is comprised, here’s a list from the Renewable Resources Coalition:
- Solar power
- Nuclear Power
- Hydroelectric Energy
- Wave Energy
- Natural Gas
- Geothermal Power
- Wind Energy
- Biomass Energy
- Tidal Energy
- Hydrogen Gas
Of these, wind energy is the fastest growing renewable source. These sources offer an advantage over options such as nuclear and fossil energy for many reasons. They include a better environmental impact, improved sustainability and increased affordability.
The electricity industry in the U.S. is responsible for more than one-third of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative energy solutions are able to generate electricity with a noticeably smaller environmental footprint. They also emit little or no pollution, produce less air contaminants and don’t utilize chemical processes. Wind and solar energy, for example, reduce the chance of water sources being polluted because they don’t require water for operation.
For example, the use of geothermal power in this country offsets 22 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, 200,000 metric tons of nitrogen oxides, and 110,000 metrics tons of particulate matter from coal-powered plants each year. A 1.5 kilowatt photovoltaic system will keep more than 110,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the next 25 years while preventing the need to burn 60,000 pounds of coal. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as more solar panel systems are employed, fewer pollutants are being released into the air.
This reduction in pollution not only can affect natural resources but also public health. Many Americans suffer from respiratory issues, and pollution can exacerbate those illnesses.
Fossil fuels are limited resources, which means they have less sustainability than alternative energy sources. Alternative, clean sources are renewable, offering a more stable supply for future utilization. Even if the usage of these resources increases, they will be replenished on a continual basis. Plus, alternative energy sources are better able to withstand large-scale failures.
Energy prices fluctuate based on supply and demand. Unfortunately for the U.S., many fossil fuel components are imported from foreign sources, so there’s a definite reliance on those countries.
Implementation of and investment in more alternative energy solutions could stabilize prices and create more jobs, thereby bolstering the U.S. economy. These solutions would also most likely cost less to operate.
These savings don’t take into account the savings that could be realized through improved public health from fewer pollutants. One study found that approximately $167 billion in health and environmental damages could be avoided by the widespread adoption of alternative energy sources.
PierTech Systems – Playing Our Part in Reducing Pollution
At PierTech, our products are used in many green technology solutions for renewable and sustainable energy. Our patented PierTech Helical Piers enable the installation of a strong foundation without the need for digging and/or excavation. Similarly, our solar ground system, which doesn’t require curing but supplies the support necessary to hold any size solar array, can be installed in only hours.
For wind energy, helical piers like those we use are streamlining the installation and concrete-free raising of wind towers, again without the need for curing times. We accomplish this by using a helical pier to support the tower and helical anchors to hold the guide wire.
If you’re interested in becoming a certified PierTech installer, sign up today to join us for our next certification training.