Although wind turbines may look like really big fans, they actually work in reverse. While fans use electricity to create wind, turbines use wind to create electricity. In this way, wind farms harness and transform the natural power of wind into renewable energy. Wind energy has the potential to create ten times the amount of electricity needed to power the entire country.
Solar power projects use the energy from the sun to generate heat, light, and electricity. Solar energy is a powerful and valuable renewable resource and one of the fastest growing industries in America. The solar energy reaching just one square mile of our planet in a year is equivalent to the energy from 4 million barrels of oil while the total solar energy hitting the earth exceeds the annual energy consumed by humanity by a factor of over 20,000 times.
Hydroelectric power harnesses the energy of falling water to create a renewable source of electricity. Hydropower is one of the largest sources of clean energy in the country producing approximately 6-8 percent of the nation’s electrical needs. Hydroelectric power prevents greenhouse gas emissions equal to the worldwide burning of approximately 4.4 million barrels of petroleum per day.
Similar to hydropower, wave energy projects, both on and offshore, capture the immense power of water and convert it into electricity. In this case, however, the focus is on harnessing the kinetic energy in ocean waves which have the advantage of being an abundant, predictable, and incredibly efficient source of power. In fact, the energy contained in just 0.2 percent of ocean waves is enough to power the entire planet!
An immense amount of energy is stored beneath our feet. With geothermal power, energy below the earth’s surface is harnessed to create clean and renewable sources of heating, cooling, and electricity. In 2013, geothermal power produced approximately 3,300 megawatts of energy in the United States - the same amount of energy that might have been created by burning 73 million barrels of oil a year.