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Solar vs Others; Which Renewable Energy Sources to Choose?

October 7, 2022

Solar energy is a renewable & carbon-free energy source obtained from the sun, typically used to generate free heat and electricity. Its cost-effectiveness and environment-friendly operation make it an ideal pick compared to other sources of energy. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is among the naturally available renewable energy sources, eradicating any fears of its depletion in the future.

However, despite the excess of solar energy, our unrestrained reliance on other types limits energy generation capacity from this particular source. According to a study, only 12% of Americans used solar energy in 2021, while others heavily relied on different primary, nonrenewable, and a few renewable energy sources. These include wind, petroleum, natural gas, coal, geothermal, etc.

Let’s dig into the details of different types of energy sources to discover which one is better for our budget in general and our planet in particular.

Natural gas facility

Natural gas facility

1. Natural Gas

Natural gas is among the top fossil fuels on which the world runs. People are trying to make
an effort to move away from other energy sources like coal or petroleum as they are quickly
depleting and harming our environment as well. And as an alternative, natural gas is a decent
choice. Traditionally, it is defined as the naturally occurring gaseous hydrocarbon mainly
comprising methane with minute quantities of other hydrocarbons.

It may surprise you, but natural gas is way more efficient than other fossil fuels and produces the maximum energy, having an efficiency of 92%. However, this doesn’t mean natural gas is all flowers. There’re significant pros and cons of this energy source that you can’t overlook,
so let’s have a look at a few:
Pros
● Natural gas is widely available
● It’s one of the cleanest fossil fuels
● Mixed with other odors to create a different smell for safety purposes that is easily
detectable during a leak
● Combined with other fossil fuels to generate electricity, causing minimum risk to the
environment
Cons:
● Highly flammable
● The transportation cost of natural gas is high
● Releases definite quantities of greenhouse gases
● It’s among the nonrenewable energy source

2. Wind

Wind energy is one of the most sustainable and renewable energy sources, in which natural wind is used to run wind turbines to produce electricity. Due to the cost-effectiveness of wind energy, its popularity is also increasing quickly. According to a study, around 380 billion KWh of wind energy was generated in 2021 in the US, which is approximately 9.2% of the total electrical energy produced in the country.

As the wind is always available, you can make as much electricity through it as you want by
promoting wind turbine installation. However, like other forms of energy, wind energy has its
fair share of pros and cons. Don’t know what they are? Let’s have a look:
Pros
● No fuel usage
● It’s among clean energy sources
● Produces job opportunities for people
● It doesn’t impact farmhouse operations
● The installation and running cost of wind turbines is relatively low compared to other
alternative energy sources
Cons
● Wind turbines locations may need additional infrastructure
● Negatively impact wildlife
● Its reliance on location limits its usage
● Unpredictability due to dependence on the wind flow

3. Hydro

If you are looking for a renewable yet fossil fuels-free energy source, there’s nothing better than hydro. This can be generated in nearly all types of dams with a proper turbine spinning mechanism. When water passes through these spins, the spinning motion creates a spark known as electricity. In the US, most of the hydropower is generated at large dams in western regions.

The most prominent states to generate conventional hydro-energy includes California,
Washington, Oregon, New York, and Alabama. Undoubtedly, hydropower is a great energy
source and is abundant, especially in rainy areas. So, using it wisely gives you robust and
hookup-free power. But there are specific cons of this source that are discussed below:
Pros
● Maximizes output power when combined with other renewable energy sources
● Can easily deal with high electricity demands
● Inexpensive and works for a long time
Cons
● Power generation relies on local hydrology
● Installation and running procedure is costly

4. Geothermal

Geothermal energy is also an efficient energy source in which heat within the earth is captured or harnessed to generate power. This heat is produced by the radioactivity of potassium, thorium, and uranium under the earth’s crust. Although this energy is present everywhere, the intensity may vary from area to area.

Let’s discuss a few pros & cons that come with geothermal energy:
Pros
● Very reliable energy source
● Perfect for small and large-scale residential or commercial buildings
● Minimum land footprint
Cons
● Can make the surface unstable
● Location dependent
● High cost

5. Coal

Coal is also a great energy source and has been used since cave time. Generally, coal is a fossil fuel generated by plants that have died and have been present inside the earth for around 100 to 400 years. Nowadays, coal is mainly used to produce electric power in the United States. But how does this work? The coals in a coal power plant are burned in a boiler that makes steam.

After that, the steam produced is passed through a turbine under immense pressure, which
later spins a generator and produces electricity. Once it’s done, the steam is condensed and
returned to the boiler in the form of water, and the cycle repeats. Here are a few pros & cons
of coal energy:
Pros
● Vast availability makes it very affordable
● It can be used anytime & anywhere, which means no energy lag with coal
● Can be converted into alternative energy sources and fuels
Cons
● Releases harmful greenhouse gases
● Coal mining endangers natural habitats
● A coal power plant produces radiation more toxic than nuclear power

6. Biomass

In caveman time, biomass was used to generate heat and keep the surroundings warm during freezing weather. So, it’s nothing new to man. However, now the applications of biomass energy have increased. Biomass refers to the organic material extracted from animals or plants, and the most common examples are plants, wood, waste, animal feedstock, etc.

These materials are first dried and then burned to generate heat and electricity. However, this
energy source isn’t vastly utilized by industries. That’s why biomass energy only contributed
to 1.4% of the total electricity generated in the US in 2019. Let’s discuss a few pros & cons of
biomass energy to understand it better:
Pros
● As organic waste is in excess, it’s also among the renewable energy sources.
● Reduces waste and landfills
● Reliable energy source
Cons
● Biomass energy plants are costly
● Requires a lot of space, resulting in the destruction of natural habitats
● Releases harmful gases, resulting in Ozone depletion

7. Solar Energy

As mentioned earlier, it’s one of the most acceptable renewable energy sources and is present in unlimited quantities. You can utilize it to generate heat and electricity. But how to store and use this natural energy source? That’s where a solar panel helps you. One can install a solar panel on a home’s roof; when the sun’s radiations fall onto the thin solar film, they will get entrapped and later turned into electrical energy.

Homes with solar panels are considered sustainable and sell at higher prices than other houses of the same category. The US is one of those countries having the richest solar energy sources, especially in the Southwest region.

Large Ground Facility

Ground mount solar installation

That’s why the US government is taking quick and effective measures to promote solar energy throughout the country to offer residents more job opportunities and low-cost electricity. Here are the never-ending benefits of solar energy:
Pros
● Solar energy has the least damaging effect on the environment and needs 20 times less water than a nuclear or other fossil fuels plant. This makes it safe for both your land and water.
● Producing electricity from solar energy means you will not rely much on utility suppliers, which greatly reduces your electricity bills so that you can spend that money on other things.
● The peak electricity demand time is 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and the sun is blazing during these hours. This means you can utilize solar energy during the peak hours and save utility for night hours when demand is less.
● Solar energy is available everywhere, and authorities can use it to provide electricity
to power-deprived areas.
Cons
● As solar energy isn’t prevalent, solar panels are relatively expensive.
● Some level of dependence on weather

Why is Solar Better?

Solar is one of the most reliable, clean, and renewable energy sources and superior to its counterparts because of its low cost and extra availability. Moreover, solar energy is natural and doesn’t release harmful greenhouse gases like CO2 — the environment will stay safe and pure, eradicating all deadly health risks.

In contrast, other energy sources are either not renewable or release harmful gases that cause ozone depletion and raise the earth’s temperature. So, preferring different types of energy sources means risking natural habitats.

Saving our beloved planet is the ultimate goal. Though we’re heading on the right track, we still have a lot to do to make this planet greener, safer, and healthier for ourselves.

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Solgen Power is a solar energy equipment company that sells and installs solar for homeowners. Solgen Power has been recognized by INC. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Solgen Power has grown nationwide and continues to provide excellent customer service to homeowners.

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