With growing concern over the effects of greenhouse gases and global warming, more and more people are switching to alternative forms of energy. Homes and businesses alike are turning to solar power, biofuels and other eco-friendly technologies for a cleaner and cheaper source of energy. Green power will continue to be a fast growing market in the energy sector for the foreseeable future.
Solar power is one of the fastest growing green energy technologies available. Large solar panels made up of individual solar cells capture and concentrate light from the sun, and then turn that into energy that we can use.
Solar panels can be found out in the desert on large commercial solar farms, or attached to your neighbor’s roof. Solar power is a cheap, versatile and essentially endless form of energy that can be used on different scales. In 2014 it accounted for over 36 percent of all new electric capacity in the United States.
Private corporations have been investing in solar energy as it has grown over the years. Companies like Google and Apple are heavily involved in solar projects, and many businesses power their offices with solar energy to reduce operational costs.
The energy sector has also seen a dramatic growth in job production thanks to solar power. The solar industry has seen around a 20 percent annual increase in job growth, providing millions with not only electricity, but also work.
Thanks to its increasing popularity and decreasing costs, solar power will continue to provide an eco-friendly energy alternative to homes and businesses alike. The constantly growing demand for solar power will ensure that the industry continues to expand and thrive, making solar projects a low risk, high yield investment.
Wind power uses large structures called turbines to convert wind energy into electrical power. Each turbine has two or three blades places around a central rotor.
As the wind turns the blades the rotor spins, providing the energy a generator will use to produce electricity.
Like solar power, wind power is clean and cost effective. After the initial installation of a turbine, the maintenance costs are minimal. Unlike solar panels though, turbines tend to be large and unsightly. Most people don’t want to place a windmill in their back yard. The majority of turbines can be found on large wind farms that supply power to nearby towns and cities. As more of these wind farms are built, more citizens and businesses will have access to wind power.
There are thousands of wind farms scattered across the globe, and the number is growing. Currently over 46,000 wind turbines are operating in the U.S. alone, which is enough to power 15.5 million homes. As more people switch over to renewable and eco-friendly forms of energy production, the electric capacity of wind power is predicted to nearly double in five years, making it a good time to invest in wind projects.
Biofuels are made, as the name suggests, from living organisms or their byproducts. Many commonly found biofuels such as corn-based ethanol are produced from materials that we already grow for food. Almost all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains about 10% corn ethanol to reduce emissions.
The fact that biofuels are made from common foods such as corn, grain and soy is convenient, but can also limit production. We cannot use all of the corn we grow to make biofuels, since some needs to be kept for our own consumption.
Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel that is produced from inedible plants. Woods and grasses are good candidates for cellulosic ethanol production. The plants used to make this type of biofuel are readily available and require less water and fertilizer than edible crops.
Commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol is still in its beginning stages, with just three facilities under development in the U.S., but the industry is growing fast. According to a study by Sandia National Laboratories, cellulosic biofuel could replace almost a third of gasoline usage by 2030. As more research goes into biofuels, the industry will continue to grow rapidly and offer ample investment opportunities.
Hydroelectric power is energy created by the movement of running water. Similar to wind power, the water spins turbines that connect to a rotor to produce energy. Dams are a very simple and ancient technology that provides a cheap and reliable source of power.
Hydroelectricity is one of the most widely used sources of renewable energy in the world, and provides electricity to all fifty states. There are still plenty of untapped sources of hydroelectricity throughout the U.S., as well as in other nations such as the Balkans and Turkey. The energy capacity of hydropower has been predicted to grow by two thirds from 2010 to 2035, making hydroelectric projects a low risk and eco-friendly investment to consider.
Geothermal power is an emerging green technology that shows a lot of promise. It takes advantage of the Earth’s natural heat, which is a resource that we will never run out of. Steam captured either from deep underground or from geothermal water reservoirs turns a turbine that connects to a power generator.
Geothermal power is reliable and cheap, and has been growing at a steady rate of 4 to 5 percent annually. There are projects and initiatives across the globe to increase the use of geothermal power. The Philippines plans to expand its geothermal output by 75 percent in the next 15 years. In the U.S., over half of the geothermal resources in states like California and Nevada are untapped. This would allow for as much as a 50 percent increase in capacity over the next 20 years. Geothermal power production is still in its infancy and though it poses a slightly higher investment risk, it also promises higher yields.
Why Should I Invest in Green Energy?
As people become more aware of global warming and the effects of greenhouse gases, alternative forms of eco-friendly energy are becoming more popular. Businesses and civilians alike are looking towards green technology as the way of the future, and these technologies are becoming cheaper and more advanced every day.