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Our Energy Choices: Renewable Energy

The movement of wind and water, the heat and light of the sun, the carbohydrates in plants, and the warmth in the Earth—all are energy sources that can supply our needs in a sustainable way.  A variety of methods are used to convert these renewable resources into electricity. Each comes with its own unique set of technologies, benefits, and challenges.

Wind Power

Wind turbines harness air currents and convert them to emissions-free power. Plentiful and inexhaustible in the United States and around the world, wind power is one of the fastest growing renewable technologies and has the potential to provide a significant portion of our electricity needs.

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How Wind Energy Works
Energy You Can Count On: Tapping Into Wind Power

Solar Power

Solar energy—power from the sun—is a vast and inexhaustible resource. Just 20 days of sunshine contains more energy than the world’s entire supply of coal, oil, and natural gas. A range of technologies is used to convert the sun’s energy into electricity, including solar collectors and photovoltaic panels.

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Solar on the Rise: The Technologies and Policies behind a Booming Energy Sector
Infographic: Affordable, Available Rooftop Solar
How Solar Energy Works
Solar Water Heating

Biomass

Biomass—plant material and animal waste—is one of the oldest sources of renewable energy, used since our ancestors learned the secret of fire. Now we have the technology to efficiently convert it to electricity.

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How Biomass Energy Works

Geothermal Energy

Heat from the earth can be used as an energy source in many ways, from large and complex power stations to small and relatively simple residential pumping systems.

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How Geothermal Energy Works

Hydroelectric Power

Using dams to exploit the movement of water for electricity, known as hydroelectric power, is the largest source of renewable power in the United States and worldwide.

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How Hydroelectric Energy Works

Hydrokinetic Energy

The power of moving water is obvious to anyone who has stood amidst breaking waves or struggled to swim against a river’s current. New technologies enable us to harness the might of rivers, tides, and waves for electricity.

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How Hydrokinetic Energy Works

Is Nuclear Power Clean Energy? Yes and no.

Nuclear power is “clean” from an emissions standpoint—nuclear power plants produce no air pollution or global warming emissions when they operate—but nuclear power has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to human health and the environment in the event of a meltdown or other disaster.

Learn more about the risks and potential of nuclear power.

 Benefits and Impacts of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has the potential to reduce pollution, slow global warming, create new industries and jobs, and move America toward a cleaner, healthier energy future. But renewable energy is not without its challenges and impacts.

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