What Is Renewable Energy?
By definition, renewable energy is "clean" - producing few or no hazardous emissions or pollutants, and having minimal impact on fragile ecosystems.
While each of these can be used to generate electricity, only hydro and biomass currently provide a significant amount of power [see chart below] - but that fact will change in the coming decades.
In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, green power could have major economic advantages as well:
- It decreases our dependence on foreign oil imports and the resulting price fluctuations.
- It reduces the need for costly emissions controls.
- It provides new energy markets and creates new jobs.
The financial impact could be significant in the Midwest. Switchgrass and other biomass materials provide an alternative crop option, animal waste and crop residues can be sold and reused, and the construction of wind farms or other green power facilities creates jobs and local rural economies.