Many people think solar energy, the most popular form of renewable energy, is a new concept. The truth is solar panels were used as far back as the 1920s to heat water in lieu of more expensive electrical heating systems.
Renewable Energy Past to Present
When fossil fuels were unearthed, much of the previous solar energy use was abandoned for the cheaper, more reliable fossil fuels. As these fuels began to have an impact on the environment and their levels diminished, a resurgence of the renewable energy sources occurred.
Today, wind farms, solar electrical plants and solar thermal plants are used to power entire towns and cities.
Alternative energy communities are also popping up throughout the world with Canada being the first country to boast of an entire community based on solar energy. Technology is constantly changing and the future definition of renewable energy is also changing.
The Future of Renewable Energy
Everything that moves creates energy. This fact applies to wind, water and sunlight which are the most commonly used renewable energy sources. However, the movement of man is also being viewed as a source of renewable energy.
Speed bumps that harvest kinetic energy are one concept currently being tested by New Energy Technologies. The “bumps” are actually an inversion of the typical motion inhibitors. These flat panels sink slightly into the ground when a car passes over. The bump is created by the difference in height between the road and the lowered panel.
Under the panel, 2000 watts of instant energy is created for every passing car. With 1000 cars passing over the speed bump every day, 2,000,000 watts or 2000 kilowatts are produced every day.
Over the course of a month, that number jumps to 60,000 kilowatts. That is enough electricity to power 60 average homes for an entire month!
This type of kinetic energy harvesting is not limited to speed bumps. In Israel, roadways are being tested that collect small amounts of energy as cars pass over the special roadway surface.
The amount of energy is small, at an average of 400 kilowatts per kilometer (0.6 miles). While this does not seem like a lot of energy, if the entire United States interstate system were converted to kinetic energy harvesting material, the 75,000 km would produce 30,000,000 kilowatts of power. That is one very new and innovative definition of renewable energy!
The world is just beginning to see the potential kinetic energy has as a renewable source of electricity. Tokyo is installing flooring that harvests energy from daily subway visitors. Dance clubs are utilizing the energy created from movement on the floor to harvest energy.
Even asphalt is being considered as a prime material for harvesting thermal energy in desert climates where roadways can reach temperatures hot enough to fry an egg.
There are an abundant supply of new and innovative renewable energy solutions available to help us to transition our world to more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Even today there are many new technologies that can help us to heat our homes, recharge our batteries and light our yards using clean, green energy sources.