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Renewable Energy Technologies for Power Generation

Power generation systems using renewable resources — the sun, wind, water, organic matter, and geothermal energy — have some advantages over traditional fossil-fuel-powered generation systems.

Most renewable power technologies do not produce greenhouse gases and emit far less pollution than burning oil and coal to generate electricity. With the exception of biomass technologies, the fuel source is free, and indigenous renewable energy sources also represent a secure and stable source of energy for our country.

Renewable energy technologies also have some disadvantages. Solar and wind power are variable — they don't produce power if the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing — although this issue can be mitigated through the use of energy storage technologies, or through the interconnection of systems dispersed over a large geographical area, to smooth out the local effects of weather.

The fuel source may be free in most cases, but the generating equipment itself typically has a higher up-front cost than fossil-fuel-powered alternatives. Taken over the lifetime of the generating equipment, however, the cost of electricity produced from renewable sources is, in some cases, lower than the cost of generating power from conventional sources, and each renewable energy technology is already economically feasible in certain applications.

In distributed applications, "direct use" renewable energy technologies — providing water or space heating, for example — can be used to reduce overall demand for electricity.

Pursue the following links to learn more about the leading renewable energy technologies used for distributed power generation: