Times are tough. Whether you’re a homemaker trying to make ends meet or the owner of a huge corporation keeping up with staggering electricity rates, finding cheaper renewable energy sources is good news. We’ve all heard of renewable energy sources making their way into the global market as the next big thing. Majority of us think of solar power when alternative energy is the topic of conversation – the truth is there are a lot of other cheaper alternative forms of energy that we don’t know a lot about. It’s time to get up close and learn more about these alternatives before coming up with a decision that might streamline our industries, our businesses, and the way we live in general.Solar - Looking at renewable energy sources

The Costs of Different Renewable Energy Sources

1. Hydroelectric Energy
From the word itself, this is energy that is generated through running water through turbines in a dam. Every kwh produced costs about 9 cents in most territories. This is half of the cost of today’s solar panels, which have become such crowd favorites. For instance, the Hoover Dam is said to sell every kwh for nothing more than 1.6 cents – that’s less than 2 pennies.

2. Wind Energy
There’s been a lot of naysayers rooting against wind energy. They said that wind mills kill bats and birds. Some even suggest they cause headaches in people. All of these are nothing but rumors. Here’s one fact – this type of power is a lot cheaper than solar electricity. The EIA estimates that wind energy costs about 10 cents per kwh. Overseas, the European Wind Energy Association tells us that there are projects on their side of the fence where each kwh is nothing more than 5 cents.

3. Geothermal Energy
This uses the difference between the almost-constant temperatures underground and the temperatures above ground to produce energy. Since the equipment required to produce this type of power has to buried underground, geothermal power costs a lot more in terms of maintenance. However, the total costs are estimated at just 10 cents per kwh – the same with wind energy and not that far from hydroelectricity. Then again, this is also cheaper than solar power. Case in point: in California, the Geysers Power Plant sells a kwh for just 3 cents.

4. Nuclear Energy
We’ve been hearing about nuclear power plants since the early 50s, so this type of power doesn’t necessarily strike us as the “alternative” kind. Still, this doesn’t produce harmful greenhouse gases when producing energy. Estimated at 11 cents per kwh, electrons are generated by nuclear reactors – the latest technology that we know today. All over France, nuclear power is sold for just 5 cents a kwh.

5. Coal Energy
When talking about bringing down electricity rates with alternative forms of power, coal energy always come to mind. Coal is burned in high-tech facilities to get rid of all pollutants, creating what is known as “clean coal” (which might sound oxymoronic to many). The EIA says that taking the costs of creating clean coal using the latest equipment today will add to the total cost of operations. On top of this, technology is still being developed as we speak to further improve the process of sequestering carbon emissions and injecting these deep underground to prevent leakage. Add all of these factors together to the cost of the coal itself, and we should come up with 13 cents per kwh – almost half the price of solar power.

Why Renewable Energy Sources Are Important

First off, there are the many environmental benefits. These sources of energy are CLEAN sources, having minimal impact on the environment compared to conventional sources of energy.
Secondly, these sources are not just for our current generation – they are here for our children, and our children’s children. As the name suggests, renewable energy sources will never run out, unlike more conventional sources which may deplete some day.

Thirdly, with the state of our economy today, renewable energy sources allow us to spend resources on buildings and maintaining facilities instead of wasting too much money on imported energy. These sources are often spent within the country, and usually within the same state or town. This means the costs are directed back home to aid local economies and create jobs instead of going overseas. This also helps bridge the gap in the current trade deficit in the U.S.

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Mark Hallway believes that in time, the majority of people will switch to clean renewable energy. He has been writing about the many benefits of these energy sources. Read more of his articles on his site, Aussie Solar.

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