Renewable energy has been a term which has gained a lot of momentum over the years.
Those which are trying off the grid living often look to renewable energy sources to provide a sustainable yet self-efficient way of living.
However, what renewable energy options are available and what is the best option?
The 5 types of Renewable Energy
There are 5 main types of renewable energy. Of course, off of each of these there are variations and each of these have their pros and cons.
Here they are:
- Wind Power
- Solar Power
- Geothermal Energy
- Hydroelectric Power
When looking at this list, most people will be familiar with solar power and wind power.
However, unless you have researched renewable energy, you may not have heard about the other three.
So let us break down each section to better understand what the category entails.
1) Wind Power
Wind Power is created by harnessing the wind through a turbine.
The most ancient of wind power devices would be the windmill.
Modernization has removed the building from the windmill but has retained the concept.
Put a three blade rotating apparatus in an area that has a constant Windstream (as opposed to places where air is non-moving) and use the energy created from the turbine to make power.
Consideration should be taken to the size requirements of a turbine.
Generally, they are rather large. Added to the massive height, you will need to have enough clearance for the blades. Wind power does best in places which have a ton of yard space (as funny as it would be I do not think a wind turbine would go over well in suburbia).
2) Solar Power
Solar power is the most popular choice for off grid living.
The concept is rather simple.
The sun as we know gives off energy.
Solar panels suck up the energy like a sponge and then convert that into power. What makes solar power so popular is that solar panels come in a diverse range of shapes and sizes. For example: Have you ever used a solar powered calculator?
The panel is rather small. However, the same technology is used in photovoltaic panels, solar collectors, and solar sheeting.
From a versatility point of view, solar panels are superior to most types of Renewable energy. Survivalists can use the same solar panel to heat a cup of water that they use to warm a blanket or power a flashlight.
The only downside to solar power is that the stored power tends to fade rather quickly and in the event of a cloudy season (or if you are in dense areas where light is scarce) you will not have power for long.
Biomass energy is the oldest form of renewable energy available. In this process plants and animal “waste” are used to create power.
The benefit is that the sources of the plant waste can regenerate quickly. The most popular of biomass energy right now is ethanol which comes from corn.
If you are living off the grid, biomass energy will be your most realistic choice.
Manure can be burned to create biopower. Wood can be used to make paper which can then be burned for heat. Sap can also be used to create energy.
The concern for biomass power is that (1) it can create a demand that supply cannot keep up with.
In other words if you use all the wood up in an area, where do you get more?
If you kill an animal and use the fat and skin where do the next group of animals come from?
That being stated, those which want to go with the extreme rugged off the grid living should opt for finding biomass options for their power and energy.
4) Geothermal Energy
Geothermal heating and cooling system uses a series of pipes and a pump in order to create energy.
The power is generated from the ground by digging trenches and boreholes. These trenches then fill with water and absorb the heat.
To utilize the heating and cooling energy of geothermal devices, an underfloor heating system will need to be put into place.
This may be quite costly depending on the home being used.
Additionally, the tubes required to lay such a system are rather lengthy and so development is not likely to be approved in areas where residences are in close proximity.
5) Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectric Power is just like it sounds.
It is power which is conducted from water (hydro).
It is the most used renewable energy in the world, accommodating for 20% of all electricity consumption (does the Hoover Dam sound familiar?).
The benefits of hydroelectric power are that it has little effect upon the land.
For off grid living this is essential to survival. The less amount of land your energy effect, the more land you have to live off of.
Also, unlike other energy methods hydro energy is rather safe. All you need is water and a turbine or generator to create the power.
The downside to hydroelectric power is that it is quite expensive to set up. That and you have to have a water source in which to harness the power from.
Of course, in residential areas you may have to get zoning and licensing clearance in order to use such energy.
Furthermore, droughts or up water developments may limit your ability to produce water substantially.
What is the best option?
To determine which renewable energy to use you need to first asses the space requirements for the system.
Secondly, determine the natural resources required to operate the system.
Obviously, you would not want to have a biomass technology in an area where crop growth is difficult.
The best option in my opinion is solar power energy.
The sun is available in all areas (unless you live in a cave), and the panels are so diverse that both the prepper and just someone that wants to live off the grid can benefit.