The Beginner’s Guide to Renewable Energy

Understanding its basic structure and use

A world that has recently started to pass governmental legislation for renewable energy practices, has fallen short in explaining to the common man what renewable energy really entails.

Where the term has been thrown around flippantly, there has been no effort to educate anyone about alternative energy.

Yet, if you want to have a self-sufficient home, then you need to understand the basics of Renewable energy.

renewable energy

What is renewable energy?

Simply put, renewable energy is using nature or natural elements in order to harness energy and power. The practice has been used since the world began though technologies and the government would have try to make you believe otherwise. There are 5 types of renewable energy sources.

These are Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Hydro Powered energy, Geothermal Energy, and Biomass Energy.

Does this sound a bit familiar to you?

It should. Apart from the biomass, these are the common “earth elements”

  • Wind
  • Earth
  • Rain (or water)
  • Light

Of course, the term renewable energy is a bit of a presumption.

We assume that water will be available, that the sun will not go black, that the wind will blow, and that things will continue to die.

This is one of the platforms for those which are trying to regulate alternative energy.

Yet, it is a safe assumption that these materials are renewable and sustainable past our lifetimes.

However “natural energy” would be a more applicable term.

How does each of these sources provide renewable energy?

Solar Energy

Solar Energy relies upon the heat from the sun to provide power. It has been stated that the solar power which is given off is more in one day then the power generated by fossil fuels in a year.

Typically the solar power is gained from using solar panels to harness the energy. This is transferred to a power source such as a generator, conductor, or battery.

Solar power is the most common form of alternative energy.

Solar power has been used as both the primary energy for many new housing developments as we as a back-up power source for people who do not want to live completely off the grid.

Solar Power is popular because the sun shines everywhere.

Therefore, the solar panels can be used anywhere to generate power.

Solar panels have been used to heat water, to turn on that little calculator on, to power cars, to provide power batteries, and as a primary source of power for survivalists for years.

Wind Power

Wind power works by using turbines to make power. The most familiar for of the wind turbine is the windmill. Although these have been updated to the “modern” design, the concept is the same.

Three large blades rotate with the wind. Through the turning of the blades energy is generated and then transferred to a power source. Where wind power is typically reserved to the manufactured turbine, a survivalist can easily construct a miniature turbine in the style of a windmill, to generate power.

Hydro Power

Water, or hydropower, is the cheapest form of renewable energy yet only accounts for about 10 to 30% of all power generated. Water power must have a moving water source to conduct the power.

The water works side by side with a generator or a convertor in order to convert the energy to useable power. One of the most recognizable hydropower sources would be the Hoover Dam. However, you can use something far less dynamic to harness water power. If you have a moving river or even a wide stream, some of your power can be generated from that source.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy uses the earth to make electricity. Think about it. On a hot day the earth is hot. It retains the temperature of the environment. It is a bit more complicated than that, but that is the main concept. Geothermal Energy requires that a drilled system of ditches be put into place.  Through a series of pumps and an intricate channeling system, the earth conducts electricity which can then be turned into power.


Biofuel energy has gotten a bit of the spotlight in the past decade or so due to the various researches done into using crops and animal waste as a means to produce energy. The main biofuel which most people can identify is Ethanol which is used in most gasoline. The positive side of biofuels is that crops and such can be planned and used for power purposes. The negative side is that if crops are not specifically allocated to power generation, then food crops are minimized and the overall price of food increases as the demand increases.

How does this affect you?

If you are trying to live off the grid then you need to understand the best method of doing so.  Keep in mind also that as legislation passes regarding corporate regulations on renewable energy that these changes will trickle down to the residential off grid living persons. The new bill mandates that each state reduce CO2 and regulate measures which will do so. As such, many companies will be forced to start using solar panels, wind turbines, and hydro power (as these are the most popular) or shut down.  This will result in funding being needed from other sources, and as renewable energy is the reason for such shut-downs then you can expect that renewable energy will be tax to accommodate for the loss.

Can you use only alternative energy to live off the grid?

Absolutely, there have been many individuals which have decided to live completely off of the grid. It is not something that should be entered into lightly, however. Keep in mind that if you convert your house over to an off the grid living residence that you will have no support from local electric departments or utility providers should anything go wrong. Secondly, you still must ensure that you meet zoning and residential laws. Finally, you must have the natural resources to use the renewable energy.

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