How Eco-Friendly Electric Generators Are Revolutionizing the Energy Industry

Introduction

The sustainable and clean power movement is at the center of the profound changes that the energy industry is currently experiencing. A key part of this shift is the development and growing interest in electric power generation. Unlike fossil fuel power plants, electric power generators do not produce large amounts of fugitive emissions. They also afford an opportunity to use electricity for many of the direct processes in which fossil fuels have traditionally been used. And they offer another advantage. Electric power is many times more reliable and resilient than the fossil fuel energy infrastructure.

The Rise of Renewable Energy

The energy industry has relied on fossil fuels for a long time. These fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—have been the “workhorses” of the energy sector. They’re used to generate the large amounts of electricity that the world consumes. However, burning fossil fuels is also the main human cause of climate change. These fuels have also been potent producers of air pollution. The energy industry is now in the middle of a major shift away from dirty, old fossil fuels and toward super-clean forms of electricity generation. At the lead of this shift are ultra-modern electric power plants run by so—called “renewable” energy sources.

Types of Eco-Friendly Electric Generators

  • Sunlight can be turned into electricity using the energy present in photons, particles of light. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are the most common way to do this. They’re made of semiconducting materials that, when struck by sunlight, turn the energy of the light into electrical current.
  • Sunlight can be turned into electricity in two different ways using two different kinds of semiconducting materials in a panel—that’s the so-called direct method. The flat, plate-like PV panel systems are what most people think of as solar power. But it’s also possible to use the energy of the light indirectly, using hybrid systems that are part sunlight part something-else—say, concentrated solar power.

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Electric Generators

Eco-friendly power generators have a much-reduced carbon footprint, which significantly benefits the environment in multiple ways. The sector as a whole produces very little carbon emissions, and in many cases, those emissions are netted out in the form of carbon sequestration by the plants these generators are installed in. NREL (the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) pegs the environmental benefit of energy plants installed with eco-friendly generators at being a 91% reduction in carbon emissions from the average forms of electricity generation. Eco-friendly generators are also much more fuel-efficient, as testimony from Natural Gas Power Systems and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attests.

Challenges and Future Outlook

The advent of environmentally friendly power generation plants certainly has tangible benefits, but let’s not forget meeting the cost—an upfront mighty dollar for most. Then there is the performance—what happens when the wind is not blowing steadily? A team from the University of Delaware led by Cristina Archer, for example, recently found that an off-the-shelf 100-megawatt wind farm might make only 60-megawatts worth of power overall, when all the fluctuations in the wind are taken into consideration.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Wind […] directly saves lives and money.”

Conclusion

The energy industry is being shaken up by eco-friendly electric generators, offering a cleaner, more sustainable, and dependable replacement for traditional power sources. These next-gen generators are also reducing our carbon emissions and making our energy supply more secure. In sum, they are an essential cog in the economic growth necessary for the “infinite” time scale (if you will) of the current energy transition.

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