Over time, mankind has adopted new ways of generating sufficient energy in order to lower pollution and damage to animals, vegetation, water, and overall health of the planet. Without a clean environment free of toxins, we’ve been faced with adverse health effects such as illnesses and infections, as well as poor air and water quality. With clean energy becoming more and more prevalent in modern society, we’re now on the cusp of a major green revitalization.
History of Clean Energy
Wind has been utilized for thousands of years, most notably to power ships with sails. During the 1800s, this enabled civilizations to ship goods and people to one another across our vast oceans, which inspired Professor James Blyth of Glasgow’s Andersen College to design and build the world’s first electricity-producing windmill in July 1887. Hydroelectricity also has an interesting past, as many aren’t aware that it was first conceived and tested back in 1878 in Northumberland, England by William George Armstrong. This turned into a trend brought about by the industrial revolution, resulting in 45 hydroelectric stations operating in the U.S and Canada by 1886. In 1889, there were over 200 in the U.S alone.
Under the impression that coal would become scarce due to high consumption by steamships and industries, Charles Fritts conceived the world’s first rooftop photovoltaic solar array, which used 1%-efficient selenium cells. After his test on a New York City roof in 1884, solar energy generation was left on the back burner due to the affordability and availability of alternatives such as coal and petroleum. It wasn’t until the 1973 oil embargo and 1979 energy crisis that various countries reorganized energy policies around the world and brought renewed attention to developing solar power solutions. Photovoltaic systems grew in popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but pace was slowed due to falling oil prices until 1996, which resulted in supply issues in the early 2000s that made solar energy a more viable and necessary alternative.
Residential and Commercial Clean Energy Options
In households, solar panels are increasingly popular and affordable, with companies taking advantage of the eco-friendly trend and adjusting prices to suit due to demand. Affixed to roofs most commonly, solar panels can easily provide a typical home’s 1 kilowatt of normally consumed power with just a few feet of operational paneling. Other residential alternatives include installing a wind turbine if water flows through your property, or installing a small wind turbine to power your home with relative ease.
Commercial options for clean energy generation vary wildly, depending on how much applicable space and/or capital an organization has. Solar panel farms or rooftop systems are becoming massively popular due to their effectiveness and relative affordability. Wind power farms are still used as well, though normally by larger commercial bodies to serve as a central power station for nearby related business developments. Solar water heaters are also being more commonly used, which are a soft energy technology that is affixed on or near specific buildings to supply energy.
Benefits of Clean Energy Use
Many incentives are provided for the adoption of environmentally friendly energy generation methods, such as rent payouts of up to $5000 per wind turbine on properties in the United States. Green tax rebates and programs in Canada and the U.S. also serve as a way of continually renewing interest in clean energy usage, such as Ontario’s Home Energy Conservation (HEC) Program. Of course, putting economical benefits aside, the continued adoption of clean energy enables for enhanced efficiency, lower energy bills, cleaner air and water, and a healthier overall living and working environment.
As clean energy production through solar, hydroelectric, and wind power continues to grow and thrive across the world, cities and their inhabitants are lowering their collective consumption through efficiency. If we continue to pursue clean energy as a viable alternative, it will be beneficial for society as a whole.