Renewable energy has long sat like a mirage on the horizon, urging us all to follow the idea, but then moving just out of reach. It sounds wonderful – energy for living generated from clean, sustainable sources tapped by innovative technology. While lots of renewable ideas work in the laboratory, it has been harder to replicate them efficiently on a large scale. Are we starting to turn a corner, though? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a full 10 percent of energy consumed is now provided by renewable sources, as of 2015. That is a significant amount. Let’s look at the emerging sources that are driving that number. 
The concept of biomass as a source for renewable energy is starting to become a big deal. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) says it provides 23 percent of all renewable energy consumed. Biomass refers to anything that stores sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Sounds more complicated than it is. Wood is a biomass, as is algae, and solid waste from your local city dump.
Sometimes we forget but the inside of our planet is one big ball of heated rock and molten materials, some lurking just a few miles below the surface. This heat might eventually provide an inexhaustible supply of energy once large-scale harvesting systems are developed. For now, let’s keep our eyes on this one.
Energy can be harvested and put to use anywhere there is movement. Nowhere is that concept more evident than oceanic tides and waves. Since oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface, this mechanical energy is easily available to almost any nation that wants to take advantage of it. Landlocked countries can focus on flowing rivers and streams to achieve the same effect.
The idea of reaping energy from the sun has been with us for a long time, but with the price of associated technology to use it falling in recent years, solar energy is generating newfound interest. Here’s an interesting statistic from the DOE. The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in 1.5 hours is enough to power the entire world’s energy consumption for one year. Where do we sign up?
Wind energy is another ancient idea that is getting a new life through modern technology. Found everywhere on earth to some extent, wind is created by the uneven solar heating of the atmosphere, irregular surface features like mountains and valleys, and the planet’s revolution around the sun. Wind energy is already used to charge batteries, generate electricity, pump water, and grind grain, to name a few. The room to expand is out there.
Human cultures have relied on finite (and none too clean) energy sources like fossil fuels for a long time now. Part of the delay in switching to renewable energy has been in developing efficient, cost-effective, reliable systems that don’t depend on government financial support. It seems that we may be getting closer than ever to a tipping point, though don’t expect it to happen in one fell swoop. More likely, we’ll wake up one day and realize most of our energy comes from something besides dead dinosaurs.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Econoheat., the world’s #1 leading waste oil heaters manufacturer.