What Creates New Energy?

As the world’s population grows and developing countries expand their economies, the global demand for energy continues to rise. Traditional energy sources like oil, coal and natural gas are limited in supply and carry concerning environmental impacts. Developing new sources of clean, renewable energy is crucial for meeting the world’s needs today and into the future in a sustainable way.

New energy generally refers to renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy that are constantly replenished and produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in these emerging energy technologies, we can reduce dependence on fossil fuels, stimulate economic growth, improve energy security and mitigate climate change. The development of new energy sources also leads to technological innovations, job creation and infrastructure improvements that benefit society.

In the following sections, we will explore some of the most promising new energy technologies and how they are fundamentally changing the way we power our world.

Solar Power

Solar power harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it into electricity. This is done through the use of photovoltaic cells, which are made from materials like silicon that absorb photons from sunlight and release electrons. The electrons flow through the material to produce an electric current.

Solar panels consist of many photovoltaic cells wired together. They can be installed on rooftops or ground-mounted systems to generate electricity. As sunlight hits the panels, the cells convert the solar energy into usable electricity that can power homes, businesses, and the grid.

Solar power has experienced massive growth over the last decade, with global capacity rising from 40 gigawatts in 2010 to over 580 gigawatts by the end of 2019. This growth is expected to continue as solar electricity becomes increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Key drivers include technological improvements, manufacturing scale, supportive policies, and falling costs.

Wind Power

Wind power harnesses the kinetic energy of wind to generate clean and renewable electricity. Wind turbines convert the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power to drive an electrical generator. Wind power can be generated both onshore and offshore.
solar panels generate renewable energy from the sun

Onshore wind farms use turbines erected on land to capture wind energy. They are one of the most prevalent forms of renewable energy worldwide. The wind speed is usually stronger and less turbulent at higher altitudes, so onshore wind turbines are usually 80-120 meters tall. There are now over 300,000 onshore wind turbines worldwide.

Offshore wind farms use larger turbines erected in bodies of water, usually oceans or large lakes. Offshore wind speeds are faster than onshore, allowing offshore turbines to generate more energy. However, constructing and maintaining offshore wind farms is more expensive. There are currently over 35,000 offshore wind turbines globally.

Global wind power capacity has increased rapidly over the last decade. Total worldwide wind capacity has gone from 121 gigawatts in 2008 to over 743 gigawatts in 2020. Wind power has proven to be one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources. Many countries are investing heavily in wind power to meet clean energy targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The future growth outlook for wind power remains strong.

Hydro Power

Hydroelectric power, or hydro power, is one of the oldest and most widely used renewable energy sources. It converts the energy of flowing water into electricity by passing it through a hydro turbine that is connected to a generator.

Most hydroelectric facilities are dam-based. Dams help create reservoirs that control water flow and provide water pressure to spin the turbines. Hydroelectric dams impede the flow of rivers and store enormous amounts of water in reservoirs. Water is released from a higher elevation through spillways and turbines further downriver to generate electricity. The amount of electricity that can be generated depends on both the volume of water flow and the height of the fall.

Pumped storage hydropower is a type of hydropower that works like a battery, pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir for storage. When electricity demand is high, power companies release the stored water through turbines to generate electricity. Pumped storage allows energy from intermittent sources like wind and solar to be stored and dispatched when needed.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy harnesses heat from the earth’s core to generate renewable power. The high temperatures deep beneath the earth’s surface provide a nearly unlimited supply of heat that can be tapped into to produce electricity.

Geothermal power plants are built above geothermal reservoirs located several miles or more underground. Wells are drilled into the reservoirs to pump hot underground water or steam to the surface. The steam rotates turbines that activate generators, which produce electricity. After being used, the cooled water is returned back into the earth to be reheated.

The geothermal reservoirs used for power production are rare and found in geologically active areas, like western states in the U.S., Iceland, New Zealand, and parts of Africa and Central America. Enhanced geothermal systems can be engineered in other areas by injecting water into hot dry rocks deep under the earth’s surface to produce steam. Geothermal plants generate clean, renewable power around the clock and have very low emissions.


Bioenergy refers to renewable energy derived from organic matter, known as biomass. Biomass can be used to produce transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, burned directly for heat and electricity, or processed into biogas. There are several sources of biomass:

Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are produced by converting biomass from plants and agricultural waste into liquid fuels that can power vehicles and generators. Ethanol is made by fermenting sugar or starch crops like corn and sugarcane. Biodiesel is made by processing oils from crops like soybeans, palm oil, and canola.

Biomass refers to any organic material from plants or animals. It can be burned directly to produce heat and electricity. Examples include wood chips, agricultural waste, and garbage. Biomass contains stored energy from the sun that is released when burned.

Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic wastes from landfills, livestock, and water treatment plants. This process uses microorganisms to break down biomass in an oxygen-free environment, releasing methane gas that can be captured and used for energy.

Bioenergy is considered renewable because the organic matter it is derived from can be easily replenished on a human timescale. As plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. When biomass is burned, this carbon cycle is repeated, making bioenergy a low-carbon energy source. With proper management, bioenergy can provide clean energy while also supporting agricultural markets and waste reduction.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells are an emerging technology that show great promise as a clean energy source. Fuel cells work by converting the chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity through a chemical reaction.

Inside a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined across an electrochemical cell similar to a battery. The hydrogen reacts with a catalyst, causing it to split into protons and electrons. The electrons provide the electricity, while the protons combine with oxygen to form water. This electrochemical process does not involve any combustion or burning, so fuel cells are very clean and efficient.

To power fuel cells, pure hydrogen gas needs to be produced. The most common methods are steam reforming of natural gas, or electrolysis of water. The hydrogen can then be compressed or liquefied for storage and transport. While producing the hydrogen does result in some emissions, the fuel cell itself releases only water vapor as waste when generating electricity.

Hydrogen fuel cells have a wide range of applications. They can be used in vehicles, replacing internal combustion engines in cars, buses and forklifts. Stationary fuel cells can provide clean power in homes, offices, and factories. Fuel cells can also provide backup power, off-grid electricity, and power for remote locations.

With continuing advances in production, storage, and materials, hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to play a major role in building a clean energy economy. Their ability to provide carbon-free power on demand helps overcome the intermittency issues of renewable power sources like solar and wind.

Tidal Power

Tidal power utilizes the movement of ocean tides to generate electricity. As ocean tides ebb and flow, they create powerful currents that can be harnessed for energy production. Tidal power stations are typically built near estuaries or inlets where tidal currents are strongest.

The most common form of tidal power involves tidal turbines, which resemble underwater windmills. As tides flow in and out, turbine blades spin and turn a generator to produce electricity. Tidal turbines can be mounted to the seafloor or floated on platforms.

Tidal power is renewable and predictable, since tidal movements can be forecast far in advance. Tidal turbines also have a low environmental impact compared to other renewable sources. However, tidal power facilities are expensive to build and only a handful of commercial-scale projects exist worldwide.

Key locations for tidal power include the Bay of Fundy in Canada, Rance River in France, and Sihwa Lake in South Korea. As technology improves and costs decline, tidal power has the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the world’s renewable energy portfolio.

Wave Power

Wave power is a form of renewable energy that harnesses the kinetic energy of ocean surface waves and converts it into electricity. Waves are caused by wind passing over the surface of the ocean, and this energy can be captured and used as a sustainable power source.

There are several types of technologies used for wave energy conversion. One involves using floaters that rise and fall with the waves. This motion drives hydraulic pumps that in turn drive generators to produce electricity. Another method uses oscillating water columns. As waves pass through an opening into an air-filled chamber, the water column rises and falls, forcing air through a turbine to generate power.

Wave energy conversion holds great potential, especially for coastal communities. According to studies, wave energy worldwide could have the capacity to generate up to 2 terawatts of electricity, or about double current global electricity production. However, wave power technologies are still in relatively early stages of development compared to other renewables. Challenges around generating consistent and reliable energy from always-changing waves, as well as building durable equipment to withstand harsh ocean conditions, remain ongoing areas of innovation.


In summary, there are many promising new sources of renewable energy being developed to help meet the world’s growing energy needs in a sustainable way. Solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, bioenergy, hydrogen, tidal, and wave power all have the potential to generate clean electricity or fuel. While some technologies are more mature and widely adopted, others are still emerging and being refined. But collectively, they offer a path towards a greener energy mix that relies less on polluting fossil fuels.

The future looks bright for renewables to play an expanding role in the global energy landscape. Costs for solar and wind power in particular have come down dramatically, making them competitive with conventional power. With continued innovation and investment, other renewables can follow suit. There is still work to be done building out supporting infrastructure and overcoming intermittency challenges. But the technology exists today for renewables to displace far more carbon-emitting sources of energy. With the right policies, market mechanisms and political will, new renewables can deliver major environmental and economic benefits. Their full potential remains to be seen, but they offer genuine promise for cleaner, sustainable energy production.

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