Renewable Energy

  • Roger James Kuhns
  • George H. Shaw


Renewable energy encompasses the fundamental means of producing clean energy for the new clean energy economy. The goal of using these forms of energy is to work towards electrification of our activities in life and work and to stop burning natural resources to produce that electricity. This means non-emitting renewable energy for generation of electricity. From early and non-cost-effective beginnings 50 years ago, renewable energy systems have become cost-competitive, or nearly so, and have as a sector produced nearly three quarters of a million new jobs in the past few years. Renewable energy sources, mainly wind, solar PV, and hydropower (which has been cost-effective for centuries), now comprise just over 15% of domestic electrical generation. A unique aspect of renewable energy sources is that many can be scaled to home or business use, to city scale, and even to regional grid scale applications. In fact a half dozen US cities are already utilizing renewable energy for 100% of their electricity needs, and a dozen more are on schedule to achieve this in the short term. Hydropower continues to be an important component of renewable resources, especially in regions of high rainfall and already existing dams and reservoirs. Reservoirs can be utilized as a pump-storage mechanism for meeting peak energy needs to bolster other energy storage systems, such as batteries for wind and solar. The use of biomass to generate ethanol for transportation represents a midterm bridging solution to fossil fuels and perhaps a long-term resource for liquid fuel needs in select sectors. Scaling up such renewables as solar PV to supply electricity to entire communities is being accomplished in the southwest, where nearly a million homes are supplied their electricity through six large solar farms in California and Arizona. There are also significant moves to integrate renewables, in particular rooftop solar PVs, with microgrid arrays in large cities. Renewable energy resources are a key part of a comprehensive sustainable energy policy for the United States.


Renewable Solar Wind Clean energy Electricity Pump-storage/pumped storage PV Photovoltaic Hydropower Reservoirs Geothermal Biomass Natural gas NREL Resource 


  1. Bloomberg (2015) Solar cost in 2040, lower investment in solar up to $3.7 trillion. BNEF: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Energy Trend. Accessed 9 May 2016
  2. EIA (2016) Electric power monthly: energy information administration. Accessed 12 July 2017
  3. EIA (2017) Monthly energy review: energy information administration. Accessed 12 July 2017
  4. GLBRC (2017) Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Accessed 5 Aug 2017
  5. Kemp WH (2005) The renewable energy handbook – a guide to rural energy independence, off-grid and sustainable living. Aztext Press/New Society Publishers, Ontario, 567pGoogle Scholar
  6. LEED (2017) Leadership in energy and environmental design. Accessed 8 May 2017
  7. NREL (2004) What is the energy payback for PV? National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. Accessed 5 June 2016
  8. NREL (2008) Energy analysis. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Accessed 5 June 2016
  9. NREL (2012) Renewable Energy Data Book: Energy Efficiency & and Renewable Energy: U.S. Dept. of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 127p. Accessed 4 Aug 2017
  10. NREL (2015) Photovoltaic system pricing trends; historical, recent and near-term projections, 2015 edn. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Accessed 5 June 2016
  11. NREL (2016) Renewable electricity futures study. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Accessed 5 June 2016
  12. Obama B (2017) The irreversible momentum of clean energy: science, policy forum, January 9 (aam6284). Accessed 15 Jan 2017
  13. Tester JW, Drake EM, Driscoll MJ, Golay MW, Peters WA 2012 Sustainable energy – choosing among options, 2nd edn. MIT press, Cambridge, 1019pGoogle Scholar
  14. U.S.DOE (2017) U.S. energy and employment report 2017. U.S. Department of Energy. Accessed 18 July 2017
  15. Wilt S, De Costanzo D (2017) NYC’s new solar milestone: 100 megawatts and counting. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), May 10. Accessed 14 May 2017

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger James Kuhns
    • 1
  • George H. Shaw
    • 2
  1. 1.SustainAudit, LLCMysticUSA
  2. 2.Geology DepartmentUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

Personalised recommendations