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What is a "renewable energy source"?

Using Green Power

Ed Begley, Jr. (Environmental Activist) gives expert video advice on: What is a "renewable energy source"? and more...

What is a "renewable energy source"?

Renewable energy sources are wind, solar and geothermal power – these are all considered renewable energy sources. Hydro is certainly considered a renewable energy source as well. Large hydro has great costs; smaller hydro is preferable. They're all renewable energy sources by nature of the fact they can be replenished. They will not run out on you as quickly as fossil fuels, for instance, that take millions of years to create. All energy is solar energy; it all comes from the sun, and it's stored. Fossil fuels were created during the Carboniferous period and stored as coal and crude oil. So wonderful, let's use it up, and Ed just said it's all solar energy -- let's use solar energy in the form of crude oil. Great, you can do that, but there's a price to be paid for using all that up that quickly, and this energy is not reneweable. The price is air pollution, the price is unstable regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere and the price is certainly running out of this wonderful non-renewable solar energy stored in crude oil quickly. Why should you have a big party and burn it up in these low miles-per-gallon vehicles so quickly? You may need it thirty years from now, you may need a hundred years from now… some of that wonderful crude oil, that wonderful resource. Don't burn it up --you may want to make notebook computers out of it, you may want to make medical supplies out of it.

What renewable energy sources do you use on a daily basis?

I know that renewable energy works because I've been using it for quite a while. I know that wind power works because I've owned a windmilll in the California desert since 1985. My small share in that wind farm has put out ten homes worth of power, clean, green power since 1985. I know that renweable solar hot water works - solar-heated water to warm your pool or spa or for showers and laundry. Renewable solar energy has certainly been heating my water since 1985. I know that solar electric works because its been making my electricity since 1990, charging my electric car and running my house. Renewable energy works. We need to embrace them as quickly as possible. Everybody that has the means should go out and buy renewable energy sources. Buy into solar, electric, wind, whatever you can afford. If more people do it, it' going to drive the market in the right direction, the price will come down and more and more people will be able to afford to use renewable energy.

What new "green energy technologies" are you excited about?

I am very excited about some energy conservation measures that are suddenly now very affordable and very available to a lot of the population. By that, I mean smart switches. When you leave the house you just hit one switch and all your non-essential stuff goes off. It's a wireless system. You can have one outlet with two plugs in it. You think "What? I can't I've got my VCR in one plug and I don't want the clock to be reset every time I come home. I can't turn that off. I've got to have my answering machine plugged in there as well and I've got to leave that whole outlet "ON"." No, now you can separate them out. You can have different power strips, in that you can have top half of the switch stay ON when you are gone, because you have your answering machine on that, your VCR, or something that has a clock in it; and in the bottom half of that same two plug outlet you can have totally switched off. Everything: all that other stuff on the power strip that you had running; all this stuff that you don't need. When you make a list of all the stuff that you really need ON when you leave the house, there are not many things. Say, if you have automatic sprinklers for your lawn, you have a fax machine, and an answering machine. So, you've got 6 or 7 things perhaps, things with clocks for example, maybe 10 -12 things in your house that mustn't be subject to the risk of being turned off. You don't need to have your TV 'instant ON' right away so that it can come on just the second that you press that button. It's using a lot of power. It will certainly be available to you 'instant ON' by the time you walk into the house and touch the button on your way into the house, and hours later by the time you make it into bedroom, it becomes an 'Instant ON' TV again. So, it's these sorts of green energy technologies that I am very excited about; some of the smart switch technology that's going to enable people to save a tremendous amount of energy.