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Green Power: Energy Sources

Zero emission green power is generated from renewable energy sources without creating air pollution.

Sun

Solar radiation that reaches Earth's surface can generate electricity in several ways. Photovoltaic systems use semiconductors to convert light to electricity. Solar concentrators heat water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity.

Wind

The kinetic energy of wind can be harnessed to generate electricity using wind turbines of many different sizes and applications.

Water Flowing water can be directed through hydropower turbines to generate electricity.
Earth In a typical geothermal facility, heat from within the Earth heats water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity.
Tide
Tidal power facilities operate by focusing the tides' daily cycles of movement into an electricity generator.
Waves In a wave power facility, a water column moves up and down to turn a turbine to generate electricity.
Ocean The thermal energy of the ocean can be harnessed to generate electricity. Closed-cycle systems use the ocean's warm surface water to vaporize a working fluid, which then expands and turns a turbine. Open-cycle systems boil seawater to produce steam for use in a turbine.

Other green power is generated from renewable energy sources while producing some air pollution.

Biomass In a typical biomass facility, waste wood is burned to heat water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. Biomass facilities emit air pollution, but use a renewable fuel source.
Landfill Gas
Landfills produce potent greenhouse gases like methane, which can be captured and used to generate electricity. In a typical landfill gas facility, the combustion of these gases is used to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. Landfill gas facilities emit air pollution, including nitrogen oxides, but use a waste gas fuel source that would otherwise contribute to global climate change.
Municipal Waste
In a typical municipal waste incinerator facility, waste from many sources (including construction, residential and business trash) is burned, creating steam to turn generating turbines. All waste-to-energy incinerators carry air permits regulating the amounts of air pollution they emit, and all reduce the volume of material entering landfills.

Alternatives to green power deplete nonrenewable energy sources.

Uranium Uranium is the primary fuel source for nuclear power. In a typical nuclear power plant, fissionable atoms are split in a controlled reaction to heat water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. Undesirable impacts of nuclear power generation include radioactive waste storage and protection, decommissioning costs, risks of catastrophic accidents, uranium-mining costs, and dependence on foreign sources of uranium.
Coal In a typical coal-fired power plant, coal is burned to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. In a cogeneration facility, the heat produced by burning coal may be used for other purposes in addition to electricity generation. Undesirable impacts of coal-fired power plants include air pollution and coal-mining costs and associated environmental damage.
Natural Gas Natural gas is a fossil fuel composed primarily of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In a typical gas-fired power plant, gas is burned to heat water to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. When gas is used in a cogeneration facility, the heat produced is used for other purposes in addition to electricity generation. Undesirable impacts of gas-fired power plants include air pollution and gas-drilling costs.
Oil Oil (also called petroleum) is a fossil fuel composed of various liquid hydrocarbons. In a typical oil-fired power plant, oil is burned to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. Oil may also be used in a cogeneration facility, where the heat produced by burning oil is used for other purposes in addition to electricity generation. Undesirable impacts of oil-fired power plants include air pollution, oil-drilling costs, and dependence on foreign sources of oil.
Tires In a typical tire-fired power plant, tires are chipped and burned to create steam, which turns turbines to generate electricity. Tires may also be burned in a cogeneration facility where the heat produced is used for other purposes in addition to electricity generation. Undesirable impacts of tire-fired power plants include air pollution.

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