Introduction

“Renewable energy” is energy produced from a source that is not permanently depleted. Sunlight, wind, flowing water, geothermal heat, and plants are examples of renewable energy resources. They can be produced today without damaging their ability to be produced in the future.

Over the past decade the use of renewable energy is becoming more important to people, industry, and governments. Why? Renewable energy resources are not depleted, they are becoming less expensive, and they have a softer environmental impact.

Historical Use of Renewable Energy in the USA

Two important sources of renewable energy in the United States have always been wood and water power. Animal power might also be considered an important early source of renewable energy. These accounted for almost all of the energy produced in the United States until coal mining began in the mid-1700s and drilling for oil and gas began in the mid-1800s.

Once the production of fossil fuels became commercialized, wood and water were gradually replaced as primary fuels. It became less expensive and more convenient to supply the energy needs of a home or a factory from fossil fuels than from wood or water. Fossil fuels became the new primary fuels. Today – over 100 years later – they are still in that dominant position.

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