Solutions journalism is news about how communities and organizations are responding to social and environmental problems. This collection contains solutions stories that demonstrate recent advances in renewable energy including how solar panels -- both rooftop and solar farms -- are becoming reliable, affordable, and clean alternatives to fossil fuels; how institutions are turning food waste into biogas; how wave energy is being captured and converted to electricity; how technological advances are making geothermal energy nearly as efficient as solar and wind; and how onshore wind turbines are powering entire communities, including the Danish island of Samso.
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- Wind: Onshore wind turbines are rapidly becoming cost competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired power plants and are among the most promising technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Among their attributes are that they can be built to power a single home or an entire island; they have small footprints, occupying a small fraction of the land they sit on; and they can be built quickly.
- Solar: Solar farms provide an unlimited and clean source of energy that in many countries is now cheaper than energy from coal. Photovoltaic panels can be installed in a variety of climates and are projected to have a net operational savings of 5 trillion dollars by 2050 as countries and companies transition away from fossil fuels for energy. On a smaller scale, rooftop solar is one of the most effective climate change strategies, both standalone and connected to a grid. It can put electricity production in the hands of households, and in rural areas in lower-income countries, solar can be a way for countries to leapfrog over the need for large-scale, centralized power grids.
- Methane Digesters: Methane is 34 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, making it a significant threat to the atmosphere. If not dealt with carefully, organic waste emits methane gas as it decomposes. In order to regulate this production of methane, sealed tanks called methane or anaerobic digesters have been created to trap the methane released which can then be used as energy in the form of biogas. The solids left over from this process, which are extremely nutrient rich, are an excellent fertilizer. Using biogas as an energy source reduces the demand for wood and coal as sources of fuel, limiting their harmful impact on the planet and human health.
- Wave and Tidal: Power generated from wave and tidal energy systems have the potential capacity to provide 25% of US electrical needs, although currently, it is the most expensive of all renewables. Due to the challenges of maintaining a sophisticated instrument underwater and the complexities of marine life surrounding that instrument, the technological developments have lagged behind the progress of other renewables such as wind and solar. Rising up to meet these challenges, many governments and communities around the world are designing systems that can capture the power of the waves while being as sustainable as possible.
- Geothermal: Geothermal power is generated through the piping of underground water and steam reservoirs to the surface in order to power turbines that produce electricity. This type of energy is attractive because it is a free heat source, and it is bountiful, and reliable. It has the potential to provide many countries with all of their electricity needs.