Wild Ways of Renewable Power

Do you have any idea where electricity comes from? It doesn’t just come from sockets in the wall, that’s for sure. The truth is, electricity often endures a lengthy journey before it ever gets to you, to light up your life in so many ways. That journey may start in many different ways as well.

Below we share examples of the most exotic, progressive (and downright old-fashioned) ways electricity can be generated, in order to better acquaint you with the renewable energy scene. To do this, we’ve picked twelve examples of ways to generate electricity… and one fantastically popular way to use it!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with units of measuring electricity, 0.652 kilowatt hours may seem like a lot… or it may not seem like much at all. It’s all very relative. But, to put that number in better perspective, consider this: the average monthly consumption, for a U.S. household, is 903 kilowatt hours, or more than 1,300 times the amount of electricity needed to watch a football game on a 60-inch plasma TV for 4 hours.

While our list is quite varied, the mechanics behind a lot of these methods are similar. For example, nearly half of the methods listed here involve generators that rely on the rotation of magnets inside coils to produce electricity. Another three of these methods rely on piezoelectric material and effects, and two methods directly involve heat. In many ways, the mechanics that lead to the raw transformation of energy into electricity haven’t evolved much at all in the past several centuries. Sure, solar cells and piezoelectric material are relatively newer in our consciousness, but when it comes to hand cranks and cow treadmills, the story’s the same.

We take seriously the exploration of renewable power generation methods, and the potential they hold. But, as you may gather, several examples on this list are a far cry from being practical for generating electricity on a scale relevant to our modern needs. It’s safe to say that if it takes 38,000 potatoes or 9 million hamsters to keep a TV running for a couple hours, the use of those resources far outweighs the impact of avoiding fossil fuels and other unrenewable solutions.

Of our more serious examples, wind and solar are most promising—and growth in those industries is proof of that. There are approximately 209,000 Americans working in solar right now, according to The National Solar Jobs Census. That number has doubled since 2010, and is expected to double again by 2020. As for wind power, the U.S. has the third highest “installed wind power capacity” in the world, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Both China and the European Union lead us in wind capacity, but we’re well on our way.