The natural solution: Ten facts about renewable energy

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The Independent Online

As the impact of fossil fuels on our environment becomes ever more stark, renewable energy - with its non-polluting qualities and infinite capacity - is just what we need to save our fragile planet. It's thanks to the work of engineers and scientists that we are able to harness the renewable energy available to us and make it useful. Prepare yourself for our top 10 must-know renewable energy facts...

1. There are five main forms of renewable energy: solar, wind, water, biofuel and geothermal (heat from the earth).

2. If it could be properly harnessed, enough sunlight falls on the earth in just one hour to meet world energy demands for a whole year!

3. Ever the innovator, Albert Einstein (left) won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1921 for his ground-breaking experiments with solar power and photovoltaics.

4. The geothermal energy from the core of the Earth is closer to the surface in some areas than in others. Where hot underground steam or water can be tapped and brought to the surface it can be used to generate electricity.

5. A world record was set in 1990 when a solar-powered aircraft flew across the USA in 21 stages, using no fuel at all.

6. One wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to 300 homes.

7. The largest wind turbine in the world, located in Hawaii, stands 20 storeys tall and has blades the length of a football pitch.

8. An average wind speed of just 14mph is needed to convert wind energy into electricity; that shouldn't be too hard to come by in breezy Britain!

9. Water is the most commonly used renewable energy resource, providing enough power to meet the needs of 28.3 million people.

10. Those clever old Romans not only gave us the modern drainage system and many of our roads, they were also among the first to use geothermal energy to heat houses.