With innovation, renewable power is booming and beginning to keep the promise of a clean energy future. As solar and wind power generation increase, they are integrated into the national electric grid without compromising sustainability.
This means renewables are increasingly displacing non-renewable fossil fuels for generating power, offering the benefit of lower carbon emissions and other forms of pollution. Biomass and giant hydroelectric dams create difficult trade-offs when considering the impact on life-sustaining on the earth, climate change, and other related problems.
Renewable Energy In Brief
Renewable energy, often called clean energy, comes from natural sources or constantly replenishing processes. Example: Sunlight and wind are renewable sources, even if their availability depends mainly on time and weather conditions.
It is often believed that renewable energy is a new technology when harnessing nature’s power has been used for centuries for heating, transportation, lighting, and more. Over the past 500 years, humans have increasingly turned to dirtier, cheaper energy sources, such as coal and fracking.
Renewable energy sources are becoming more critical now that we have innovative and cheap methods to capture and retain wind and solar energy. Renewables are also expanding at large and small scales, from giant offshore wind farms to rooftop solar panels on homes, enabling power back to the grid.
Non-renewable energy is also known as dirty energy. It mainly includes fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal, and Non-renewable energy sources are available in limited amounts.
Sources of non-renewable energy are also found in particular parts of the world, making them more plentiful in some countries than others. In contrast, every country has access to sunshine and wind. Prioritizing renewable energy can also raise national security by lowering a country’s dependence on fossil fuel exports–rich nations.
Many non-renewable energy sources can endanger our mother planet or its persisting life. For example, oil drilling might require strip-mining boreal forests in Canada; the technology associated with hydraulic fracturing may result in earthquakes and water pollution. Similarly, coal power plants may cause air pollution. Moreover, all of these will eventually contribute to global warming.
Humans have been using solar energy for many decades—for cultivation, dry foods, and many other daily needs.
Solar or photovoltaic (PV) cells are of silicon or other materials that convert sunlight directly into electricity. Distributed solar systems can produce electricity locally for homes and similar small-scale businesses through rooftop panels or community projects that power entire neighbourhoods. In solar farms, mirrors focus sunlight on acres of solar cells to provide enough energy for thousands of homes. Floating solar farms or “photovoltaics”. It can effectively use wastewater facilities and bodies of water that aren’t ecologically sensitive.
As long as they are appropriately sited, solar energy systems produce no air pollutants or greenhouse gases, and most solar panels have little environmental impact beyond the manufacturing process.
Recently, as tall as skyscrapers—with turbines nearly as wide in diameter—stand at attention worldwide. A force from the wind turns the turbine’s blades, which supports an electric generator and generates electricity.
Other Possible Sources of Energy
Hydropower is the largest and most common renewable energy source for electricity. Hydropower means the power produced by water. The fast flowing water in a large river or rapidly falling water from a high level. This force of water then undergo convertion into electricity by spinning a generator’s turbine blades.
Large hydroelectric plants or mega dams are often considered non-renewable energy globally. Mega-dams divert and reduce natural flows and control access for life that rely on those rivers. Similarly, small hydroelectric plants should undergo careful management and do not cause as much environmental damage as they divert only a tiny fraction of the flow.
Biomass is an organic material from plants and animals, including crops, waste wood, and trees. When stubble undergo burning, the energy liberation is mainly through heat, which produces electricity.
When producing electricity, biomass is often known as a cleaner, greener alternative to coal and other fossil fuels. However, recent studies have shown that many forms of biomass—especially from forests—have higher emissions of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. There are also negative consequences for biodiversity. Still, some forms of biomass energy emit fewer greenhouse gases. For example, sawdust and chips from sawmills can be used as low-carbon energy sources.
The core of the earth is about as hot as the sun, and it is due to the slow degradation of radioactive particles in rocks at the centre. Using deep well drilling, boiling underground water can brought to the surface, which is pumped through a turbine to generate electricity. When geothermal plants pump steam and water into reservoirs, their emissions are usually low. There are ways to grow geothermal plants without underground reservoirs. However, there are concerns about an increased risk of an earthquake in those areas where there is geological hot spots.
It is still early for tidal and wave energy, but the ocean will always dominated by the moon’s gravity, which makes harnessing it attractive. Some tidal energy approaches, such as tidal barrages, work like dams in an ocean bay or lagoon and may harm wildlife. Tidal power depends on structures on a dam-like system or devices anchored on the ocean floor.
Renewable Energy in Daily Life
Using the sun’s rays to power the whole house at a smaller scale through PV cell panels or passive solar home design is possible. Passive solar homes designed to welcome the sun through south-facing windows. It is to retain the warmth through tiles, concrete, bricks and other materials that store heat.
A solar-powered home may generate more power than it needs so that the homeowner can sell the excess electricity to the grid. Batteries are also an economically viable way to store extra solar energy at night. Scientists are hard at work on new approaches that blend properties and functions, such as solar windows.
Geothermal heat pumps
Some coils in the back of your fridge act as a mini heat pump, which removes heat from the interior, keeping foods fresh and cool. This technology is a new take on a recognizable process. In a home, geothermal or geo-exchange pumps use the earth’s temperature to cool homes in summer, warm houses in winter and even heat water.
Geothermal systems can be initially expensive but typically pay off within 5 to 10 years. They are quieter, have fewer maintenance issues, and last longer than traditional air conditioners.
Small wind systems
Boats, ranchers, and cell phone companies regularly use small wind turbines. Recently it is now easy to get help with the site, installation, and maintenance of wind turbine homeowners too. A wind turbine may lower your dependence on the electrical grid depending on the electricity demand.
Selling the energy you collect.
Wind- and solar-powered homes can either stand-alone or connect to the larger electrical grid, as supplied by their power provider. Electric utilities in most states allow homeowners only to pay the difference between the grid-supplied electricity consumed and what they have produced. This process is called net metering. If you can generate more electric power than your requirements, your provider may pay you the retail price.
Renewable energy and you
Using renewable energy sources in your home or advocating for them can speed up the transition toward a clean energy future. Even if you can’t install solar panels, clean electricity may be an alternative. If renewable energy is unavailable through your utility, nowadays, purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset your use is possible.