Resources are important for the development of the countries, be it industrialization, manufacturing or generating energy resources are needed. Traditionally we have been relying on fossil fuels to generate energy and sustain life, making resource depletion happening too fast.
This has made us seek alternative and non-exhaustive yet reliable sources of energy generation to sustain the upcoming generations, which is renewable energy in terms of solar energy, hydro energy, geothermal energy etc.
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy or clean energy is collected from renewable resources like sunlight, wind, tide, waves etc.
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Basically these are the resources which are never going to exhaust and have a replenishing rate which is able to sustain the generations.
Renewable Energy vs Non-renewable Energy
Non renewable energy is generated from the non renewable resources or primarily fossil fuels like coal and petroleum which are available in limited quantities and once exhausted there is no turning back.
This kind of energy generation is a source of a lot of carbon emissions in the environment. Whereas as explained renewable energy comes from the renewable resources which are constantly replenishing like sunlight, wind and tides and are safer to use for the environment and carbon free.
Advantages of using Renewable Energy
1. Infinite Stock
The most fascinating part about renewable energy is that it won't ever run out of stock, the sources of renewable energy keep on replenishing.
Whereas the fossil fuels stock will finish and the usage of conventional resources will not be present, the renewable energy sources will keep on renewing as the sun, the wind and the tides and waves are going to function like this and can be used to generate energy.
2. Environment Safe
Fossil fuels are known to have caused a major portion of carbon emissions in the world and pollute the environment. The greenhouse gases hence cause health hazards, global warming, climate change etc. Whereas renewable energy is carbon free, safe for the environment and in turn for the humans as well.
3. Economical Energy
As renewable energy resources need to be brought from anyone, these are present everywhere and can be put into action choosing the best locations. They do not need to be refuelled as they are ever present. Hence this creates the sense of independence and with its low maintenance cost, it's convenient for the purses.
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Types of Renewable Energy
There are various sources of renewable energy; each has a distinct process of energy generation. Let’s have a look at those:
Types of Renewable Energy
The sun has been used for various purposes ranging from growing plants to keeping warm. Its energy has never been unacknowledged.
Using the technological advancements solar energy has now been used to generate or rather say convert itself into electricity. Solar panels are set up which are basically a grid of solar or photovoltaic cells capable of transforming solar energy directly into electricity.
Such solar panels can be put on the top of any house or business building to function with renewable energy.
Also, there are solar farms that concentrate the sunlight with the use of mirrors to concentrate it across solar cells and follow the same process.
The benefits and availability of solar energy is just endless one only needs to have adequate means of harvesting it. Another major advantage of this is that such energy generations do not emit greenhouse gases and are relatively safer for the environment.
The only concern about using solar energy is that its installment cost is high and might seem like an unrealistic and impossible decision for most average households.
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The wind that has been used to sail the ships has now been projected as a nonconventional energy source. Wind farms are huge spaces with windmills erected.
These farms capture the energy of wind flow by using turbines that rotate their blades when the wind blows at high speeds. These turbines feed an electric generator producing electricity. Wind farms can be placed anywhere with high wind speeds—such as hilltops and open plains.
The main advantage of wind energy is that it's a clean source of energy without any harmful emissions. Investing in wind energy can open up job opportunities for people.
However, the main disadvantage of such energy generation is windmills are usually set up in remote areas far from the cities where electricity is most needed.
These may be a sustainable solution for energy generation but drawbacks include disturbance in the skyline for the birds and can kill the birds and lined up turbines also create noise pollution.
Hydropower is one of the most efficiently commercially developed to generate electricity by the flow of water which is fast-moving in a large river or rapidly descending from a high point. By building a dam or a barrier, the water flow can be directed which will drive a turbine and generate electricity.
This is known as pumped-storage hydropower. The dam is the most common picture that comes to mind when we think of hydro energy, is a network system of all the required components of energy generation.
Hydroelectric power is a comparatively versatile way of generating electricity. It can encompass large-scale projects like Tehri Dam and small underwater turbines in rivers and streams.
This is a non-polluting way of generating electricity. Although the drawback of this system is that most hydroelectricity facilities end up consuming more electricity than they are able to produce in order to pump water.
It disturbs the waterways by changing water levels, currents, and migration paths of fishes and negatively impacting the ecosystem.
Geothermal heat is the heat that is trapped beneath the earth's crust due to the slow decay of radioactive particles in rocks at the center of the planet. Volcanic eruptions, natural hot springs and geysers are the escape of the same heat in a natural form.
A hole is drilled 1 to 2 miles deep under the earth, through which a pipe is inserted. The steam trapped in the rocks is routed through this pipe to the surface of the earth. This steam is then used to turn the blades of a turbine of an electric generator generating electricity.
Although geothermal energy usage is uncommon, it has the potential to generate considerable electricity. This does cause any depletion but the setup is too costly to build and yet the setup is prone to making the vulnerable areas prone to earthquakes.
Biomass is an organic compound made from plant or animal material, such as sugarcane or corn crops, wood chips, or even dung. There are various ways of using biomass such as by burning biomass or harnessing methane gas which is produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials in ponds or even landfills.
There prevails a debate about the natural combustion method of biomass energy generation.
Burning the agricultural waste or wood and heating water that would ultimately produce steam, which spins turbines, are responsible for producing more carbon emissions than fossil fuels yet there are some biomass compounds that can provide the basis of the low carbon emissions.
The major advantage of biomass energy is that it is cheap and reduces the waste amount to be filled in the landfills. Despite this, the major concern remains of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide being released in the environment even if there are claims that they get used by the plants and balance is restored.
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Renewable Energy Generation Plants
Countries throughout the world are understanding the need to develop renewable energy plants and stick to the usage of renewable resources instead of keeping up with the traditional methods of using fossil fuels only, which will cease to exist one day.
Some of the renewable energy generation plants are:
Three Gorges in China is the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant with an annual output of 85TWh.
Guri hydroelectric power plant in Venezuela supplies approximately 12,900GW/h of energy for Venezuela.
Tehri Hydropower Complex in India has a maximum planned capacity of 2,400MW.
The Jaisalmer wind park in India has a capacity of 1,600MW.
The Alta Wind Energy Center in the US can produce 1,548MW of power.
The Geysers Geothermal Complex in the USA has an active production capacity of 900MW making this the largest geothermal plant in the world.
In terms of the generation of renewable energy, there is a long way to go as they might be available in abundance but their potential is not being fully utilized, expensiveness of the installment systems, problematic transfer of electricity from one place to another, no need for backups plans might have come up to be some turn-offs for the implementation.
Yet there are certain significant milestones in adapting to the nonconventional processes of energy generation due to their capacity to renew and stop environmental harm. It will not be wrong to say that slowly and gradually the future of energy generation will be founded in renewable energy and so are the consumption patterns.