Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a clean source of energy and also known as green energy. It comes from the sources that can be replenished and comes from natural sources like the sun, wind, water, ocean, earth etc. To build a sustainable future it is important that we replace the energy from fossil fuels to more cleaner options like the renewable energy.

In the olden days people were using the nature’s power for heating, transporting, lighting and many more things. People harnessed the energy of sun to heat things, wind energy was used to sail the boats etc.

What the types of Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Sun is most abundant form of energy that is available on the earth. It is said that “more energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year.” The solar energy can be used for various uses like power up the houses, heat water, cooking, to keep the houses warm and many more.

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is the radiation from the Sun capable of producing heat, causing chemical reactions, or generating electricity. If this energy is harnessed suitably, it has the potential to satisfy the future needs of energy.

How is solar energy collected?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) devices, or solar cells, change sunlight directly into electricity. Small cells can be used to power up small electronic devices. When an arrangement of many solar cells in PV panels and many PV panels are arranged in PV arrays, it can produce electricity to power up an entire house.

The most common devices used to collect solar energy and convert it to thermal energy are flat-plate collectors. Another method of thermal energy conversion is found in solar ponds, which are bodies of salt water designed to collect and store solar energy. Solar radiation may also be converted directly into electricity by solar cells, or photovoltaic cells, or harnessed to cook food in specially designed solar ovens, which typically concentrate sunlight from over a wide area to a central point.

Small PV cells can power calculators, watches, and other small electronic devices. Arrangements of many solar cells in PV panels and arrangements of multiple PV panels in PV arrays can produce electricity for an entire house. Some PV power plants have large arrays that cover many acres to produce electricity for thousands of homes.

What are the benefits and limitations of the Solar Energy

Benefits:

  1. Solar energy is a clean source of energy and do not produce any air pollutants
  2. It does not affect the environment
  3. It is available in abundance

Limitations:

  1. The amount of sunlight received on earth is not constant and varies with the weather, time of day, location and seasons.
  2. Large area is required to collect and capture the required amount of sunlight.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing and cheaper source of renewable energy. It is becoming quite popular worldwide as the cost of producing energy from this source is reducing due to the advancement in the technology.

The kinetic energy created by air in motion is used to produce electricity. This is transformed into electrical energy using wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems. Wind first hits a turbine’s blades, causing them to rotate and turn the turbine connected to them. That changes the kinetic energy to rotational energy, by moving a shaft which is connected to a generator, and thereby producing electrical energy through electromagnetism. The amount of power that can be harvested from wind depends on the size of the turbine and the length of its blades.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is the heat from the earth. It is a renewable energy source because heat is continuously produced inside the earth. 

This thermal energy is contained in the rock and fluids beneath Earth’s crust. It can be found from shallow ground to several miles below the surface, and even farther down to the extremely hot molten rock called magma.

How geothermal energy collected?

At a geothermal power plant, wells are drilled 1 or 2 miles deep into the Earth to pump steam or hot water to the surface. Hot water is pumped from deep underground through a well under high pressure. When the water reaches the surface, the pressure is dropped, which causes the water to turn into steam. The steam spins a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity. The steam cools off in a cooling tower and condenses back to water. The cooled water is pumped back into the Earth to begin the process again.

Geothermal Applications

Heat Pumps: Heat pumps use the Earth’s shallow ground temperature for heating and cooling. 

Electricity Production: Electricity production generates electricity from the earth’s heat.

Direct Use: Direct use produces heat directly from hot water within the earth.

Hydroelectric Power

Hydro power relies on water—typically fast-moving water in a large river or rapidly descending water from a high point—and converts the force of that water into electricity by spinning a generator’s turbine blades.

How is electricity generated using hydro power?

In most of the hydroelectric power plants water is stored in a reservoir at a height and allowed to flow downwards through large pipes or tunnels to the lower ground level. The water stored in the reservoir gains a potential energy. The potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as water flows downwards. At the end of the passage downwards, turbines are placed which rotates as the water passes through them which in turn drives the generator and turbine’s mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy.

Tidal Energy

The energy obtained by converting the energy of waves into useful forms of energy like electricity is called tidal energy. Tides are created by the gravitational effect of the moon and the sun on the earth causing cyclical movement of the swell.

How is tidal energy captured?

  1. Tidal barrage is a type of dam built on the ocean to block receding water during the ebb period taking the advantage of difference between high tides and low tides. At low tide, water behind the barrage is released, and the water passes through a turbine that generates electricity.
  2. Tidal stream power plants generates the electricity by taking the advantage of the ocean currents for driving the turbines.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is obtained by the conversion of solid fuel made from plant materials into electricity. The most common biomass materials used for energy are plants, wood, and waste. These are called biomass feedstocks.

The energy from these organisms can be transformed into usable energy through direct and indirect means. Biomass can be burned to create heat (direct), converted into electricity (direct), or processed into biofuel (indirect). When biomass is burned, the chemical energy is released as heat and can generate electricity with a steam turbine. 

The future of Renewable Energy

With the increasing population and advancement of technologies, the demand for energy is also increasing. Dependence on the non-renewable energy sources is not sustainable in the future as these resources are going to exhaust some day. It is time that more innovation and research is done to make the renewable energy sources as our primary source and supply majority of the energy supply. This is the only way to save our planet from the effects of climate change and maintain a sustainable level of energy in the future.

Renewable energy sources make up 26% of the world’s electricity today, but according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) its share is expected to reach 30% by 2024.

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