Types of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is defined energy collected from alternative resources which are naturally replenished on a certain timescale. This includes sunlight, the wind, rain, current, and geothermal heat. This kind of energy often supplies energy in four notable sectors: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural energy services.
In theory, dominant sources of energy like fossil fuels are more likely to run out before renewable energy. However, the bigger picture does not exactly show this.
Thankfully, fossil fuels are constantly being replenished. New oil is produced from old plants and dead creatures every single day. But the bad news is that today’s world consumes more fossil fuels, unlike our predecessors. It took at least 400 million years to form a planet’s fossil fuels, and at the rate that the world is consuming these today, it is inevitable that these resources will run out.
On the other hand, just as the fossil fuel supply isn’t exactly finite, neither is renewable energy infinite. Either way, virtually all forms or energy is derived from the sun and that massive energy source might run out one day.
Possibly the simplest way to collect further energy is through absorbing the rays coming from the sun. For as long as the sun shines every day, we’ll be able to tap the light and the heat that goes in our direction. An easy method to gather the sun’s energy is via photovoltaic conversion, which comprises of the transformation of solar energy to electric energy using solar cells. These cells are manufactured using silicon alongside other chemical elements, with each one able to generate an ample amount of energy using solar radiation. These devices capture both direct and diffuse radiation, meaning energy can be generated despite cloudy days.
Wind power comes second to solar power. Depending on your location, wind turbines start to emerge on a larger scale today—a turbine as any machine that takes away kinetic energy from a moving liquid or gases and converts it into another form. There is a colossal number of these in the United States and Europe, while Asian countries start to adopt the alternative source of energy. Windmills, based on this idea, have been utilized for hundreds of years now. Modern wind turbines make use of a rotating blade that spins around with the wind’s aid and turns an electricity generator mounted behind the blade. Wind power can also be considered as solar energy due to the fact that winds whistling round Earth are produced when the sun heats different areas of our planet by different increments, causing air movements over the surface.
Conventional nuclear energy is not limitless: it is made by dividing large, unstable atoms of a naturally occurring chemical element called Uranium. Since this element has to be fed into most nuclear plants and dug out before one can do so, traditional forms of nuclear fusion can’t be considered as renewable energy. On the other hand, scientists hope to develop an alternative form of nuclear-propelled energy called nuclear fusion, which is forecasted to be cleaner, safer, and renewable all at the same time.
From the word hydro, which means water, it is obvious that this type of renewal energy makes use of water—not from water itself but from its movements that can be found in rivers or streams. Rivers start their lives on higher ground and gradually move downhill towards the sea. By damming these waters, man-made lakes that drain slowly past water turbines will eventually generate enough energy that can be stored. Water wheels are an early example of these contraptions. One can describe these as hydromechanical since the water powering the machines used was transmitted by a collection of wheels and gears. Like the aforementioned wind power, hydroelectric power is another form of solar energy, because the sun’s energy that drives the water cycle, endlessly exchanges water between rivers and oceans on Earth’s surface and the atmosphere above.
This is the name coined for crops grown for the sole purpose of producing energy. Biofuels are an example of Biomass energy. Other examples feature burning animal waste to generate electricity. Biofuels have spurted controversial notes due to the fact that the take-up space that could be used to grow food, but are generally cleaner and more efficient way of yielding power as opposed to fossil fuels. Plants absorb carbon dioxide while they grow, and give it out when burned. Biomass can supply energy without adding to the issue of global warming, making it an ideal source of energy if further refined in the future.
In the automotive world, fuel cells are beginning to take notice. For those who want renewable power in their automobiles, they can swap their gasoline-powered engines with an electric motor driven by fuel cells. These devices are similar to how batteries operate, but never run flat, making constant electricity using a tank of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is relatively cheap and easy to make from water. Furthermore, fuel cells are quiet, powerful, and produce no pollution at all.