What is a Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is an energy that is produced from natural processes and continuously replenished. Few examples of renewable energy are the sunlight, water, wind, tides, geothermal heat and biomass. The energy that is provided by the renewable energy resources is used in 5 important areas such as air and water cooling/heating, electricity generation, rural sector and transportation.
According to a report in 2016 by REN21, the global energy consumption by the use of renewable energy resources contributed to a 19.2% in 2014 and 23.7% in 2015. Many countries have started to invest in these renewable energy resources as these resources will help in maintaining a sustainable development. The amount of investment in 2015 was about 286 billion dollars and major sectors were biofuel, solar power, wind and hydroelectricity.
The existence of renewable energy resources is spread over to a wide geographical area in comparison to the conventional energy resources which are often concentrated to a limited number of countries like the oil and gas are mostly concentrated in the Middle East countries. The use of renewable energy resources in energy generation is resulting in less pollution and have a significant effect on economic benefits and energy security.
Sources of Renewable Energy
The sources could sustain for a longer period of time and can easily be renewed often. Sustainable sources are biomass, nuclear power, geothermal, wind energy, solar power, tidal power and wave power.
The sources of renewable energy are known to be less polluting and therefore the whole world is looking forward at new carbon emission norms, where carbon will play the major role in developing new factories and industries. They will be rated according to the carbon emission and the products that they are producing will be rated accordingly.
Types of Mainstream Renewable Energy Technologies
- Solar Energy- The radiant light and heat energy from the sun is harnessed with the use of solar collectors. These solar collectors are of various types such as the photovoltaics, concentrator photovoltaics, solar heating, (CSP) concentrated solar power, artificial photosynthesis and solar architecture. This collected solar energy is then used to provide light, heat and different other forms of electricity.
- Wind Energy – The energy we get from winds is known as wind energy. For this, windmills have been used for hundreds of years to pump out water from the ground. We use large tall wind turbines that allow winds to generate electricity. The natural airflow on the surface of the earth is used to run the wind turbines. The modern-day wind turbines range from about 600 Kilowatt to 5 Megawatt, for commercial purposes these are rated with an output power of 1.5 to 3 Megawatt. The most preferred locations for these wind turbines to be installed are the areas which and strong and have constant airflows on offshore and sites which are at high altitudes. The power generated from wind energy in 2015 met 4% of global energy consumption.
- Hydroelectricity – According to statistics, hydroelectricity generated around 16.6% of the global energy resources and constituted about 70% of all the renewable electricity. This energy is another alternative source of energy that is generated by construction of dams and reservoirs on the flowing water, the kinetic energy from the flowing water is used to run the turbines which generate electricity. Tidal power which converts the energy of tides and Wave power which captures the energy from the surface of the ocean waves for power generation. These two forms of hydropower also have huge potential in electric power generation
- Geothermal Energy – It is the energy that is generated from the thermal energy which is stored in the earth. The heat energy is captured on sources such as hot springs and volcanoes and this heat is directly used by industries for heating the water and other purposes.
- Bio Energy – This type of energy is derived from the biomass which is a type of biological material derived from living organisms and plant-derived materials which are called lignocellulosic biomass. Biomass can be directly used via combustion to produce heat and indirectly it can be used to convert to biofuels. Biomass can be converted to other usable forms of energy such as the transportation fuels like ethanol, biodiesel and methane gas.
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