Renewable energy is booming. The technology lowers the energy costs and holds the key to clean energy in future. The incredible wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar generation are breaking records, and most countries are integrating them into their national electricity grid without compromise on reliability.
In other words, “renewables” are gradually replacing the “dirty” fossil fuel within the power sector, providing the advantages of lower carbon emissions and other kinds of pollution.
Renewable Energy Definition
A renewable energy source means something that’s sustainable – energy that can’t run out, or it’s endless! There are several widespread types of renewable energy resources across the globe.
They include solar power, water (hydro) energy, wind energy, geothermal power, and biomass fuel. Plus, there are other renewable energy types under test each day.
Let’s stash our hoods down and have a look at the comparison between the renewable energy sources that you can use everywhere in the world.
1. Solar Energy
Sunlight is among the earth’s freely available and most abundant renewable energy resources. Even though solar energy looks like a perfect source of energy, the quantity of solar power you can harness varies based on the season of the year, the geographical location, and the time of the day. But should that worry you? Definitely not. You can use solar energy storage systems to overcome the challenge.
To enjoy power from the sun, you should install ground-mounted or rooftop solar panels. These devices are easy to install or you can hire a solar installation company. After installing the panels, you start to accrue solar savings.
How solar power works
Each solar panel comes with a thin layer of silicon cells, a glass casing surrounded by a unique film and wiring, and a metal frame. The PV modules are arranged together in series and positioned in large outdoor spaces or rooftops for a good effect. During the day, solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, absorb solar energy.
You’ll find a small semiconductor wafer constructed with a pair of silicon layers on the solar cells. One of the layers has positive charges, while the other layer has negative charges. The two create an electric field. Immediately light energy from the sun hits the photovoltaic solar cells; the cell is energized, causing the electrons to get loose on the atoms in the semiconductor wafer.
After that, the loose electrons go into motion using the electric field surrounding the water, thus creating an electrical current. Finally, the solar panels convert solar energy to electricity.
Soon after, the charge goes through an inverter for conversion from DC to AC, which is ready for use at home. This works the same way electrical power works, so you don’t have to change anything within your home.
Solar power doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or air pollutants. Solar energy has low, if any environmental impact past the manufacturing process.
Since you understand solar power basics and how it works, you can try and marvel at how solar renewable energy technology can capture the massive sun’s power to run a home.
You harness the wind’s natural strength to generate power. You can use wind energy in both residential and commercial properties.
In the past, people used old-fashioned windmills to generate energy. But a big thanks to the technology today, tall turbines that resemble skyscrapers are used to produce electricity. Wind energy turns the turbine’s blades, which feeds an electric generator, thus generating electricity.
Compared to the fossil fuels that many folks depended on since the Industrial Revolution, the wind isn’t a finite resource. Furthermore, it cannot deplete and doesn’t produce as many harmful, environmentally harmful byproducts related to coal and petroleum processing.
Starting with the 1970’s oil crisis, the wind renewable energy industry has been among the clean energy technologies at the lead of a movement to lower the over-reliance on fossil fuels.
How wind power works
For wind energy to function efficiently and produce electricity, you need wind turbines. This is a rotary device that draws power from a fluid motion. A wind turbine uses wind power to produce electricity. After that, the spinning blades turns the shaft that connects to a rotor. This activity finally generates electricity.
For it to happen securely, the wind turbine blades only rotate at about 16 rotations per minute. A gearbox within the wind turbine accelerates the rotation speed to make it generate more electricity.
The design and size of the turbine varies and depends on the quantity of electricity it can generate. Most turbine blades have a calculated curvature to assist them in accommodating much wind.
How efficient is wind energy?
Massive wind turbines like the ones available on wind farms can produce enough power in a single day for the average family consumption for one year. The good news is that wind turbine technology is getting better all the time.
This is the largest and most common renewable energy in many countries. Hydropower depends on water—generally fast-moving water in a large water body or a speedily descending water flowing from a raised point.
How Hydropower works
Generally, a modern renewable energy hydropower plant consists of a water reservoir, penstocks, dams, generators, and turbines. The dam stores the water and permits the operators to control its quantity to the turbines. Additionally, the reservoir works as a decanter: most debris and dirt in water move to the reservoir’s bottom side and far from the intake area.
After that, water from the reservoir moves to the turbines via the penstock and the dam gates. Further cleaning takes place at the filtering system within the reservoir’s intake to make sure that the water is clean from solids that can end up damaging the blades.
The system has gate controls, the brake, and the governor that work together to close and open the apertures that permit water to move downstream from the reservoir. Regardless of the turbine’s design, it changes the falling water’s kinetic energy to mechanical energy.
Additionally, the turbine links with a shaft to the generator’s motor that finally changes the mechanical energy to electricity.
This is an organic component from animals and plants and includes waste wood, crops, and trees. When you burn biomass, the chemical energy is produced as heat, and it generates electricity using a steam turbine.
How Biomass Works
Bio is renewable energy because its supply doesn’t deplete. As compared to other renewable and non-renewable energy that takes a long to form, biomass develops and re-develops more quickly using the photosynthetic cycle.
1. Burning Biomass
Changing biomass into electricity works the same way you can generate power from coal. During this step, the biomass is burned using a boiler to generate steam. Then, steam moves the turbine blades that rotate and power a generator that finally produces electricity.
2. Biomass Fuel
A different way to produce biopower from biomass is by changing it to a gaseous state. Immediately you place the biomass in an environment with high-temperature in the absence of oxygen; it delivers a gas known as synthesis gas. The gas is later burned in a boiler to produce energy.
You can produce biopower by changing biomass to bio-oil or liquid fuel by heating it under reduced temperatures.
3. Bacterial Decomposition
Thanks to the bacterial decomposition as biopower comes from organic waste matter. Here, animal and human waste are collected under oxygen-free anaerobic digesters. After that, the waste decomposes inside the digesters, releasing methane. This creates biogas. After that, you can filter and burn biogas to create electricity.
Have you ever relaxed in hot springs? If yes, then perhaps you’ve used geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is one of the renewable energy extracted from the earth’s core. Power comes from heat produced during the radioactive decay of materials and the actual formation of the planet. This energy is kept in fluids and rocks within the center of the earth.
Extreme temperatures of more than 4000 degrees Celsius make some rocks within the earth’s core to melt, resulting in magma formation. Furthermore, the heat makes the mantle behave in a plastic manner, and a part of it moves upwards as it’s a bit lighter than the surrounding rock.
Generation of Geothermal Energy
Holes of up to one-kilometer-deep are drilled on the underground reservoirs to store the geothermal resources. More exploitation can be done on these resources from the naturally occurring heat, rock, and water permeability or geothermal systems.
This enhances the geothermal resources in a hydraulic stimulation process. These geothermal resources, enhanced or natural, later drive the turbines connected to the electricity generators.
How Geothermal Power Works
All geothermal power plants are in three different states: binary, flash, and dry steam.
- The earliest design is the dry steam that transfers steam directly from the fractures underground to a drive turbine.
- The flush plants draw high-pressure hot water underground then mix it with cold low-pressure water. Later on, this forms a steam that drives the turbines to produce electricity.
- The binary plants use hot water via a secondary fluid with a reduced boiling point compared to water. After that, the secondary fluid turns into a vapor that drives the turbine.
Geothermal energy has environmentally-friendly advantages as a renewable energy option. It gives out about one-sixth of the overall carbon dioxide through a clean natural-gas power plant. It’s a cheaper option than conventional energy and has massive savings of up to 80% than fossil fuels.
All these renewable energy types can help every country more so when it comes to a location with enough energy sources. Many countries have different alternatives to fossil fuels and should start investing in renewable energy to save on future costs associated with electricity. Renewable sources of energy can help return the natural environmental cycle and prevent the worsening effects of climatic changes in the future.
Supporting the use of renewables both in your business or at home accelerates the transition to a clean future. Even though installing the solar panels can seem like a big deal, prices and efficiency are now more favorable than ever. You don’t have to panic! You can opt for a clean source of energy. If there’s none through your utility, make sure you buy renewable energy certificates to compensate for your use.