Renewable Energy

What is Renewable Energy

Renewable energy, as the name suggests is an energy which can be renewed or replenished. It is often referred to as 'clean energy' because it is less harmful to the environment as compared to non-renewable energy. Renewable energy is obtained from natural resources and processes that are constantly replenished. Whenever a question raises that what is renewable energy, we can simply say that it is the energy obtained from the resources which constantly renew themselves, hence it is available in sufficient amounts for our use such that it won't finish no matter how much we use it. Sunlight and wind energy can be taken as an example. These resources keep flourishing even if their availability is dependent on time and weather respectively.

Renewable Energy Definition

It is the type of energy obtained from the resources which do not deplete or replenish themselves within a human's lifetime. It is opposite to the energy obtained from depleting fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy Resources

These are those resources which produce renewable energy. They are mostly present in nature. To the question 'what are renewable energy sources', we can say that a renewable source is a natural resource that either through natural reproduction or other recurring processes replenishes the depleted or consumed amount of resource within a finite time interval on the human time scale. Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and water(hydro) are major renewable resources.

Types of Renewable Energy

Here are some major renewable energy examples.

1) Solar Energy

Solar energy is the energy obtained from the sun. The radiant light and heat energy is harnessed by solar collectors. The sun's energy can be captured to generate electricity or heat through a system of panels or mirrors.

Solar, or photovoltaic, cells convert sunlight directly into electricity while solar thermal collectors use heat-absorbing panels and a series of attached circulation tubes to heat water or buildings.

2) Wind Energy

Wind power or wind energy makes the use of wind to provide the mechanical power to electric generators through wind turbines so that they can do operations like milling or pumping. The wind hits two or more propeller-like blades around a rotor. This rotor is connected to the main shaft connected to the generator so that when the rotor moves it moves shaft in turn, hence electricity is produced as generator operates. These turbines are installed mostly in high altitude areas.

3) Geothermal Energy

Earth has its own thermal energy stored in it. The energy that is generated from the thermal energy stored in the earth is called geothermal energy. Hot springs and volcanoes are used to capture the heat energy and this heat is directly used by industries for heating the water and other purposes.

4) Hydropower

Hydropower or hydroelectricity is the energy generated by the use of water. Dams and reservoirs are constructed on flowing water which uses the kinetic energy of the water to run turbines and in turn, generate electricity. Hydropower is also generated by making use of tides known as tidal energy. Also, energy from the surface of ocean waves is used to produce electricity known as wave energy.

5) Bioenergy

Bioenergy is derived from biomass which is organic waste of animals and plants. Biomass contains stored chemical energy. It is burnt to produce bioenergy. It may be converted to biofuel and then used or it can directly be used to produce heat through combustion. The heat generated from combustion is used to run generators to produce electricity.

Importance of Renewable Energy

The importance of renewable energy lies in the need for renewable energy over the conventional form of energy. Some important points are given below.

1) Renewable energy is a source of clean, inexhaustible energy.

2) It is pollution-free as it doesn't produce any greenhouse gas and polluting emissions which are otherwise produced in case non-renewable sources.

3) The costs for renewable energy is also falling at a sustainable rate opposite to the rate trend of fossil fuels.

4) It reduces energy dependence on fossil fuels.

5) It can be easily generated because renewable sources are mostly present all around, there is no non-availability issue.

6) Both economically and environmentally, renewable technologies are becoming competitive to conventional sources of energies.

Uses of Renewable Energy

1) The major use of all renewable energies is to generate electricity. In 2018, 26.2 percent of global electricity requirements was fulfilled by renewable energy which is expected to rise up to 45 percent by 2040.

2) Solar energy can be directly used for heating and lighting homes, for hot water heating, solar cooling etc.

3) Biomass is also used to heat buildings and provide heat in industries. It is also used as a fuel when converted to liquid biofuel.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1) What are the Benefits of Using Renewable Energy for Small Businesses?

a) Making our business go green can help us avoid big electricity bills. Using renewable energies, we can do a handsome amount of production at a lower cost.

b) As a reward for the green can get tax incentives from the local government. About 30% of renewable energy system installation cost can be funded with the help of these incentives.

c) This will make the organisation a healthier place to work for employees. Reducing carbon footprint will have a positive impact on both the environment and the workplace.

2) What are the Disadvantages of Renewable Energy?

  • Higher upfront cost is the biggest disadvantage renewable energy holds. It includes capital cost, upfront building or land cost, installation cost etc.

  • Intermittency is another factor. Renewable resources aren't present 24×7 and whole year round which is not the case in fossil fuels.

  • Because they are not always available they need to be stored which again is a bit difficult and expensive as well.

  • Renewable energy also has geographical limitations. You need to have a large farmhouse or open land to install a wind turbine or solar energy system for their significant use. All geographies aren't suitable for renewable technologies.