what is renewable energy

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy refers to sources of energy that are practically limitless or those which can be readily recycled or ‘renewed’. These include solar energy, bioenergy, wind energy, geothermal energy and water energy (hydroelectric power).

Why Is Renewable Energy Important?

Climate Change

One of the most serious consequences of the Earth’s continued dependency on non-renewable energy sources is climate change. In recent times, countless areas around the world have bore witness to extreme weather conditions, including scorching summer temperatures, record low winter temperatures and an unprecedented number of natural disasters including droughts, floods, cyclones and more, which are all attributed to harmful carbon emissions. Renewable energy sources on the other hand produce little to no carbon emissions at all.

Energy Independence

Many countries around the world rely on the middle east for their crude oil supplies. This enormous dependency places them at the mercy of large middle eastern oil corporations who can raise their prices at will. Such actions can have detrimental effects on a nation’s economy and have severe repercussions for poorer countries who may struggle to afford the newly increased oil prices. This is a problem that is only going to get worse over time, as these resources continue to diminish. With less dependency on fossil fuels and a heightened focus on utilising green energy sources, nations will be more self-sufficient and less susceptible to extortionate demands imposed by foreign companies.

Non-Renewable Sources Won’t Last Forever

The main reason why nations must migrate to clean energy sources is that traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels only have a limited supply. They won’t last forever and with the exponential growth of the global population, these supplies will quickly evaporate at a likewise exponential rate. According to this article in the Business standard, crude oil is predicted to run out within 53 years, natural gas in 54, while coal resources will have dried up completely within 110 years. These are frightening statistics, considering the overwhelming dependency still placed on fossil fuels.

Health and Safety

Fossil fuel extraction causes dangerous pollutants to be released into the atmosphere, posing a health risk to those in the immediate and surrounding vicinities. Renewable energy sources in contrast produce a fraction of the harmful emissions that fossil fuels do.

Environmental Harm

Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil are becoming increasingly difficult for mining companies to locate and extract. As a result, the mining process is becoming more harmful to the surrounding environments, damaging the landscapes while threatening the existence of native animals. Whilst it’s true that the initial construction of renewable energy devices such as solar power installations, hydroelectric systems and other clean energy units may cause some minor environmental harm, the continued operation of such devices to yield vast supplies of clean, renewable energy has a negligible effect on the environment.

The Advantages of Renewable Energy Sources

Solar Power

  • It’s (Virtually) Inexhaustiblesolar energy will exist for as long as our sun does, which is said to be billions of years, which is a far cry from fossil fuels which are all predicted to be depleted within just over a 100 years.
  • Not Just Electricity – not only can solar installations convert light into electricity, they can also produce heat. Solar thermal energy can be used to heat water and other liquids while also being used to power solar cooling systems.
  • Save Money On Electricity Bills – for homeowners, the biggest advantage of solar energy is the savings. Solar panels are becoming cheaper to buy all the time and with constant advances in solar technology making them more efficient than ever before, consumers can expect significant savings on their electricity bills. Depending on where you’re located, governments offer various subsidies and ongoing incentives for solar power adoptees.
  • Cheap to Maintain – to ensure maximum solar panel efficiency, it’s a good idea to clean your solar panels once or twice a year. Beyond this, owners of modern solar inverters can expect to get between 10 and 15 years of reliable output from their units.

Wind Power

  • Ever-Present Resource – the presence of wind can be found right throughout the earth, making it a readily obtainable resource.
  • Efficient and Economical – wind power is remarkably efficient, making it one of the least expensive forms of clean energy.
  • Minimal Environmental Harm – wind power generators can be placed in faraway regions, ensuring negligible damage to the surrounding landscapes.

Hydroelectricity

  • Efficient – the power output of hydroelectric systems can be quickly adjusted in accordance with demand, ensuring maximum efficiency.
  • Inexpensive – along with wind power, hydroelectricity is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
  • Low Emissions – although the construction and management of hydroelectric systems emits carbons into the atmosphere, it’s an infinitesimally small amount when compared to the refinery of non-renewable energy sources.

Geothermal Energy

  • Whisper clean – geothermal energy utilises heat pumps to tap into the natural heat generated from the Earth, making it is an extremely clean method of generating energy.
  • Cheap to Produce – geothermal energy is inexpensive to produce, making it a highly economical solution for homes and businesses looking to take advantage of it.
  • Harmless to The Environment – installation of geothermal systems for use in residential areas causes no harm to the surface beneath it.

Bioenergy

  • It’s Renewable – bioenergy is produced as the result of burning organic matter, meaning that it is recyclable. It is however important that any organic matter used in the process of bioenergy creation is replaced with new organic material.
  • Multiple Energy Sources – bioenergy doesn’t rely on a single energy source and can be created by burning a diverse range of organic materials. This ensures that it can be produced in a wide range of environments.
  • Self-Sufficiency – unlike some fossil fuels such as crude oil which are only available in certain regions in the world and which must be purchased by nations who do not possess their own natural reserves of it, bioenergy can be produced anywhere that has suitable organic materials. This results in a reduced dependency on external nations to provide their energy for them.

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