According to some online sources, by the year 2020, more than a quarter of the electricity produced globally will be coming from renewable energy sources. Although not totally devoid of problems or complications, renewable energy is a better alternative than most sources because it is cleaner and purer. Compared to fossil fuels, renewable energy produces lesser greenhouse gases and pollution.
Renewable Energy and Its Sources
By definition, renewable energy is that which comes from natural resources and can be easily replenished. It does not run out. Solar and wind power are the two major sources of renewable energy. However, there are other sources that are just as good. Here are four renewable energy resources that we should all seriously consider tapping.
River dams and water that comes from reservoirs are good sources of hydroelectricity. Any body of water that follows a downstream flow and captured by turbines can be a powerful source of energy. It is a renewable source because its power is continuously recharged through the evaporation and precipitation cycle. One of the biggest and most powerful hydropower plants is the Three Gorges, which is found in China. Despite their renewable characteristics, however, hydropower plants are still subject to disapproval by some sectors because of their harmful effects on the environment. One of the negative effects of hydroelectricity is the emission of the greenhouse gas known as methane.
Aside from hydroelectric power plants that use river dams and water reservoirs, there is also what is called the pumped storage plant, which produces power through a power grid that feeds into electric generators. This type of hydroelectric power plant is capable of storing power.
2. Geothermal Energy/Power
Geothermal energy comes from the Earth’s interiors, the part that produces hot water and steam. This is used to generate electricity and provide power to generators. This renewable energy can be sourced by drilling through deep underground reservoirs. Although it is not as popular as wind and solar energy, it is used by several countries including the United States of America, the Philippines, Mexico, Italy, and Indonesia. Geothermal energy is also used as a means of lowering heating and cooling expenses in residences and buildings.
3. Ocean Energy
Ocean energy is a term used to pertain to all the renewable energy that comes from the sea. As over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, they make for a reliable source of healthy energy. Although ocean energy can power a lot of homes and commercial facilities, there are not that many power plants yet that are using it. There may be some ocean energy power plants, but they are not enough to create an impact globally – at the moment. However, since it is a reliable and powerful source, there is a great possibility that more power plants will soon be put up in different parts of the world.
Ocean energy can be derived from three sources: the waves, water temperature differences, and ocean tidal power.
Wave energy is kinetic energy that can be obtained from surface waves. They can power a turbine. Ocean energy can also be obtained using the temperature difference found in deep and shallow waters. Although this has been practiced since the 19th century, there are not enough ocean thermal energy conversion power plants. The third and last one is ocean tidal power or ocean tidal energy. This renewable energy source depends on the water movements that are a result of the rise and fall of sea levels. Energy comes from generators or underwater turbines.
4. Biomass Energy
Biomass, which is the fuel that comes from organic materials, is a renewable energy source. It is also described as animal waste and plant material and has been used for decades, ever since man started to learn how to use wood and fire. Basically, biomass derives its energy from the sun. The different sources of biomass energy are quite easy to find, including grasses, food crops, and industrial wastes. However, the most common – and easiest to find – source is still wood.
Like hydroelectricity, though, biomass can also put the environment at risk. If it is not properly used, it can harm and pollute the air, destroy our ecosystems, use up a lot of water, and contribute to global warming. The amount of carbon it emits should be taken into consideration before it is used. One of the biggest advantages of using biomass as a source of energy is its ability to re-grow quickly, especially when compared to fossil fuels.