What Is Renewable Energy
Renewable energy, also known as clean, green or sustainable energy, is energy powered by natural resources. That we as a planet have an endless supply of. For example, the sun will always shine and the wind will always blow and water will always flow. So, by installing renewable energy systems we can make reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
The Different Types Of Renewable Energy
Below we will explore the five different types of renewable energy which are revolutionising the world’s energy systems. From Solar energy to Biomass energy, we will look at how each produces green energy and their unique advantages.
1. Solar Energy
Solar energy is green energy harnessed directly from the sun. Humans have harnessed the sun’s energy for thousands of years to stay warm, dry clothes and to grow produce. Solar Energy works by capturing packets of energy from the sun (known as photons) and converting it into energy. Both in the form of electricity (Solar Photovoltaic) or heat (Solar Thermal). Making Solar Energy incredibly diverse. With one hour of sunlight being equal to one year’s worth of energy required to power the planet, we would be foolish not to take advantage of this renewable energy source. With one hour of sunlight being equal to one year’s worth of the planet’s energy demand, we would be foolish not to take advantage of this renewable energy. When the photons hit the Photovoltaic (PV) panels the concentration of solar radiation excites the solar cells. As a result, creating energy to power our homes and businesses. As of 2020, Solar Energy provides the cheapest electricity in history.
The Pros Of Solar Energy
- As the most abundant source of power on the planet, Solar energy is accessible in all corners of the world. Solar Panels can be installed both domestically and commercially.
- Solar Energy Systems require low maintenance and are easy to install. With no moving parts within a Solar Energy System there is no wear and tear.
- Solar panel systems produce green, clean energy with no pollutants.
- As Solar energy is free to generate, it will reduce your electricity bills as well as your reliability on the National Grid. There is also the potential to make money with Solar energy, by exporting surplus energy back to the grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
- The Solar industry is constantly developing, making the technology more affordable and innovative.
The Cons Of Solar Energy
- If you do not use a lot of electricity, then the installation of solar panels may not give you the savings you are looking for in your energy bill.
- Some roofs are not at the optimal pitch or orientation to get the best exposure to sunlight and generation. To find out if your home or business would be suitable for Solar Energy simply fill out our enquiry form located here.
- The amount of Solar Energy available varies according to the time of the year, geographical location, weather forecast and time of day. Nonetheless, new technology such as Solar batteries make it possible to overcome some of these issues.
- As Solar Energy is dependant on sunlights, on cloudy and rainy days the efficiency of a Solar system will drops. Nonetheless, Solar Panels will still generate between 10-25% of their normal output on clear days.
2. Wind Energy
Wind energy or wind power is one of the greenest and cleanest forms of renewable energy out there. What’s more, wind farms are becoming a more common site within the UK which we love to see. Much like olden day windmills, wind power relies on the force of the wind to rotate a turbine’s blade to drive generators to create energy. Once produced, this clean energy can be distributed to the National Grid. Wind Farms are available both domestically and commercially. However not every property is suitable for a domestic wind turbine. Small, individual wind turbines can produce 100 kilowatts of power, which is enough to power a home.
The Pros Of Wind Energy
- In the UK, wind energy is the leading generator of renewable energy. In 2017, the onshore and offshore wind farms produce 14.8% of all electricity consumed by UK homes and businesses.
- Did you know Wind energy is actually a form of Solar Energy? Winds are generated by: the sun heating the earth’s atmosphere, the rotation of the Earth and surface irregularities. As we already know, Solar Energy is the most abundant source on our planet.
- Although typically, wind turbines are placed on highly elevated areas in order to produce as much energy as possible. They can be located off-shore and on-shore allowing for flexibility. An offshore wind farm means that you do not need more landscape to build wind farms which can help in relation to other environmental factors such as more green spaces to allow wildlife to flourish.
The Cons Of Wind Energy
- On land winds turbines can be noisy and visually impact large landscapes. Both the noise and space consumed by wind farms, may also push away wildlife.
- Wind turbines are also dangerous for wildlife as birds and even bats have been killed by flying into the spinning turbine blades. However, as the technology improves, more safety features are being considered.
- Wind levels can be inconsistent. With the various speeds of winds, it is hard to predict the amount of wind energy that can be harnessed.
- What’s more, wind energy can only be harnessed in certain locations due to wind speed. With most of these desirable areas being rural, further investment in a network to distribute the power to cities is required. This on-top of the upfront cost for land and the wind turbines themselves, makes wind energy an expensive investment.
- Offshore turbines on boats require more resources to be built and some may argue this could defeat its purpose.
3. Hydro Energy
Hydro energy or hydro power is one of the most commercially developed forms of renewable energy sources. That’s not too much of a surprise considering that hydro energy was developed over 2,000 years ago by the Ancient Greeks. Similar to wind power, hydroelectric power relies on a natural force to generate energy. Hydro energy is generated through the rush of flowing water through a dam or barrier. As the fast flowing waves of water hit the turbines, it starts to spin generating natural energy. Most hydroelectric power plants consists of a reservoir of water, a gate that controls how much water flows out of the reservoir and a place for the rushing water to exit.
The Pros Of Hydro Energy
- Hydropower energy is said to be the most cost-effective way of generating electricity.
- Small-scale hydropower set ups are considered environmentally friendly more so than large scale dams because it will not divert natural water flows.
- The use of hydro energy is so advance, that approximately 71% of all of the renewable electricity generated on Earth is generated from hydropower. In 2019, the UK generated 7.77 TWh of hydro energy alone.
- Unlike Solar or Wind Energy, Hydro Energy can generate renewable energy on demand. This is because you can collect and store water for when energy is required in the reservoirs. Although you can store wind and solar energy through battery storage, getting large volumes is more difficult.
The Cons Of Hydro Energy
- The idea surrounding renewable energy is to provide an environmentally friendly energy source. So, the impact on water animals must be considered, as a dam would stop the natural flow of water. It could also effect the water quality.
- There are limited places on our planet where hydropower plants can be located and therefore not all cities may be able to take advantage of the renewable energy produced.
- Hydro energy can pose a flood risk, as dams hold back a larger volume of water, which is vulnerable to natural disasters or sabotage.
- Due to flood risks, hydropower plants often cause human displacement. The World Commission estimates that in 2000 alone, dams had physically displaced 40-80 million people worldwide.
- Due to the large infrastructure required, hydro energy has a large upfront cost. However, a large hydropower facility can provide low-costing renewable electricity for 50 to 100 years once built.
4. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy is renewable energy generated from heat trapped under your feet, 2 meters under to be exact! Geothermal reservoirs come from natural resources, below the earth’s surface. Where thermal energy is contained within the rocks and fluids. Currently, Geothermal energy plants across the world deliver 12.7GW of renewable electricity. Geothermal energy is used for electricity, heating and cooling, in both large scale projects and in a business or residential settings also. To gain access to geothermal energy, wells are dug into the underground reservoirs, where the steam and hot airs can be accessed. This trapped heat, formed from radioactive decay, can be captured in the steam that rises and used to operate a turbine. Geothermal energy has also been used for thousands of years as an energy source for both cooking and heating. There are three types of geothermal power plants: flash, dry steam and binary.
The Pros Of GeoThermal Energy
- Geothermal heat pump systems use 25% to 50% less electricity than conventional systems for heating or cooling, making them highly efficient. In additional, Geothermal energy can achieve savings of up to 80% over that of traditional energy methods.
- Geothermal energy is a reliable energy source. Unlike Wind and Solar Energy, it is a constant source of energy, available all year round. Making it one of the most reliable sources of renewable energy.
- Similar to Solar PV Systems, Geothermal systems require little to no maintenance. Overall, Geothermal heat pumps have a relatively high life span of up to 20 years.
The Cons Of GeoThermal Energy
- The main disadvantage of geothermal energy is that it has to be installed where enough of the energy is accessible.
- Although the amount is significantly lower than fossil fuels, extracting geothermal energy from the ground still produces greenhouses gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. This is because they are stored under the earth’s surface and released during the digging process.
- Similar to other forms of renewable energy, geothermal energy comes at a high initial price. Nevertheless, the return on investment is predicted to be between 2 to 10 years.
- Although geothermal plants are built away from cities, there is still a risk that harnassing the energy will trigger earthquakes. This is because of the alteration’s digging into the ground causes.
- In order to maintain the suitability of geothermal energy, the reservoirs have to be well managed. Fluid needs to be replaced into the reservoir at a faster rate than the fluid is being depleted.
5. Biomass Energy
Biomass energy is renewable energy sourced from organic materials such as plants, wood, live organisms and waste. These forms of biomass feedstock can be burned to generate heat, processed into fuel or converted directly into electricity. Energy stored within biomass materials first come from the sun, as plants absorb the sun’s energy through photosynthesis. Direct combustion is the most common method of harnessing the energy stored in biomass. Through burning biomass, buildings and water can be heated directly. Alternatively, steam can be produced in order rotate a turbine and generate electricity.
The Pros Of BioMass Energy
- The organic waste used to generate biomass energy is widely available. Dead leaves, trees, animal remains and grass are all available in abundant amounts.
- Biomass is the only renewable energy source that can be converted into liquid biofuels such ethanol and biodiesel to power vehicles.
- Biomass removes CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in soil and plants.
- According to the Office of National Statistics, Biomass is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK.
- Landfills are a large contributor to greenhouse gases emissions and can be both hazardous and toxic. Especially when water, air and land contamination occurs. Removing waste from landfills and using it to fuel biomass plants instead is a great alternative way of recycling/reusing your waste.
- Biomass energy helps us reduce the size of landfills, and the health risks that come along with them.
- As biomass isn’t dependant on weather factors, it is one of the most reliable forms of renewable energy. It can be easily turned on or off and used during peak demand.
The Cons Of BioMass Energy
- Although cheaper than fossil fuels, Biomass energy is not as efficient.
- Biomass plants require a lot of land space. Even more if the plant decides to grow the organic materials themselves. This results in a larger land footprint than other types of renewable energy.
- Again, biomass can be expensive. On top of the upfront costs of getting the biomass plant up and running, there is additional costs for gathering, transporting, and storing the organic materials.
- Even though biomass is considered a renewable energy, it is not the cleanest. Burning biomass to create energy itself causes pollutants.
- Lastly, Biomass energy sources if uncontrolled can result in deforestation, destroying the homes of wildlife. The replanting effort would have to equal or supersede the rate in which we are harnessing biomass in order to make it sustainable in the long run.
Supporting Renewable Energy
With diverse renewable energy systems to choose from, there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be planning our green futures. Getting Solar Panels installed at home is one innovative way to reduce your carbon footprint. Here at Deege Solar we plan to combat Global warming 1 solar panel at a time. To Get a Free Solar PV Panel Survey and Quotation Simply get in touch by selecting our Enquire Now button. We are dedicated to sharing our knowledge and helping those understand the value in renewable energy. Make sure you check out our youtube channel for some more great content about renewable energy and stay in touch!