Top 5 Types of Alternative and Renewable Energy
Use Renewable Energy-Save The Earth
Renewable Energy, Alternative Energy or Pure Energy and even Unlimited Energy are different expressions for only one mean and meaning which is “saving the earth “. In order to understand the danger facing the Earth and how to overcome this danger, we need to take an overall view about renewable energy, its types and benefits of using it.
According to Wikipedia, Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.
Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.
Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries.
Alternative and Renewable Energy Start
In 1830, scientists discovered photo-voltaic compounds, which release energy when exposed to light. This discovery eventually led to the development of solar cells and solar power.
In 1839, William Robert Grove invented the first hydrogen fuel cell, which harnessed electricity from the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.
In the late 1880, hydroelectric power first became commercially available in the United States, and solar power was discovered in Europe. Governments established the first energy departments shortly before the turn of the century.
in 1947, The first nuclear reactor project aimed at energy production was initiated in Brookhaven, New York. At the same time, political tensions between the United States and Middle Eastern countries threatened the U.S. supply of oil.
In 1970, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established. Damage to natural areas as a result of energy harvesting was one of the first issues addressed by the agency. In 1976, Congress authorized a committee to examine the potential for the development of electric vehicles, with the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
Top 5 Types of Alternative and Renewable Energy
Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun, however alternative energy resources can be divided into more specific categories includes:
[highlight color=”green”]1. Solar Power[/highlight]
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.
From an environmental perspective, solar power is the best thing going. A 1.5 kilowatt PV system will keep more than 110,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere over the next 25 years. The same solar system will also prevent the need to burn 60,000 pounds of coal. With solar, there’s no acid rain, no urban smog, no pollution of any kind.
From Financial perspective, upon using solar power, homeowners could save at least $25,000 over the long term by switching to solar. So what is the current low-end cost of residential solar power? As of 2016, it’s as low as $3.00 per watt, installed. The average sized solar panel system is 5,000 watts, so this brings the total cost to $15,000. That 15k figure is just an average amount. Systems can cost more or less mostly depending upon a homeowner’s energy usage.
Solar panel prices are measured in cents or dollars per watt. As of early 2016, the current retail prices for solar panels typically range from $0.70/watt to more than $2.00/watt. The difference in pricing is largely due to two factors – the type of solar module and the brand name. It is important to stress that the prices just mentioned are for the panels only. They do not include other costs involved with going solar.
[highlight color=”green”]2. Wind Power[/highlight]
Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines to mechanically power generators for electricity. Wind power, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, and uses little land.
Societies have taken advantage of wind power for thousands of years. The first known use was in 5000 BC when people used sails to navigate the Nile River. Persians had already been using windmills for 400 years by 900 AD in order to pump water and grind grain. Windmills may have even been developed in China before 1 AD, but the earliest written documentation comes from 1219. Cretans were using literally hundreds of sail-rotor windmills to pump water for crops and livestock.
Wind turbines costs under 100 kilowatts roughly $3,000 to $8,000 per kilowatt of capacity. A 10 kilowatt machine (the size needed to power a large home) might have an installed cost of $50,000-$80,000 (or more).
[highlight color=”green”]3. Biomass Energy[/highlight]
The term “biomass” refers to organic matter that has stored energy through the process of photosynthesis. It exists in one form as plants and may be transferred through the food chain to animals’ bodies and their wastes, all of which can be converted for everyday human use through processes such as combustion, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in the plant material.
Many of the biomass fuels used today come in the form of wood products, dried vegetation, crop residues, and aquatic plants. Biomass has become one of the most commonly used renewable sources of energy in the last two decades, second only to hydropower in the generation of electricity.
It is such a widely utilized source of energy, probably due to its low cost and indigenous nature, that it accounts for almost 15% of the world’s total energy supply and as much as 35% in developing countries, mostly for cooking and heating.
Advantages of Biomass Energy includes:
1) Biomass used as a fuel reduces need for fossil fuels for the production of heat, steam, and electricity for residential, industrial and agricultural use.
2)Biomass is always available and can be produced as a renewable resource.
3)Biomass fuel from agriculture wastes maybe a secondary product that adds value to agricultural crop.
4)Growing Biomass crops produce oxygen and use up carbon dioxide.
5)The use of waste materials reduce landfill disposal and makes more space for everything else.
6)Carbon Dioxide which is released when Biomass fuel is burned, is taken in by plants.
7)Less money spent on foreign oil.
Disadvantages of Biomass Energy includes:
1)Agricultural wastes will not be available if the basic crop is no longer grown.
2)Additional work is needed in areas such as harvesting methods.
3)Land used for energy crops maybe in demand for other purposes, such as faming, conservation, housing, resort or agricultural use.
[highlight color=”green”]4. Geothermal Energy[/highlight]
Energy from the Earth What could be more natural or plentiful? The source of geothermal power is the heat contained inside the Earth; heat so intense that it creates molten magma. There are a few different types of geothermal energy that can be tapped. “Some geothermal systems are formed when hot magma near the surface (1,500 to 10,000 meters deep) directly heats groundwater.” The heat generated from these hot spots flows outward toward the surface, manifesting as volcanoes, geysers, and hot springs.
Naturally-occurring hot water and steam can be tapped by energy conversion technology to generate electricity or to produce hot water for direct use. “Other geothermal systems are formed even when no magma is nearby as magma heats rocks which in turn heat deeply-circulating groundwater.” In order to maximize the energy gleaned from these so-called “hot dry rocks,” geothermal facilities will often fracture the hot rocks and pump water into and from them in order to use the heated water to generate electricity.
How much does geothermal energy cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh)? At The Geysers, power is sold at $0.03 to $0.035 per kWh. A power plant built today would probably require about $0.05 per kWh. Some plants can charge more during peak demand periods.
Advantages of Geothermal Energy:
- Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels : Dependence on fossil fuels decreases with the increase in the use of geothermal energy. With the sky-rocketing prices of oil, many countries are pushing companies to adopt these clean sources of energy. Burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases which are responsible for global warming.
- No Pollution : This is one of the main advantage of using geothermal energy since it does not create any pollution and help in creating clean environment. Being the renewable source of energy, geothermal energy has helped in reducing global warming and pollution. Moreover, Geothermal systems does not create any pollution as it releases some gases from deep within the earth which are not very harmful to the environment.
- Direct Use : Since ancient times, people having been using this source of energy for taking bath, heating homes, preparing food and today this is also used for direct heating of homes and offices. This makes geothermal energy cheaper and affordable. Although the initial investment is quite steep but in the long run with huge cost saving it proves quite useful.
- Job Creation and Economic Benefits : Government of various countries are investing hugely in creation of geothermal energy which on other hand has created more jobs for the local people.
[highlight color=”green”]5. Hydropower[/highlight]
Hydroelectric power generates about 10% of the nation’s energy. Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers. Flowing water creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. This is called hydroelectric power or hydropower.
The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. But hydroelectric power doesn’t necessarily require a large dam. Some hydroelectric power plants just use a small canal to channel the river water through a turbine.
Another type of hydroelectric power plant – called a pumped storage plant – can even store power. The power is sent from a power grid into the electric generators. The generators then spin the turbines backward, which causes the turbines to pump water from a river or lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, where the power is stored. To use the power, the water is released from the upper reservoir back down into the river or lower reservoir. This spins the turbines forward, activating the generators to produce electricity.
The best fossil fuel plants are only about 50% efficient. In the U.S., Hydropower is produced for an average of0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh). This is about 50% the cost of nuclear, 40% the cost of fossil fuel, and 25% the cost of using natural gas.
Advantages of Hydropower:
1. Once a dam is constructed, electricity can be produced at a constant rate.
2. If electricity is not needed, the sluice gates can be shut, stopping electricity generation. The water can be saved for use another time when electricity demand is high.
3. Dams are designed to last many decades and so can contribute to the generation of electricity for many years / decades.
4. The lake that forms behind the dam can be used for water sports and leisure / pleasure activities. Often large dams become tourist attractions in their own right.
5. The lake’s water can be used for irrigation purposes.
6. The build up of water in the lake means that energy can be stored until needed, when the water is released to produce electricity.
Global Warming (Danger Threaten the Earth)
Global warming is the term used to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate.
There is great debate among many people, and sometimes in the news, on whether global warming is real (some call it a hoax). But climate scientists looking at the data and facts agree the planet is warming. While many view the effects of global warming to be more substantial and more rapidly occurring than others do, the scientific consensus on climatic changes related to global warming is that the average temperature of the Earth has risen between 0.4 and 0.8 °C over the past 100 years. The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years.
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate carrying out global warming research have recently predicted that average global temperatures could increase between 1.4 and 5.8 °C by the year 2100. Changes resulting from global warming may include rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps, as well as an increase in occurrence and severity of storms and other severe weather events.
Here is a video showing what will happen if we don’t stop Global Warming: