What is a Renewable Energy Resource?
Renewable energy is a form of energy that can be replenished. Renewable energy is infinite and continues to be available even as it is being used continuously. It is like an unending source of energy. Renewable energy is a form of Natural resources. There are different sources through which Renewable energy can be gotten; these sources of Renewable energy are called Renewable Resources.
Renewable energy forms a significant part of global energy consumption and many advanced countries such as America and China are investing billions of dollars to generate and use Renewable energy by harnessing energy from biofuels, wind, sun (solar energy) and hydro energy resources.
List of Renewable Energy Resources
- Hydrological Renewable Energy Resource (Hydro-electricity)
- Wind energy
- Solar energy
- Tidal renewable energy resource
- Wave Power
- Geothermal energy resource
- Biomass energy resource
- Ocean thermal energy conversion
Hydroelectricity energy is the most widely used form of Renewable energy worldwide. In this, electricity is generated from fast flowing water source such as artificially created dams or fast flowing natural dams and also by storing water in very large reservoirs and using it as a source of fast flowing water. Hydroelectricity is best done in places having rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year. The initial cost needed to setup hydroelectricity including the construction of dams and installation of turbines is high but it is cheaper in the long run because the continuous flow of fast flowing water ensures the constant generation of electricity.
Hydro energy is a clean source of renewable energy; however, the creation of dams leads to destruction of habitat and makes land unavailable for farming as the vegetation is cleared. The disadvantage of this type if Renewable energy is that the dams created may cause flooding with collapse. Many countries of the world make use of this as their source of power generation such as Nigeria.
Wind is a clean source of Renewable energy that is used for also generating electricity and was used some years ago for milling (Windmills). Wind energy is not used commonly but has been used significantly for generating electrical power in 1994 in USA (California). The disadvantage of this type of Renewable energy is that it is not available for use in all places except in places with strong steady and reliable wind. The advantages of wind energy are that the land between the turbines can still be used for farming, it is does not cause environmental pollution; however, it may cause noise when sited near residential buildings.
The sun is the primary (main) source of energy to the earth that is used by plant, animals and humans. Solar energy is used for generating electricity which does not cause pollution, noise or alteration of vegetation the solar energy is safe and is available for use in almost all parts of the world except when there is cloud cover for most parts of the day and long hours of darkness in winter in places such as Britain. It is favorable in places such as the tropics; the cost of production however has hindered the wide use of this safe and clean source of electrical energy word wide especially in developing countries. Photovoltaic (PV) Solar power is generated by use of the energy from the sun.
Tidal energy is the very reliable and predictable but only available in places with maximum tidal range. This type of Renewable energy is harnessed and used in places such as the Bay of Fundy in Canada, Rance estuary in north-west France, Mersey estuary, Morecambe Bay and Solway Firth. The use of tidal energy does not contribute to global warming but causes permanent flooding of marshlands and wetland habitats which are feeding grounds for migratory birds.
Heat energy can be generated in places with active volcanoes through heated rocks and molten magma such as in New Zealand, Iceland, Kenya and other countries in Central America. This is done by pumping cold water down into a rock heated by volcano and it is then returned to the surface as steam which can then be used for generating electricity. This causes emission of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide into the environment.
Biomass energy is a form of energy gotten from organic matter such as plants and animals waste. This is used in production of biogas which can be used for cooking, as car fuel and also for generation of electricity. Biomass energy is widely used word wide in countries such as Germany, United States of America, United Kingdom (England), India, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Austria and some other African countries. Brazil uses sugarcane to produce ethanol that can be used as car fuel. Advantage of this Renewable energy is that it can be used in any part of the world. The disadvantage of this is that the release of Methane gas causes global warming.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
The United States of America is funding an experimental scheme off the coast of India in order to convert the high temperature difference between surface water and that found at depth in tropical seas to provide electrical energy.
Renewable Resources Advantages over Non Renewable Energy Resources
Benefits of Renewable Resources are many compared to non-renewable energy resources; their importance are listed below.
Benefits of Renewable Energy Resources
- Always available: these resources are available to everyone anytime and can be replenished.
- No Competition: because Renewable Resources are readily available, there is no competition for these resources
- Greater energy diversity: there are many sources of renewable energy that can be used for different purposes
- Security availability: because renewable resources are available to anyone and can always be replenished, no one steals from another, hence it is secured. Examples of such types of Renewable Resources include Water, Solar energy and many more.
- Cleaner environment: most renewable resources can be used without having to cause environmental pollution such as solar energy for making solar panels that can generate electricity without making noise or polluting the environment.
Renewable energy Disadvantages
- Environmental pollution in with some Renewable resources such as geothermal energy, biomass etc.
- May not favor some parts of the world (Some renewable resources may not be available in all parts of the world)
- High cost of setting up some power plants such as solar power plants makes it not common in poor countries and not affordable for all even within rich countries.
Renewable energy uses
- Generation of electricity
- Transportation (Such as use of bio ethanol and biodiesel to power cars in Brazil and use of solar energy to power ship and cars)
- Water Heating and cooling