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Renewable Energy Explained

Janaury 7, 2022

Fossil fuels are extracted and burned to produce energy. They supply around 80 percent of the electricity demands of the world and are non-renewable in nature. Fossil fuels are actually remains of carbon-based organisms that were buried millions of years ago. They are widely used today for creating a wide range of products including plastic and steel.  

The main non-renewable energy examples are oil, coal, and gas. Since carbon dioxide is released when fossil fuels are burned, this greenhouse gas traps heat and is responsible for causing global warming. If no action is taken against the use of fossil fuels, our planet will experience biodiversity loss, extreme weather, species extinction, and sea level rise. Hence, food scarcity and worsening conditions will become a reality if reliance on fossil fuels is not eliminated. 

Solgen Power solar panel install on a local resident.

Moreover, gas prices have been on the rise over the years and there is a battle for resources. It is due to this reason that there is a need to make the switch to renewable energy 

Types of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is harnessed from a source that will never run out. It is self-replenishing and natural. This is why it is necessary to consider renewable energy services. There are different types of renewable energy that can be utilized to power our planet. If you are working with a renewable energy consultant, you should know about the following renewable energy options.  

1. Wind

One of the most used renewable energy sources is wind. Wind power has been used to power various countries including the US and the UK. Many offshore and onshore wind farms have opened up to generate electricity. As the wind turbines turn, the kinetic energy is converted by the spinning blades to produce electric energy which is stored in a generator and fed to the national grid. Wind turbines have played a critical role in combatting climate change.  

2. Solar

Another renewable energy source that is commonly used is solar. Since sunlight is widely available, it is easy to utilize it to produce electricity. However, it is important to keep in mind that the amount of sunlight we receive varies depending on the time of day, season, and location. Solar panels capture sunlight and generate electricity through a physical reaction and joint chemical, called the photovoltaic effect. 

3. Hydro

The movement of falling or flowing water helps create hydropower which can be converted to electricity using hydroelectric power plants. These plants are commonly found at dams and have underwater turbines. Some countries like Norway and Switzerland rely heavily on hydropower for all their energy needs. Moreover, hydropower provides clean drinking water, irrigation support, and flood control. Since hydropower is rather affordable, it is easy to set up and offers low-cost electricity.  

4. Bioenergy

Biomass renewable energy or bioenergy generates electricity by burning organic matter. Anything can be used as a fuel source to produce energy, from food waste to timber to plants. Although carbon dioxide is also released by biomass renewable energy, it is considered renewable due to the fact that the carbon emitted can be absorbed and the fuel sources can be regrown. As bioenergy is widely available, it is a reliable option. Besides, it allows us to reduce waste and generates electricity as well. However, biomass can be a bit expensive to store, gather, and transport. It is still carbon-neutral and provides a great alternative to fossil fuels.  

5. Geothermal Energy

Renewable energy engineering has come a long way and it has paved the way for geothermal energy. It converts the heat produced by the Earth’s core into electricity. A great thing about geothermal energy is that it is completely clean. Many geothermal plants have been set up to unleash untapped potential. These plants are reliable, safe, and long-lasting as well as low-risk. Besides, geothermal energy has minimal impact on the landscape and offers great versatility.  

6. Marine Energy

Marine energy takes hydropower to the next level. It is a renewable power source that harnesses electricity by converting the natural movement of water such as ocean currents, rivers, tides, and waves. Coastal countries have a lot of potential when it comes to harnessing marine energy. Moreover, marine energy has a less environmental impact and produces no waste. Also, marine energy plants are long-lasting and just as sustainable as solar panels or wind turbines.  

Benefits of Using Renewable Energy

What makes renewable energy worthwhile is that it offers a host of environmental, human, and economic benefits. The fact is that renewable energy has the potential to change our lives for the better. It is virtually inexhaustible and naturally occurring. Here are some of the reasons why renewable energy is a better alternative to fossil fuels. 

1. Generates No Emissions

The best thing about renewable energy is that it doesn’t generate any emissions. Unlike fossil fuels which release a huge amount of greenhouse gas, renewable resources like wind turbines and solar panels don’t cause air pollution. Besides, fossil fuels also produce fluorinated gases, nitrous oxide, and methane.   

2. Lowers Overall Carbon Footprint

Another reason why renewable energy is worth pursuing is that it lowers the carbon footprint. It is important you understand that electricity is used for powering just about everything. Hence, we all have to make sure that renewable energy sources are used instead of fossil fuels. When you use renewable sources to power your home, you get to lower your carbon footprint and ensure that there are zero emissions. China renewable energy allows you to rethink how electricity is produced and used by your home.  

3. Reduces Harmful Air Pollutants

In addition to the above, renewable energy reduces harmful air pollutants which are responsible for all types of environmental and health hazards. When fossil fuels are burned, they form nitrogen oxide which creates acid rain, and smog, and harms the ozone layer. As you might already know, the ozone layer is vital for protecting us from UV rays. A weak ozone layer can affect our health in a number of ways and cause reduced lung function, airway inflammation, throat irritation, coughing, and damaged lung tissue.  

4. Uses Less Water

Traditional electricity production requires the use of natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy which require a ton of water to operate. Otherwise, the power plants would heat up. For instance, natural gas and coal electricity generation require as much as 60,000 gallons of water to produce just 1 MWh of electricity. By switching to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, there would no longer be a need to use water for electricity generation. The solar panels would only need to be cleaned and washed once every few weeks. As for hydropower, it relies on the flow or the falling of water. Therefore, renewable energy sources ensure less water usage.  

5. Benefits the Economy

Lastly, renewable energy is beneficial to the economy as it helps create jobs. Towards the end of 2019, 40% of energy workers in America worked in the clean energy sector. Besides, wind and solar energy jobs outnumber gas and coal jobs in many states as reported by the Environmental Defense Fund. As there are lower technology costs and supportive policies in place, investments in the renewable energy sector will only continue to rise. This means that there will be more jobs in the sector.  

Renewable Energy at Home

Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, you can use clean energy at home. Here are some of the ways that you can utilize renewable energy. 

1. Installing Solar Panels

The first thing that you need to do to make renewable energy is to install solar panels in your home. If you are a homeowner, it is a great idea to install solar panels as they help boost the value of your property. Besides, there are plenty of incentives provided by the government which encourage the installation of solar panels. Moreover, having solar panels installed would ensure that you no longer need to pay your utility provider for electricity ever again. Instead, you can sell solar electricity. 

2. Participate in Shared Solar

If you don’t have the funds to install solar panels, you might want to participate in shared solar. You should be able to subscribe to a shared solar project such as a solar garden or a solar farm. All you need to do is pay a monthly fee for using the electricity produced by the solar installation. Thus, you will be able to use clean energy and save money at the same time. 

3. Purchase Renewable Energy Credits

Another tip that you should consider to increase clean energy usage is purchasing renewable energy credits. The majority of utility companies provide options to enable the environmentally conscious to source their electricity from renewable energy sources like solar or wind.  

4. Use a Solar Charger

Since even the smallest of efforts make a huge difference, you should consider using a solar charger to power your phone or laptop. It is an inexpensive way to go solar. If you are a renter and your landlord doesn’t want to install solar panels, you can simply use a solar charger.  

5. Install a Solar Heating System

Heating requires a lot of electricity which is why it is necessary to install a solar heating system. It will allow you to reduce your energy costs and ensure that you always have access to heating. However, you have to keep in mind that it wouldn’t be as effective during the winter as there would be less sunlight.  

6. Get a Wind Turbine

If you live in a windy city, it might be a good idea to make the most of it by installing a wind turbine. It is not as expensive as you think and allows you to generate enough electricity to power your home.  

Careers in Renewable Energy

The growth in renewable energy has pushed for more jobs and has helped people transition to a different role. Green investments are playing an important role in speeding up the recovery of the economy through job creation. They have a positive economic impact and are addressing climate change. Although the coronavirus pandemic resulted in millions of people worldwide losing their jobs, investment in renewable energy is paving the way for more jobs. Today, people can easily make a career in renewable energy. Climate-positive sectors are providing greater opportunities. In fact, going green is necessary for tackling an employment squeeze and extreme weather.  

Investing in renewable energy provides an economic opportunity and should not be considered a cost. Since every industry is reliant on fossil fuels, switching to renewable energy is opening up more jobs for the unemployed. It is estimated that the United States will create 4.5 million jobs every year thanks to green investment. 

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