Renewable energy, also referred to as green energy or clean energy, is the process of generating electricity for the power grid using resources which cannot be depleted such as those currently being used in fossil fuel generation of power. Currently the forms of renewable resources being researched are in wind energy, solar power, and geothermal energy. A greater emphasis is being applied towards the cultivation of energy resources which provide an alternative and clean power source to provide electricity for a growing society. Sustainability is the key in searching for methods to utilize existing resources to generate energy which could supply our power grid.
What are renewable resources?
A renewable resource is a natural resource which can replenish its supply through time or other natural processes. Although fossil fuels are commonly thought of as non renewable resources, they are in fact a source of energy which will be replenished over time, however the time it takes for this process is out of the scope of human needs as it takes hundreds of thousands of years to replenish. Because of our dependence on fossil fuels combined with projections of depleting stocks, the importance of renewable resource research and development for the purposes of generating power is one which has stepped into the forefront of the scientific and energy sectors of business.
Although renewable resources are considered to be a supply of natural resources which can be replenished, the challenge of finding a green, eco-friendly way to do accomplish this objective is one which the scientific community is currently facing. The key to finding an alternative energy supply is to find a renewable resource which can be utilized in a cost effective manner while ensuring that it is used in a manner which does not deplete the natural supply to a degree where resource acquisition exceeds power creation needs.
Types of Renewable Energy
The problems that renewable energy development is facing currently come down to the industrial and infrastructural depletion of these resources. Finding a way to manage these resources in a manner which does not deplete the natural supply is the primary concern for finding new green alternative power sources. It was once thought that a single type of renewable resources could provide a new reliable energy source for our growing society, but with the years of development and research into a solution for our energy needs it has become apparent that this can only be achieved through the integration of a variety of renewable energy types to achieve the best possible power generation system which is clean, environmentally friendly and self replenishing.
Wind energy consists of generating electricity by using wind turbines to capture energy from the wind patterns created by the rotation of the Earth. Since wind is a factor which is ever present on the Earth this form of power is a truly renewable resource. Other factors have to be taken into consideration however when it comes to the generation of wind energy. First it is a fairly costly method of energy generation and the land space required to implement wind turbine systems require a fairly significant area to occupy.
Solar energy is a resource which seems to be in perpetual supply on Earth. This form of energy was actually developed based off the systems used by biological life on Earth. Solar energy actually makes up for the majority of all energy consumed by living organisms on Earth. Without the process of photosynthesis, food energy would function in a dramatically different manner. There are downsides to utilizing solar power systems as our primary form of electricity generation. First it is a costly endeavor to pursue as the materials required in solar power panels are not cheap, primarily using silicon or other silicon like substances to produce an electrical charge.
Hydroelectric power is probably considered to be the most commonly used form of renewable resources on the planet. This type of energy source is used in almost all countries around the world with the exception of a few dozen. Hydroelectricity can cause issues with the environment however which until recently was a side effect not known by many. The use of dams actually damages the flow of sedimentary materials to our beaches, which causes a form of beach erosion that can affect ecosystems. Sedimentary deposits from water sources such as rivers are an essential part of the coastal ecosystem and are one of the primary factors in sustaining our beaches.
Biofuels are one source of bioenergy which is currently an area of debate in our society. Although this is a resources which we can grow and utilize to generate energy, crop figures estimate that production of agriculture for the use of biofuel technology is one which can severely hinder food supplies worldwide.
Hydrogen is another resource used for power in our modern society and is considered to be a fairly effective source of renewable energy. Hydrogen is one of the simplest chemical elements and as such it can be found in a variety of organic compounds. The output of energy created from hydrogen molecules is high and produces almost no pollution as a side effect of burning hydrogen. Currently hydrogen systems are being used in fuel cells which create chemical reactions from hydrogen and oxygen to generate water, heat and electricity.
Geothermal energy is a form of steam energy which uses the heat created in geothermal hot spots to evaporate water to power a steam turbine. This source of energy is clean, cost effective and safe. The drawback to utilizing geothermal energy currently is that the power plants to acquire electricity from this process must be built in areas where hotspots occur naturally on the Earth. This is usually in places where the Earths plates meet, volcanic environments or areas that have hot springs.