Renewable energy is easily described as energy that is sustainable over a long period of time; something endless, or something that cannot run out easily, like the sun or the wind. Renewable energy is sometimes also referred to as ‘alternative energy’ as it represents the alternative to the more commonly used sources that are non-sustainable, e.g. coal or oil.
Types of renewable energy
There are several types of sources in use across the world today, including: Solar energy, Wind, energy, Tidal energy, Geothermal energy, Hydro energy and Biomass energy.
a. Solar energy
This is energy tapped directly from the sun. According to studies, the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface in one hour from the sun is way more than the earth’s total energy requirements for a whole year.
b. Wind energy
Over the recent years, wind has become a great source of clean energy. Wind farms are becoming increasingly common where turbines are used to harness electricity by driving generators that then create electric power.
c. Hydro energy
Hydro-electric power generation is one of the most explored commercial sources of renewable energy around the world. Electricity is generated by building a dam or barrier across a large reservoir which is then used to create a controlled flow of water that drives a turbine, generating electricity.
d. Tidal energy
Tidal energy banks on the twice-daily tidal currents to drive turbine generators to generate electricity. This provides a predictable source of renewable energy once the tidal movements are mastered.
e. Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy is availed by harnessing the natural heat below the earth’s surface, and can be used to generate electricity or to generate heat for home use.
f. Biomass Energy
To create biomass energy, solid fuel made from plant materials is converted into electricity. The plant materials are sourced from agricultural, industrial and domestic waste.
Why renewable energy?
There are many good reasons why people are encouraged to shun fossil energy and adopt renewable sources of energy. Some of the reasons are:
i. Sustainability: They make use of resources straight from the environment to generate power. These sources include the sun, wind, biomass, tides and biomass, and are never going to run out in the foreseeable future.
ii. Easy to maintain: For the most part, these technologies require less maintenance overall as compared to, say, generators which use traditional fuel sources. This is because generating technology for renewable energy like solar panels and wind turbines have either few or no moving parts and also do not need any flammable, combustible fuel sources to operate.
iii. Affordable: They are more time and money-efficient. This is because they have low maintenance and operating costs. There is no payment required to refuel when using renewable sources. That means no monthly bills!
iv. Kind to human and environmental health: One of the greatest advantages of renewable energy generation sources is that they emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air. This translates to a smaller carbon footprint and a healthier environment in the long run.