Renewable energy is generated from natural sources such as the sun, wind, water, and geothermal heat to create energy such as electricity and heat. These types of energy are considered ‘renewable’ as they can be replenished with little to no environmental impact.
1. Solar Energy
2. Wind Energy
3. Hydroelectric Energy
4. Geothermal Energy
5. Biomass Energy
6. Ocean Energy
7. Hydrogen Energy
8. Tidal energy
Solar and wind energy use technology to capture the energy and convert it into electricity, while hydropower and geothermal energy use natural processes to generate energy.
Solar energy is the most common and arguably the most known source of renewable energy. Solar energy uses the sun as its natural source. Sunlight is converted into energy through various methods. PV technology converts sunlight directly into electricity; solar heating uses the sun’s radiation to heat water or air, and concentrated solar power uses mirrors to focus the sun’s energy and generate electricity.
Wind energy is also a very common and well-known type so renewable energy. Wind energy captures the wind's kinetic energy using windmills, also known as wind turbines. Windmills are large spinning blades connected to a shaft and generator. As the blades spin, they turn the shaft and generate electricity. The electricity is then sent to a power grid to power facilitates with electricity, heat and light.
Hydropower is the process if using of flowing water to generate electricity, known as hydroelectricity. It is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy and is still one of the most common forms used today. Hydropower is often generated using dams, which create a reservoir of water. The water is released through turbines to generate electricity.
Geothermal energy is a type of renewable energy generated by harnessing the Earth’s internal heat. This heat is generated from volcanic activity below the surface of the Earth. Geothermal energy is harnessed by drilling into the Earth, typically in areas with high levels of geothermal activity, such as tectonic plates. Hot water and steam are extracted to the surface and used to generate electricity. Geothermal plants may also use hot water for direct heating or cooling of buildings. The hot water or steam is piped away, cooled and returned to the ground. This is known as a closed-loop system.
Biomass energy is derived from organic matter, such as plants and animals. Biomass is burned directly to produce heat or converted into a gas, such as methane, and burned to generate electricity. Biomass can also produce biofuel and is used to power vehicles in an environmentally friendly way.
Environmentally friendly: Using renewable energy instead of traditional types of energy is a way better option for the environment for many reasons. Renewables reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, water pollution, and the need to extract and burn fossil fuels, which can have detrimental effects on the environment. Using renewable energy sources also provides a clean, reliable, renewable form of energy with no negative environmental effects. They are a vital tool that will help us reduce global warming and the effects of climate change.
Cost-effective: Renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost-effective, with the cost of solar and wind energy decreasing significantly in recent years. In previous years, renewable energy prices were high due to the low competition in the sector and the novelty of the process and infrastructure. However, as it becomes more common, the cost of renewables is generally competitive with traditional energy sources, and in some cases, it is even cheaper. It is certainly more cost-effective in the long term as it requires no maintenance and no costs after installation.
Sustainable: Renewable energy is produced from natural resources that are constantly replenished and are not depleted when used. Renewable energy systems can be set up, requiring little to no maintenance and not generating harmful by-products, so we can continue using them without worrying about harming the environment. Renewables ensure that our energy needs are met both now and in the future.
Creates jobs: The renewable energy industry is multiplying drastically, creating an abundance of jobs worldwide and, in turn, boosting the economy. Renewable energy creates countless jobs in various areas, such as engineering, research, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and operation. Not to mention the more corporate areas of renewable energy companies, such as marketing, sales, finance, management and customer service.
Energy security: Renewables are spread out geographically, so if one area experiences an energy shortage, other regions can supply the energy as a backup.
Non-renewable energy sources are limited and finite, and they will eventually be exhausted and depleted. As a result, the cost of non-renewable energy sources is expected to increase over time, as petrol has in recent years. Another major issue with non-renewable energy is the significant harm to the environment. Burning fossil fuels for energy releases extremely harmful pollutants into the environment and contributes to global climate change. With the growing population, fossil fuels are at an all-time high and, therefore, so is the damage to the earth. Non-renewable energy sources include:
Coal is a fossil fuel formed over millions of years by the decomposition of organic matter. It is a black, combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When burned, it releases energy in the form of heat and light.
Oil is a fossil fuel formed from the remains of organisms. It is an adhesive liquid composed of hydrocarbons, oxygen, nitrogen, and other compounds. It releases energy when burned.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed from the remains of ancient organisms. It is a colourless, odourless gas composed primarily of methane, ethane, and propane. When burned, it releases energy.
Uranium is a radioactive metal element mined globally. When uranium is placed in a nuclear reactor, it releases energy from heat and light.
Nuclear power is created through the process of splitting atoms of radioactive materials, such as uranium, to produce heat to generate steam, which then drives a turbine to produce electricity.
Currently in New Zealand, according to the EECA, 70% of energy is currently sourced from fossil fuels. This is important, as about 40% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used for activities such as driving cars and trucks, travelling by plane, burning gas and coal for manufacturing, or creating electricity.
Renewable energy costs have decreased in recent years due to technological advancements and policy support. The cost of solar PV systems has declined by more than 70% since 2010. All other types of renewable energy costs have also dropped significantly, with prices now being competitive with other forms of electricity generation.
It is a myth that renewable energy is unreliable. In fact, according to Yale University, renewable energy is more reliable than any other kind of energy. Germany — where renewables supply nearly half of the country’s electricity — boasts a grid that is one of the most reliable in Europe and the world!
Renewable energy is generally reliable, but its availability depends on the source and region. Wind and solar energy, for example, are periodic energy sources and can be less reliable than other renewable sources such as hydropower and geothermal energy. However, if enough energy is stored and no excessive amounts of electricity are used, this should not be an issue. To ensure reliable energy from renewable sources, it is important to have a mix of different energy sources that can balance out periods of low production.
Initial Cost: Renewable energy technologies are generally more expensive to install than traditional energy sources, such as coal and natural gas. However, they are cheaper to maintain, making them more sustainable in regard to financing.
Intermittent Supply: Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are irregular, meaning that the energy source is not always available if needed. This makes it challenging to plan for energy supply. But as the sector continues to develop and thrive, this is less of a problem as energy can be derived from another renewable energy farm.
Land Use: Renewable energy technologies require large areas of land to be effective, which can lead to conflicts with other land uses.
Renewable energy is the future of our planet. It is a clean, reliable, and sustainable source of energy that can help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make our world a cleaner place to live. We need to switch to renewable energy sources to ensure a clean future for our planet. With technological advancements, renewable energy sources are becoming more accessible and efficient. It is up to us to switch to renewable energy sources and ensure that our world is capable of sustaining itself in the future.
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