Unless you want to return to a life of darkness and no heat, we must produce energy to live with modern conveniences. Everything from dung to wood and coal to fossil fuel powers the world, but to make energy safer and more affordable, we must utilize renewable sources from the world around us.
Are you interested in producing power from a source that isn’t exhaustible or finite? We can utilize the Earth’s natural resources as an alternative to traditional energy, and it is a growing industry with lots of promise.
These are the types of renewable energy sources we have available to us.
Type #1: Solar Energy Sources
We have all heard of solar energy, which is with us daily. The sun emits energy vital for all plant growth, but we can also harness it for power.
Radiant energy is captured through solar panels and converted using photovoltaic systems to convert the sunlight into electricity and either be used directly for power or stored inside solar battery cells.
We are only limited by the amount of sun that shines, depending on location, season, weather conditions and time of day. While enough solar energy reaches the planet’s surface in one hour to power the entire world for one year, harnessing it in abundance can be challenging.
Type #2: Wind Energy Sources
Like the sun, the wind is also with us naturally. Temperature differences in the Earth’s atmosphere create pressure variations and produce different areas of airflow. This is how wind occurs, and we can thank the sun for it.
Harnessing wind requires turbines that utilize the air current by spinning blades to convert kinetic energy inside drive generators to feed the energy grid and store it for future use. Wind farms are usable for the power grid, while other commercial operations provide their power needs through this process. Small-scale wind turbines can also be purchased for home and farm use.
This clean source of energy doesn’t produce harmful emissions. Still, it does require the building of components and maintenance as well as electrical infrastructure to run the electricity along power lines or store it in batteries.
Type #3: Biogas Energy Sources
Biogas is an exciting and environmentally friendly renewable resource that is growing fast. This is among the most ethical ways to produce energy because it uses waste to create electricity, which means less of an impact on our planet. It uses various sources of biomass to be converted into energy, including:
- Solid waste
- Landfill waste
- Mill and forestry residue
- Animal waste
- Agricultural residue
- Dedicated energy crops
The biogas system involves different methods of processing organic materials to produce electricity, but it is clean and energy efficient. These include:
- Biological Conversion by fermenting and anaerobic digestion of biomass to make ethanol and natural gas.
- Direct Combustion by burning biomass to heat water and buildings and producing electricity.
- Thermo Conversion by decomposing biomass through gasification and pyrolysis.
- Chemical Conversion by transesterification to change fats, grease and oils into biodiesel.
Type #4: Hydro Energy Sources
The next renewable resource on the planet is harnessed is water. This has been used for thousands of years with early water wheels for grinding wheat up to large hydroelectric power stations from dams.
Water is utilized for its natural flow or by creating a barrier so you have a reservoir where you can control the flow to drive turbines. This creates electricity to power the grid and for storage, and it is more reliable than solar and wind. Pumped-storage hydropower comes from dams, and run-of-river hydropower uses channels to funnel water, but both are very versatile and can be used on a large scale.
This process disrupts waterways and negatively affects animals and fish by changing water levels, currents and migration paths.
Type #5: Ocean Energy Sources
Another way to make energy is from the ocean. There are two processes utilized.
Thermal Energy This generates energy through the warm water surface temperatures. The sun hits the water and increases the surface temperature, and it is pumped through a low-pressure chamber where the boiling point drops to produce steam to drive a turbine on an electrical generator.
Mechanical Energy The sun and moon’s gravity creates a bulge in the ocean that the Earth rotates into, causing the ebb and flow of the tide. Along with the wind, this creates tidal movement captured through floating devices that produce power.
Type #6: Geothermal Energy Sources
Geothermal energy is produced from trapped heat inside the Earth, under its crust. This is through the natural process of radioactive decay, which escapes through volcanos and geysers. It can operate a turbine and produce electricity by harnessing the steam from the heated water below the surface. It can be costly to build the infrastructure, but once there, it leaves only a small footprint and is naturally replenished.
These are the types of renewable energy sources, and we need them to sustain our lives in harmony with the planet. Ultimately, we are impacting the Earth by existing, so we must adopt these technologies to thrive for the next millennia.