he Global demand for energy is increasing rapidly, as the world’s population continues to grow. Nonrenewable energy sources are scarce and unsustainable. On the other hand, Renewable energy (RE) sources are environmentally friendly and, unlike fossil fuels, will not deplete.
RE can be sensed in our daily lives. Solar energy can be felt in bright sunlight and the warmth that we feel when the sun’s light shines on our skin. Wind energy can be felt by the movement of tree branches and leaves. Geothermal energy can be felt through hot water pools.
RE is generated from natural sources that are abundant in most parts of the world, which implies that it does not deplete with high consumption. It has a negligible environmental impact when compared to fossil fuels. RE has become an essential component and duty for businesses seeking to achieve sustainable development. Also, the usage of RE is expanding day by day. In 2017, 8% of the world’s electricity was produced using RE; China received a quarter of this amount, and the United States of America, India, and Japan shared a sixth.
RE sources include solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, tidal, and wave energy. The sun generates solar irradiation, which is captured by photovoltaic solar panels. These panels contain cells that absorb sun rays and convert them into consumable energy such as electricity.
The energy that reaches the globe in one hour is higher than the energy utilized by the world in a year, demonstrating the vastness of solar energy (SE). SE is reliable because it depends on the sun, does not contaminate the environment, and provides enough electricity for the location where it is built, and sometimes more.
Wind energy has been used by humans since ancient times. Five thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians made boats driven by the wind. In 200 BC, humans used windmills to grind grain and pump water. Nowadays, Wind turbines are used to generate electricity from the wind. These turbines contain a very tall tower with two or three fan-like blades rotated by the wind. The blades drive the generator located inside the tower and produce electricity. A group of wind turbines is known as wind farms and is found near farmland in narrow mountain passes. Also, in oceans where there is stronger and more steady wind.
Geothermal energy, which is obtained from the heat of the Earth’s interior, is another source of RE. The Earth’s core is located deep beneath the Earth’s surface and has a temperature over 6000°C. Some of the heat from the Earth’s interior can be seen as it floats to the surface. The Earth’s internal heat melts surrounding rocks, and the molten materials seep to the Earth’s surface from volcanoes in the form of lava. It also heats groundwater and transports it to the surface. These water streams are known as hot springs.
Geothermal heat can be acquired in a variety of ways. One of these ways is to employ geothermal heat pumps, in which water pipelines are extended to the building and heated by geothermal energy located beneath the ground. Steam is another application of geothermal energy. Underground steam exists in several parts of the earth and naturally comes to the surface. This steam is directly transmitted to the power plant, but because the soil in some regions of the planet is dry, water is injected underground to make steam.
Biomass energy is also regarded as a RE source. Any substance produced by plants or microbes is referred to as biomass. Plants obtain energy from the sun through photosynthesis. This energy is stored in plants even after they die. As biomass feedstock, manure, trash, and crops such as corn, soybeans, and sugarcane can all be used. This energy is obtained by burning biomasses, which consist of drying wood, compost, and litter, and then burning them to generate heat or electricity. Biofuels can also be made from biomass. This biofuel is blended with gasoline and can be used to power automobiles and trucks. As a result, blended biofuel emits fewer dangerous contaminants than gasoline.
Hydropower is a type of energy that is generated from water sources such as dams, reservoirs, and flowing river water. The turbines move and rotate in response to the passage of water, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. It is also thought to be one of the oldest RE sources used by humans. Initially in grain mills, when hydropower was used to power the mills. It is also one of the most used and vital kinds of RE, accounting for 17% of the total electricity production. It is abundant in China, Brazil, and Canada.
Scientists and engineers are continually attempting to discover new forms of RE, the most important are tidal energy and wave energy. The energy generated by ocean tides is sufficient to generate electricity. The movement of the tides is used to rotate the blades of turbines in projects that profit from this energy. Other projects employ small dams to constantly fill reservoirs at high tide, slowly release water, and spin turbines at low tide.
Wave energy is generated by ocean waves, lakes, or rivers. In wave energy projects, turbines are used. The constant flow of water through these floating pieces of equipment powers turbines and creates electricity.
The primary goal of employing RE is to achieve more environmentally friendly and sustainable development. RE provides various benefits for both individuals and the environment. It remains with the human being on earth. It cannot be drained, the water is continually flowing, the sun shines every day, the mild wind never stops, and the powerful wind is permanent in some locations, providing the planet with an infinite source of energy.
RE is friendly to the environment. They are non-flammable, unlike fossil fuels, and their use helps the globe reduce greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels. These greenhouse gases have contributed to climate catastrophe, forest fires, and accelerated ice melting at the earth’s poles. RE is also safe for humans because it does not produce dangerous pollutants into the environment, lowering the number of diseases spread among people.
The RE advancement, increased efficiency, and dissemination among individuals have led to a low cost of installing and maintaining some of them. For instance, wind and solar power energy generation are less expensive than petroleum gas generation. It also boosts the country’s economy by reducing energy imports or purchases from producing countries.
On the other hand, people in industries have relied on fossil fuels for hundreds of years. The switch to alternative energies is costly and requires major changes to existing systems. So, the transition to RE requires large-scale changes by governments and companies and the provision of support and assistance in providing funds for alternative technologies. Also, some alternative energy technologies are still relatively new and in their early stages and require further research and development, and these sources may be vital for saving energy while using other resources.
As a result, several actions must be taken to ensure the efficient use of renewable energy, including shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy, increasing investments in renewable energy, improving global access to components and raw materials for RE technologies, and making RE technology a global public good. To make RE technology a worldwide public good and available to all, barriers to knowledge exchange and technology transfer, such as intellectual property constraints, must be removed.