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Renewable Energy Resources and Their Importance

In this renewable energy resources and their importance post we have briefly explained about wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, tidal, and biomass energy.

Renewable Energy Resources Supply

Renewable energy resources are those sources of energy which can be replenished and are not depleted because of our consumption. Renewable resources include wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, tidal, and biomass energy. Nuclear fusion also falls into this category. Typically, renewable energy resources have much lower greenhouse gas and other emissions associated with use.

Renewable energy

Renewable Energy Resources and Their Importance

Wind

We can put wind to work by utilizing it to power turbines that generate electricity. The blades of the turbines turn a shaft which then powers a series of gears that feed into a generator and produce electricity.

Wind turbines can be situated on agricultural or forested land, so there’s little or no need to clear new areas of land to site wind fields. Some people take issue with the noise and visual pollution of the wind turbines. There are also concerns about bird and bat mortality.

Solar

Harnessing energy from the sun epitomizes the idea of a renewable energy source. We can use solar energy to heat water or homes and it can be converted into electricity. Currently, converting solar energy to electricity either occurs with the use of photovoltaic cells or solar power plants. The PV cells are able to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Solar power plants use the solar energy to produce steam to operate a generator. Like wind energy, however, solar energy is limited in availability based on localized weather conditions, and it can be challenging to store the energy generated.

Geothermal

The core of the Earth generates a tremendous amount of renewable energy resources supply in the form of heat, and in many places around the world (particularly near tectonically active areas), we can harness that heat in wells and bring it to the surface to heat and cool homes and buildings.

Like solar and wind, geothermal power can be captured at an individual level you install a geothermal heat pump to cool and heat your home  or at a more centralized scale by using dry steam or hot water to generate electricity.

Since no fuel is combusted, the plants release no greenhouse gas emissions like a traditional fossil fuel plant would. There are minor emissions of compounds responsible for acid rain.

Biomass

Biomass energy renewable energy resources supply a broad range of fuels including wood and other plant material, food waste, garbage, and manure.

In the case of wood and plant material, it can be processed and combusted for a beneficial end use such as generating electricity or firing a boiler. With food waste and manure, the gases resulting from the processes of decomposition of these materials can be harnessed and combusted for a beneficial end use.

Utilizing biomass for energy not only provides us with a renewable energy source, but often allows us to put a material that would otherwise be considered waste to a good use. It’s important to remember that while a renewable energy source, biomass fuels each have their own set of environmental impacts to consider.

Hydropower

Water is stored in a reservoir, generating a lot of potential energy. Then it is forced through a dam, turning a turbine, which then turns a generator to produce electricity.

Used water is then returned to the river. While much work has been done to ensure that hydroelectric power has minimal negative impact on the environment (including the ability of hydropower facilities to earn a low-impact rating), it is important to recognize the ecosystem disruptions this energy resource can cause.

Damming a river and utilizing the water to generate electricity alters the aquatic and riparian ecosystems, can limit the ability of fish to navigate across their natural habitat extent, and can change the temperature and composition of the river itself.

Tidal energy

Tidal energy is another form of hydro energy, using the ocean to generate power. The twice-daily tidal currents work to drive turbines connected to generators, which, although not constant, is very predictable.

This means that the amount of energy produced during each tidal current can be easily estimated, and power stations can compensate for low tide currents when needed. Tidal energy is particularly useful for towns and cities located near the coast as this energy can be harnessed for the local population without any trouble.

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