5 Efficient Sources of Renewable Energy

There are a multitude of reasons for the need of energy. From everyday technologies to population size, our world needs more and more resources to function what we have made possible with modern inventions.

There are different energy sources we use to power our homes, including fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. Nuclear energy is the most efficient and reliable source of nonrenewable resources among all other sources

Renewable energies are widely available, and there are two key factors that make them so. First, it is derived from the naturally replenishing resources of the planet. Second, it creates almost no greenhouse gas emissions.

These renewable sources of energy will be discussed below.

1.     Energy From The Wind

This renewable source of energy has a high efficiency rating, and is environmentally friendly. Generating energy from wind is possible using wind turbines and supplies energy to commercial and home establishments in large quantities. It has an average efficiency in the mid 30% but can peak in the mid 50% range [1].  

Although wind energy is weather-dependent, a turbine that has excess wind won’t move, which means energy creation will not happen because the generator is not powered. Wind power does have a high efficiency if you have space and a windy area to put up a field of giant turbines.

More than 60% of the manufacturing and operating cost of wind energy lies in installing the wind turbine, with the main elements being steel, copper, and concrete, which are in abundance [2]. This makes wind energy less expensive comparatively. 

2.     Power From Water ( Hydroelectric)

The world has relied on this energy source for decades. As of 2019, the capacity of global hydropower reached 1,308 gigawatts [3]. Energy using utilities throughout the world use hydropower to generate electricity because storing the energy is easy and dispatching the energy is cheap, and most importantly production is without fuel combustion. It doesn’t release pollutants the way burning fossil fuels as natural gas or coal does.

The energy produced by moving water (rivers, streams, ocean tides) accounts for 7% of total electricity generation. Using the flow of water, dams built on rivers generate hydroelectricity. 

After the generation of electricity, its supply to homes and establishments is possible through transmission lines. Despite rating high in efficiency and reliability, hydroelectricity also contributes a reasonable amount of river pollution and the destruction of aquatic lives. Also, drought can affect hydroelectricity production in rain-fed rivers.

3.     Solar Electricity

The sun is a natural source of energy, releasing enough energy to satisfy the global energy demand making solar energy generation one of the fastest commercial renewable resources. Production of solar energy is possible by harnessing the sun’s rays. It is absolutely free from any form of pollution and efficient for both residential and commercial purposes. It’s easy to maintain a solar panel. Most panels come with a 25-year warranty. The only disadvantage associated with solar energy is that it needs direct sunlight in order to work.

4.     Geothermal Power Generation

Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy that relies on the heat from the earth. Hot water naturally exists at different depths and temperatures below the earth’s surface. The steam is brought to the surface through a process called “steam injection.” By drilling deep wells of a mile or more into underground reservoirs, steam is pumped up from boiling water and used as a resource to provide variety of heating needs throughout businesses. The largest group of geothermal plants are found at Yellowstone National Park, a geothermal field located in northern California. This has an added water source by the use of reclaimed wastewater. Geothermal power sources are different in that they do not need fuel! However, the cost of drilling and configuring geothermal wells is high, along with the risk that they won’t find a good source.

5.     Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power plants create energy through a process called nuclear fission. Nuclear reactors produce a lot of energy compared to their nonrenewable counterparts. At 93%, Nuclear energy has far and away the highest capacity factor among all power sources [4]. Nuclear power plants are the easiest type of plant to maintain because they have a long lifespan. The capacity factor measures the ability of a system to “kick out” power and is usually calculated by dividing the total capacity in MWs of power plants by their combined annual output. To replace one gigawatt of nuclear energy, you need two coal or three renewable plants with combined annual electrical output that makes up one gigawatt.

The best way to increase energy efficiency is by transitioning to clean energy sources. Whether you’re employing environmentally-friendly options like wind or solar, or taking advantage of more traditional renewable resources, the methods discussed in this article that will reduce our carbon footprint significantly.

References 

[1] Pryor, S.C., Barthelmie, R.J. & Shepherd, T.J. (2020). 20% of US electricity from wind will have limited impacts on system efficiency and regional climate. Sci Rep 10, 541. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-57371-1 

[2] Mckenna, Russell & Leye, P. & Fichtner, Wolf. (2016). Key challenges, prospects for large wind turbines. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 53. 1212-1221. 10.1016/j.rser.2015.09.080.

[3] Statista. (2020). Cumulative hydropower and pumped storage installed capacity worldwide from 2014 to 2019. 

[4] Energy.Gov. (2020). Nuclear Power is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It’s Not Even Close.

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Miriam Fetterman

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