Renewable energy refers to energy derived from a source that replenishes naturally, but they are limited. Renewable sources cannot virtually be depleted with time. However, they yield a reduced amount of energy per unit of time. The primary forms of renewable energy sources include solar, biomass, hydropower, wind, and geothermal. As the world population increases, it is the same way demand for energy is growing to power our communities, homes, and businesses. According to Twidell & Weir (2015), the expansion and innovation of renewable energy sources are a major factor in upholding a sustainable energy level and safeguarding the planet earth from severe climatic change. Research shows that renewable energy sources constitute up 25 percent of the global electricity today (Twidell & Weir, 2015). However, according to International Energy Agency (IEA), the share of renewable energy is expected to rise by 30 percent by 2025. The paper explores renewable energy sources.
Role of Renewable Energy Sources
In the mid-1800s, wood was the primary source of almost the world’s energy requirements for cooking, lighting, and heating. From the late 1800 to the present, fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum, and coal have been the most significant energy sources. Wood and hydropower were the common and most consumed renewable energy resources up to the 1990s. Since that time, the percentage and amounts share cumulative energy consumption in countries like the U.S. from wind energy, biofuels, solar energy, and geothermal energy surged. According to EIA, in 2019, the combined energy share of these renewable sources was bigger than the combined share of pf hydro and wood energy. The use of solar, geothermal, wind, and biofuels in America in 2019 was almost three times bigger than in 2000 (Quaschning, 2016).
Renewable energy plays a significant role in cutting down the emission of greenhouse gases. Using renewable energy can minimize the dependence on fossil fuels, which are the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emission in the U.S.
Solar energy is obtained by tapping radiant energy from sunlight and changing it into hot water, heat, or electricity. Solar is converted into energy using photovoltaic (PV) systems with the help of solar cells. One of the advantages of solar energy is that the functions of the sunlight are endless. Quaschning (2016) asserts that with the appropriate technology to capture it, the solar energy supply is limitless. This implies that it renders non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels obsolete. Moreover, depending on solar energy instead of fossil fuels enables us to advance environmental conditions and public health. On a long-term basis, solar energy can eliminate energy costs and minimize bills related to energy in the short term.
Wind farms harvest wind energy flowing with the help of turbines and changing it into electricity. There are various types of systems used in changing wind energy. Utility-scale wind farms are one form of techniques used in converting wind into energy. They are purchased by wholesale or contract. Another type of wind-power generating system is the commercial-grade wind-powered can power several organizations in different locations. Single wind turbines help in supplementing pre-existing energy firms. Wind energy benefits are that it is a clean energy source, meaning that it does not contaminate the air like other energy types. Wind energy does not emit carbon dioxide or any harmful substances that can lead to environmental erosion or negatively impact human health like acid rain, smog, or other tapping heat-blocking gases.
Hydroelectric power is mostly associated with dams. Water flows via the dam turbines to yield electricity called pumped-storage hydropower. Hydroelectric power is advantageous because it is versatile and can be produced at small scale projects such as underwater turbines or lower dams on streams and rivers and large-scale projects such as Hoover Dam.
Geothermal energy refers to the energy that is trapped underneath the crust of energy due to the earth’s formation about 4.5 years ago. Sometimes vast volumes of this heat naturally escape causing familiar occurrences like geysers and volcanic eruptions. This escaping heat can be trapped and used to yield geothermal energy with the help of steams that originate from heated water pumping below the earth’s surface, which then comes to the earth’s surface and can be used to run turbines. The advantage of geothermal energy is that it has excellent potential for the supply of energy. Moreover, geothermal energy can be constructed underground; thus, it leaves minimal or no footprint on the earth’s surface.
Bioenergy is a renewable source obtained from biomass. Biomass is an organic substance that is derived from living organisms and plants. The use of wood in a fireplace is one example of biomass that many people are familiar with. Biomass generates energy via combustion and harnessing methane gas which is yielded by the natural decomposition of organic matter in landfills or even ponds. The use of biomass in energy production forms carbon dioxide released into the air; however, the generation of plants consumes the same volume of carbon dioxide, leading to a balanced atmosphere. Biomass has several uses in our daily lives, not only for individual use but business as well. Nelson & Starcher (2015) demonstrate that in 2017 biomass energy comprised up to 5 percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S. This energy originated from biofuels such as ethanol, wood, and energy produced from methane tapped from landfills or municipal waste combustion.
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In conclusion, renewable energy sources are the appropriate sustainable energy sources that can serve as alternative energy to indigenous fossil fuels like coal and oil. Just because energy sources are renewable does not mean that they are 100 percent friendly to the environment. However, they pack a lighter environmental footprint effect than fossil fuels. The rise in renewable energy consumption is due to its friendliness to the ground and the increasingly becoming economical for businesses and homeowners.