Five Types of Renewable Energy Explained
Renewable energy is energy that never runs out. Think of it as part of nature. Ie, the supply is endless and will continue to be available as long as our Planet exists.
Solar, hydro, wind, tidal and biomass are examples of renewable energy.
Solar energy is the energy radiated by the Sun in the form of light and heat. It is inexhaustible. Only a minuscule clean energy sources fraction of the available solar energy is used.
Energy can be turned into a usable form by using either solar heat or light (radiation).
We have written a number of articles on solar energy and solar panels. Click on the link below for more details.
Water can be channelled in such a way that its power is constant. Ie, water from a hose, down a stream, river, etc.
For centuries we have used water wheels to turn machinery. Using the same principle, water can be directed through a tunnel within which turbines are located. The power of the water is used to spin the turbine which in turn drives electricity generators.
New Zealand, China, Brazil, Canada and USA are major hydro generators using manmade dams across rivers to create storage lakes. Globally, around 19% of electricity is generated by hydro – in the USA it’s around 7%.
In countries like Australia where there have been recent droughts, there is some argument that although water is free and supplied by nature, it may not be as abundant as we would like. It is still, by definition a renewable resource.
The wind is the natural movement of air around the Earth caused by gravitational effects of the Earth turning, heat from the Sun and other factors such as the shape of the land. As the movement of air around the Earth is a continuous and arguably predictable, we can identify “windy” locations and capture wind energy to generate electricity.
A single modern wind turbine can produce the energy for several hundred homes, saving up to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Think of it as a turbine on a pole being turned by the pressure of the wind – its technically very simple, if unsightly!
Gravitational forces from the Sun and Moon cause ocean tidal movement. It is this movement along coastlines and river mouths which is can be harnessed to spin turbines connected to electricity generators. Large tidal movement is required to make tidal generation viable and the plant can only generate electricity for 4 – 5 hours for each tide.