What Are Renewable Energy Resources?
Renewable Energy Resources are the source of energy that is continuously regenerated by nature the sun, the wind, water, the Earth’s heat, and plants. Renewable energy technologies convert this energy into usable forms of energy most often electricity, but also heat, chemicals, or mechanical power.
There are different types of renewable energy resources – Hydropower Energy, Bio-energy, Geothermal Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Hydrogen, Ocean Energy.
Why Use Renewable Energy Resources?
Today we mainly utilize fossil fuels to heat and power our homes and fuel our cars. These energy sources are conventional and easily available to use coal, oil, and natural gas for meeting our energy needs, but we have a limited supply of these fuels on the Earth.
World using this energy much more rapidly than they are being created. Subsequently, their source will run out in the future. And considering state safety concerns and waste disposal problems, the United States will retire much of its nuclear capacity by 2020.
In the meantime, world energy needs are expected to grow by 33 percent during the next 20 years. Renewable energy is a natural source that can help fill the gap. But the fact is that even if we had an unlimited supply of fossil fuels, using renewable energy resources is better for the environment.
We often consider the renewable energy source as the “clean” or “green” because they produce few if any pollutants. Conventional fossil fuel burning, leads to greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping the sun’s heat and contributing to global warming.
Environmental researchers said admitted that the Earth’s average temperature has risen in the past century. If the world continued using this source in the future, it will sea levels will rise, and scientists predict that floods, heatwaves, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions could occur more often. Toxic pollutants are released into the air, soil, and water when fossil fuels are burned.
These pollutants have a harmful effect on the environment and on humans. The air pollutant leads to diseases like asthma. Polluted environmental rain of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides harms plants and fish. Nitrogen oxides also lead to smog. The use of renewable energy resources will also help us develop energy independence and security.
The United States imports its 50 % oil requirement. Restricting some of our conventional energy sources with fuels made from plant matter, for example, could save money and strengthen our energy security. Renewable energy resources is available in abundant, and the technologies are improving all the time. There are many activities where we can use renewable energy resources.
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Types of Renewable Energy Resources
Following are top renewable energy resources,
- Hydropower Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Solar Energy
- Wind Energy
- Ocean Energy
Hydropower is our most important and abundantly available renewable power, producing about 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. The United States has an existing hydropower capacity is about 103,000 megawatts (MW). Hydropower plant converts the energy of running water into electrical energy by using a turbine generator.
The most common way of generating hydroelectricity is by constructing the dam on a river to retain a large reservoir of water. This stored water released from the dam through turbine generators.
Hydropower plant’s energy production does not have any harmful gas emission but can affect water quality and wildlife habitats. Therefore, hydropower plants are now optimized and designed to operate to minimize impacts on the river.
Efforts are done to mimic the natural flow of the river, but while producing convenient conditions for the wildlife’s river habitat; it also reduces the power plant’s output. To help the process of fish migration a fish ladder and other approaches, such as improved turbines, are being used to lower the number of fish killed.
Bio-energy is the energy derived from biomass (organic matter), such as plants. If you’ve ever burned wood in a fireplace or campfire, you’ve used bioenergy. But fact is that we don’t get all of our biomass resources directly from trees or other plants. Many industries which are involved in the construction or the processing of agricultural products, can create large quantities of unused or residual biomass, which can serve as a bio-energy source.
After hydropower, biomass is this world’s second-leading resource of renewable energy, accounting for more than 7,000 MW of installed capacity. Some of the power generating companies found that coal power plants have found that replacing coal with biomass is a low-cost option to reduce undesirable emissions. It is around 15 percent of the coal may be replaced with biomass. Biomass has less sulfur than coal.
Additionally, utilizing the biomass in boilers can reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Gasification is another process in which the conversion of biomass converted into gas, which is burned in a gas turbine is another way to generate electricity.
Biomass composting in landfills generates methane, which can be burned in a boiler to produce steam for electricity generation or industrial processes. A type of fuel oil can be produced by heating the biomass in the absence of oxygen to chemically convert it into fuel oil, called Pyrolysis oil. Pyrolysis oil can be used for power generation and as a feedstock or fuels and chemical production.
Biomass can be used to produce liquid fuel, called biofuels. This biofuel is easy in transport and possesses high energy density; they are favored to fuel vehicles and sometimes stationary power generation. The most used biofuel is ethanol, an alcohol made from the fermentation of biomass high in carbohydrates.
The current largest source of ethanol is corn. Some of the world’s cities use ethanol as a gasoline additive to help meet air quality standards for ozone. Flex-fuel vehicles are also now on the market, which can use a mixture of gasoline and ethanol, such as E85 a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
Another biofuel is biodiesel, which can be made from vegetable and animal fats. Biodiesel has the capability to be used as fuel for a vehicle or as a fuel additive to reduce emissions. It is estimated that corn ethanol and biodiesel provide about 0.4 percent of the total liquid fuels market.
For increasing the availability of biofuel, researchers are testing crop residues such as cornstalk, food waste leave wood chips, grass, and even trash as potential biofuel sources.
iii) Bio-based Products
Natural agriculture products such as corn, wheat, soybeans, wood, and residues can also be used to produce chemicals and materials that we normally obtain from petroleum. Some of the manufacturers started to use cornstarch to produce commodity plastics, such as shrink-wrap, plastic eating utensils, and even car bumpers. Commercial production of biomass is underway to make thermoset plastics, like electrical switch plate covers, from wood residues.
3) Geothermal Energy
The Earth’s central core is about 4000 miles below and it can reach temperatures of 9000°F. These heat energies flow outward from the core, which can e surrounding area, which can form underground reservoirs of hot water and steam.
These reservoirs can be used for various purposes, such as to generate electricity or heat buildings. We can take advantage of the shallow ground’s stable temperature by using geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), for heating and cooling buildings.
This energy is available in uppermost 6 miles of the Earth’s crust amounts to 50,000 times the energy of all oil and gas resources in the world. In USA geothermal reservoirs are located in the western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. GHPs, however, can be used almost anywhere.
Geothermal Electricity Production
Geothermal power plants use the underground steam or water from wells drilled a mile or more into the earth. The steam or hot water is lifted from the well to drive a conventional steam turbine, which powers an electric generator.
Typically, utilized water is then returned to the ground to recharge the reservoir and complete the renewable energy resources cycle. The geothermal power plants had three types: dry steam, flash steam, and binary cycle. Dry steam plants utilize the steam, while both flash steam and binary cycle plants draw from reservoirs of hot water.
The United state all geothermal power plants are in California, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii having about 2800 MW of geothermal electric capacity is produced annually in this country.
Geothermal Direct Use
If you have ever jumped into a natural hot spring, you’re one of the millions of people around the world who have enjoyed the direct use of geothermal energy. For direct use application of energy, geothermal temperatures between about 70° to 302°F lower than those required for electricity generation.
The United States has about 1,300 geothermal direct-use systems in operation. In a system of direct to use a well is drilled into a geothermal reservoir, which provides a steady stream of hot water. Some systems use the water directly, but most pumps the water through what’s called a heat exchanger.
The heat exchanger keeps the water separate from a working fluid (usually water or a mixture of water and antifreeze), which is heated by the geothermal water. The working fluid then flows through piping, distributing them heat directly for its intended use.
The heated water or fluid can be used in a building to replace the traditional heat source often natural gas of a boiler, furnace, and hot water heater. Some cities of the United States have large direct use heating systems called district heating that provides many buildings with heat.
Direct use of geothermal energy can be used in agriculture such as for fish farms and to heat greenhouses and for industrial food processing (vegetable dehydration).
4) Solar Energy
Solar energy is the infinite power of the sun and uses that energy to produce heat, light, and power. People have used the sun to heat and light their homes for centuries as Passive Solar Lighting and Heating.
Ancient Americans construct their houses cliff walls directly into south-facing because they knew the sun travels low across the southern sky in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter. They also understand the fact that the massive rock of the cliff would absorb heat in winter and protect against wind and snow.
At the same time, the cliff dwelling house design restricts sunlight during the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky, keeping their dwellings cool. The new techniques of sun welcoming design are called passive solar because no pumps, fans, or other mechanical devices are used.
Its major utilization includes windows having large opening area in the south face that fill the home with natural sunlight, and dark tile or brick floors that store the sun’s heat and release it back into the home at night. In the summer, when solar heat is direct and intense window overhangs block direct sunlight, which keeps the house cool.
It makes the tile and brick floors also remain cool during the summer. If Passive solar design correlated with energy efficiency will go even further. This is the most promising renewable energy resources.
Solar Water Heating
Solar energy is capable to heat water for your home or your swimming pool. Most solar energy water systems consist of a solar collector and a water storage tank. The solar heating system of house use collectors, generally mounted on a south-facing roof, to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid, such as nontoxic antifreeze.
Water heated by solar heat is then stored in a water tank similar to the one used in a conventional gas or electric water heating system. There are generally three types of water collectors for water heating: flat plate, evacuated tube, and concentrating.
The most popular and efficient type of heat collectors is a flat-plate collector, which is an insulated, weatherproof box containing a dark absorber plate under a transparent cover. Evacuated- tube collectors are made up of transparent glass parallel tubes.
Each tube of the system made up of a glass outer and an inner tube, or absorber, covered with a coating that absorbs solar energy but inhibits heat loss. There are concentrating collector for domestic purpose and usually has the parabolic-shaped mirrors (like a trough) that concentrate the sun’s energy on an absorber tube called a receiver and it is passed through the mirrored axis and contains a heat-transfer fluid.
All of the heat transfer collector heat water by circulating household water or a heat-transfer fluid such as a non-toxic antifreeze from the collector to the water storage tanks. Collectors do this either passively or actively.
If you are using an electric water heater to heat water then solar water heating is a cost-effective alternative. If you have a small swimming pool in the house and you want to heat water then also solar collectors can also save you money.
By using a photovoltaic (PV) technology we can convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar power is the major source of energy for space vehicles since the inception of the space program. It has been also being utilized to power small electronics and rural and agricultural applications for three decades.
During the past decade, solar energy has emerged for powering urban grid-connected homes and buildings as a result of advances in solar technology along with global changes in electric industry restructuring.
Nowadays, various types of solar electric systems are available today, they all consist of basically three main items: modules that convert sunlight into electricity; inverters that convert that electricity into AC Current so it can be used by most household appliances; and possibly or sometimes batteries that store excess electricity produced by the system.
Solar electricity produced in remote locations is stored in batteries. These batteries store the electricity produced by a solar electric system for up to three days.
The selection of types of solar electrical system selection will depend on the energy efficiency of your home, your home’s location, and your budget? Before deciding the size of your system, try reducing energy demand through energy efficiency measures.
To reduce your energy consumption tries to purchase a smaller solar-electric system to meet your energy needs or get more value from a larger system.
Solar Thermal Electricity
As the solar electrical system directly converts the sun’s heat into electricity, whereas solar thermal electric systems convert the sun’s heat into electricity. This system of energy production from the sun is used in large scale power plants for powering cities and communities, especially in the Southwest where consistent hours of sunlight are greater than other parts of the United States. This important renewable energy resources for the future.
In this system, solar energy is converted into electricity by using mirrors to focus sunlight on to a component called receivers. These receivers catch the heat and transfer to conventional engine generator such as a steam turbine that generates electricity. There are mainly three types of concentrating solar power systems: power towers (central receivers), parabolic troughs, and dish/engine systems.
A power tower system uses a large field of skylights and walls. Some the solar power system uses traditional roof shingles, but they generate electricity, and some come with built-in inverters. The solar power system available today is more efficient and versatile than ever before.
In over 30 states, any additional power produced by a PV system, which is not being used by a home or building, can be beefed back to the electric grid through a process known as net metering.
This metering system allows the user to pay only for their “net” electricity, or the mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the top of a tower, where a receiver sits. The concentrated sunlight used to heat the molten salt flowing through the receiver. The heated molten salt is used to produce electricity by a conventional steam generator.
The oil-filled in the pipe is heated by concentrated sunlight. As this oil gets hot to a specific temperature is used to boil water in a conventional steam generator to produce electricity.
Sunlight concentrating systems can be used to generate electricity for a variety of applications, ranging from remote power systems as small as a few kilowatts (kW) up to grid-connected applications of 200 MW or more. The A354-MW power plant in Southern California, which consists of nine trough power plants, meets the energy needs of more than 350,000 people and is the world’s largest solar energy power plant.
5) Wind Energy
For hundreds of years, people have used windmills to harness the wind’s energy. Nowadays wind turbine technologies are a much more efficient technology. Wind turbine working principle is too simple that the wind spins turbine blades around a central hub; the hub is connected to a shaft, which powers a generator to make electricity. However, turbines of wind power generation have complicated design power systems that capture the wind’s energy by means of new blade designs or airfoils.
Wind turbines that provide electricity to the utility grid range in size from 50 kW to or 2 MW. Big wind energy system projects can have hundreds of turbines spread over many acres of land. The small capacity wind turbines of 50 kW power are used to charge batteries, electrify homes, pump water for farms and ranches, and power remote telecommunications equipment.
Wind power turbine systems can also be used in the shallow water near a coastline if open land is limited, such as in Europe, and/or to take advantage of strong, offshore winds. Wind power generation system has been the fastest-growing source of energy in the world since 1990, increasing at an average rate of over 25 percent per year. It’s a trend driven largely by dramatic improvements in wind technology.
According to the National Renewable Energy department of the United States has the potential for 10,459 GW of onshore wind power. The Unites state can generate 37 petawatt-hours (PW·h) annually, an amount nine times larger than current total U.S. electricity consumption.
The largest number of installed turbines is in California in the United States. Others are being installed across the Great Plains, reaching from Montana east to Minnesota and south through Texas, to take advantage of its vast wind resource.
Hydrogen is can produce high energy as it only produces water as emission. Hydrogen is available in abundant amount and also it’s simplest. An atom of hydrogen consists of only one proton and one electron. But as it is available in abundance and simplicity, it doesn’t occur naturally as a gas on the Earth.
Nowadays industries are producing more than 4 trillion cubic feet of hydrogen annually. Mainly the hydrogen is produced through a process called reforming, which involves the application of heat to separate hydrogen from carbon. The researcher laboratories are developing highly efficient, advanced reformers to produce hydrogen from natural gas for what’s called Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells.
Hydrogen energy allows you can think of fuel cells as batteries that never lose their charge. Recently developed hydrogen cells offer tremendous potential to produce electrical power for distributed energy systems and vehicles. There is a large possibility that hydrogen energy could join electricity as an important “energy carrier”: storing, moving, and delivering energy in a usable form to consumers.
Renewable energy resources, like sunlight, can’t produce energy at any time. But the hydrogen energy produced energy until it’s needed. Eventually, laboratories are concentrating on to produce hydrogen from water using solar, wind, and biomass and biological technologies.
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7) Ocean Energy
Ocean energy is one of the important renewable Energy resources. The ocean is capable of producing two types of energy thermal energy from the sun’s heat and mechanical energy from the tides and waves. Oceans’ thermal energy can be utilized for many applications, including electricity generation. Electricity generators use either the warm surface water or boil the seawater to turn a turbine, which activates a generator.
The electricity generation by use of both tidal and wave energy usually involves mechanical devices. Adam’s system is generally used to convert tidal energy into electricity by forcing the water through turbines, activating a generator.
Wave energy used to produce mechanical power to directly activate a generator or to transfer to a working fluid, water, or air, which then drives a turbine/generator. The majority of oven energy research and development has been happening in the European regions.
Renewable Energy by Country Ranking 2021
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