Ever wondered what exactly is renewable energy and what are the top renewable energy sources available to us today? Renewable energy, as the name suggests, is a form of green energy that’s not detrimental to the environment. They are a part and parcel of our planet’s physical structure and can be found in the sunlight, air, oceans, and underground. Also known as “sustainable energy”, they are naturally replenished and serve as the best alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil. However, a fact to keep in mind here is that energy sources that are renewable are not always environmentally safe. For instance, harnessing hydro energy by building dams affects the ecosystem for fishes and wildlife. Another example of this is the use of wind to generate energy by building windmills, which also has a detrimental effect on the local ecosystem and wind streams.
Despite the strides we’ve made in discovering new renewable energy sources and harnessing the energy generated from such sources, many countries are still not using renewable energy. Wonder why? Renewable energy is still pretty expensive compared to conventional energy. And since favorable renewable energy sources are mostly present in remote locations, a lot of money must be invested in building an appropriate infrastructure. Despite such challenges, most governments are investing in discovering new renewable energy sources and are offering attractive tax benefits to encourage investments. That being said, now let’s take a look at some of the energy sources that can be leveraged to help our world to go green:
Top Renewable Energy Sources
Sunlight is perhaps one of the most famous sources available today and its energy can be harnessed by using technologies that can leverage solar energy to illuminate houses or street lamps, warm or cool water, or power cooling systems for businesses. Solar energy, which can be harnessed with the help of photovoltaic systems, can benefit corporates and government bodies alike.
This form of energy is derived from deep underground and the heat generated can be used to produce electricity. Such renewable energy sources can be implemented on a smaller scale or a large scale, depending on their end goal. On a small scale, geothermal energy can be used to keep nearby buildings warm or cool. On a large scale, it can be used as a commercial utility energy solution.
One of the new energy sources, bioenergy, is derived from biomass and can be used to generate liquid fuels, electricity, and heat. Though it generates carbon dioxide, the replacement plants that are grown help neutralize the levels of carbon dioxide. Businesses and government bodies can use this form of energy to power their fleets. Manufacturing firms can also use such renewable energy sources to generate electricity by burning the biomass directly and capturing the steam.
Wind is perhaps one of the most popular sources of energy available today. Extensive R&D on new technologies to harness wind energy has resulted in the availability of commercial-grade systems, utility-scale systems, and single-wind turbines, which can be used to supplement existing systems. The power generated by wind farms can be purchased on the wholesale energy market.
Hydropower is perhaps one of the oldest energy sources known to mankind. Traditionally, the kinetic energy from water bodies was collected with the help of waterwheels, but today, dams are being constructed to store the water and generate electricity through turbines.
To know more about the types of renewable energy sources and their applications: