What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is a term we’ve heard being tossed about a lot lately, and there’s been a great amount of excitement over the development of new types. But what is renewable energy or what is alternative energy? The answer is contained in the description itself. Renewable energy is quite simply energy from a source that can be renewed easily. While it’s certainly possible over extended periods of time for new sources of oil and coal to come about, it’s not going to happen on a reasonable timeline.
To expound on the answer to the question ‘What is renewable energy?‘, it is energy coming from sources that will eventually run out or will be hard to replenish over our lifetime. Most non-renewable energy sources are fossil fuels which include coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
What is renewable energy and where do they come from? Renewable energy comes from sources that can be easily renewed within a single lifetime, or comes from a source that is effectively limitless, as is the case in two of its most popular forms. Some forms of renewable energy are available no matter where in the world you are, others require certain environmental conditions or resources that may not be available everywhere.
What are the Types of Renewable Energy?
- Hydroelectric Power – Power generated by capturing the force of moving water.
- Wind Power – Power generated by taking advantage of natural wind patterns.
- Solar Power – Power generated by capturing and converting solar energy.
This is one of the most popular sources of power throughout the world and especially in the United States. This source of power has been around since the first time someone built a paddle wheel in a flowing river, letting the natural force of the moving water turn the wheel and converting it into work. More recently massive hydroelectric dams have been built, blocking rivers and creating huge reservoirs of water which are released in controlled ways through the dam, turning the turbines contained within to generate electric power. Hydroelectric power is one of the answers to the question ‘What is renewable energy?’
Wind Power is one of the newest answers to ‘What is renewable energy and what types have we not found a way to use yet?’ Wind power has been around for a great while, the earliest well-known use being in windmills. Windmills are a commonly seen feature in the Netherlands, a country that is well known for it’s historic use of this source of power. This source of power was used all over Europe to power mills for purposes such as grinding wheat into flour, but in recent days it’s seen a resurgence as a way to generate a nearly unending source of electricity. All over the world there have been giant crops of massive windmills that have been put up to capture the naturally occurring motion of the wind to turn them and the attached turbines. In those areas with large amounts of wind, this serves to handily supplement other sources of electricity, but it isn’t as reliable as hydroelectric power.
Solar Power is perhaps the most definitive answer to ‘What is renewable energy?‘. Solar power is one of the largest growing forms of renewable energy, being available anywhere you can capture sunshine, and with increasingly efficient technology making it more and more reliable. But why is solar energy renewable you may ask? Solar energy most commonly incorporates solar panels that capture the suns rays and converting it directly into electricity. This isn’t the only way the sun is used to generate power, in those areas with large amounts of electricity, such as deserts, the sun is captured in mirrors, and reflected onto a tower which contains molten salt. Molten salt is excellent at capturing and holding heat, and this heat is then used to power steam turbines which turn and generate power in a way similar to coal and nuclear power plants. These are three of the most common answers to ‘What is renewable energy?’, and renewable energy is becoming one of the most important industries in the world today. We know that we will eventually run out of fossil fuels. And with growing restrictions on emissions and greenhouse gasses, the use of fossil fuels is being penalized more and more each day.
I hope this article has shed some light on the definition of renewable energy and the sources of renewable energy.