What is Renewable Energy?

If you’ve often heard of renewable energy but don’t truly understand what it is, then this is for you. This PowerVersity guide explains the concept; what is renewable energy.

Hence, at the end of reading this blog post, you’ll understand what it is, why it is important, the various types, its advantages, and disadvantages.

Read through to find all the hidden secrets you need to know about renewable energy.

Expand “Browse Post Topics” below to go straight to a topic.

First, What is Renewable Energy?

what is Renewable Energy
pixabay

Renewable energy – energy that is derived from natural sources and elements. For instance, sunlight, wind, water, and so on.

Since it is easily replenishable, this type of energy is referred to as renewable energy. The sources of this type of energy are easily preserved and never exhausted.

Most times, it is often classified as “clean” or “green” energy. Though, they are often understood to mean the same thing and used interchangeably.

However, there’s a slight difference between clean and green energy.

To fully understand the concept; renewable, clean, and green energy, there’s the need to consider each term individually and explain how they’re all related.

Hence, let’s consider the explanation of these key terms.

Key Terms Explained

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Energy

The energy in this context is somewhat related to the general understanding of energy, which is the physical ability or strength to handle physical activities.

It is, however, referred to as a mechanical force that drives the functions of mechanical or electrical equipment. Hence, when we say energy, we refer to mechanical energy.

This type of energy includes gasoline, which is used to power automobiles, and diesel, which is used to power most large industrial machinery.

Renewable Energy

This is a form of energy that comes from renewable sources. The sources of this energy include the sun, water, wind, etc.

All these sources are natural elements that do not diminish or run out over time but are constantly being replenished by nature. Hence, the reason this form of energy is called renewable energy.

Clean Energy

This is the type of energy that, when consumed, does not emit poisonous compounds or pollute the atmosphere.

When other traditional sources of energy, such as coal, gas, and oil, are used, poisonous chemicals are released into the atmosphere.

These toxic substances pollute the environment and are quite hazardous to the environment and people generally.

However, clean energy – such as solar, wind, hydropower, nuclear energy, and so on, does not release toxins into the environment.

Green Energy

This is the kind of energy that comes from natural sources such as the sun, wind, and water. Hence, the bulk of green energy sources are renewable.

These three sources of energy are related. They all apply to sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases.

Moreover, they do not pollute the atmosphere like other traditional forms of energy like coal, gas, or oil.

Clean energy, on the other hand, is carbon-free and not always replenishable, whereas green energy is a subset of renewable energy and is naturally replenishable.

Green energy is classified as energy derived from natural sources. Clean energy is defined as energy that does not pollute the air, and renewable energy is defined as energy derived from renewable sources.

We now know what green energy is. We’ve also discussed the distinction between clean energy and green energy.

Also, the difference between clean energy and renewable energy has been detailed. It’s time to consider why it is important.

Why is Renewable Energy Important?

Renewable energy is an important concept in today’s world due to the impact of greenhouse gases on our environment.

Greenhouse gas is the end product of conventional forms of energy/fossil-fuels such as gas, petroleum, oil, wood, etc.

The production and consumption of these conventional sources of energy negatively impact the environment generally. Even more, these conventional forms of energy are not sustainable; they can easily run out.

Coal mining, gas extraction, operating vehicles, using diesel to fuel planes and generators, deforestation, and other activities all lead to further deterioration of our climate. These cause negative climate change and increase our exposure to global warming.

For these reasons mentioned above, renewable energy is important. Its production and use are important to reduce the negative impact of these conventional forms of energy on our environment.

Overall, this is needed to provide a more dependable energy source while reducing our risks/exposure to environmental hazards and disasters.

There are different types of renewable energy, let’s examine what they are.

Types of Renewable Energy

Solar Energy

Solar Energy
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This type of renewable energy is derived from the sun. The sun is one of the most accessible natural resources available to humans.

This is a very sustainable source of energy as the sun does not run out. Its availability is only affected by times, seasons, and weather conditions.

This kind of energy is called solar power. It is accessible through the use of solar power systems such as solar panels.

Wind Energy

Wind Renewable Energy
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This is another inexhaustible source of energy. This kind of renewable energy is accessible through the use of wind turbines. A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into electrical energy.

Hence, as long as there is enough wind to power the generator, there will be access to electricity

Hydro Energy

Hydro Energy Renewable

The source of this energy is water. To gain access to this form of renewable energy, massive dams or reservoirs are built to regulate the flow of water, thus powering a turbine that generates electricity.

This is the kind of energy used to supply energy by most public supply energy/electricity companies.

Ocean/Tidal Energy

Tidal Renewable Energy
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The source of this energy is also water. However, this is not controlled by the use of dams or reservoirs. The control of this form of renewable energy is highly based on ocean waves, ebbs, and flows.

Ocean/tidal energy is accessible through the use of turbines or paddles. The turbines generate electricity using the natural rise and fall of ocean tides and currents.

The turbines are connected to a generator which produces electricity.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Renewable Energy
image: pixabay

The source of this energy is the heat beneath the earth. Wells will be drilled 1 to 2 miles deep into the soil in a geothermal energy project to pump steam or hot water into the atmosphere in order to produce electricity using this form of renewable energy.

The steam generated in this process spins a turbine connected to a generator to produce electrical energy/electricity.

Biomass Energy

Image from Pixabay

This is the energy that comes from organic natural sources, such as plants and other living things.

Plants such as trees, vegetables, animal manure, and human waste products are examples of sources of this type of energy.

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Benefits of Renewable Energy

It Ensures a Sustainable Energy Supply:

Renewable energy sources such as wind, sun, water, biomass, heat, and so on are all-natural. It is unlikely they will run out.

It Improves Environmental and Public Health: Unlike other conventional energy sources, renewable energy produces fewer greenhouse gases that pollute the air and atmosphere.

Hence, increasing its use will boost the environment’s clean air.

Similarly, oil and gas pipeline leaks – that pollute the air and water can be significantly minimized by using renewable energy. Therefore, improve public and environmental health.

Renewable Energy is Cost-Effective: It is cost-effective in the long term due to its reduced maintenance and operating costs.

The sources – such as the sun, wind, and biomass, are naturally replenished. Hence, you don’t have to incur extra expenses to replenish or refuel them.

While there are numerous advantages, it has its drawbacks and they include;

Disadvantages of Renewable Energy

High Setup Cost: While using renewable energy saves money, setting up a renewable energy supply system is usually costly.

This is due to the high level of technology needed to store and operate this supply of electricity.

Geographic Limitations: Certain geographical areas are more suited to renewable energy and the technology used to process it than others.

For instance, a wind turbine system will work efficiently in locations with enough open spaces/fields than in a location with closed spaces.

Overall, while renewable energy has some disadvantages, the benefits exceed the effects. It is becoming increasingly important in the energy and power sectors in most parts of the world.

Indeed, “the United States Energy Information Administration expects that U.S. renewable energy demand will continue to rise through 2050.”

I hope you found this PowerVersity guide helpful?

If you found it helpful, kindly share your thoughts with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.

Finally, to read more guides like this, visit our Electricity & Renewables page.

Victor Akin-Ojo
Victor Akin-Ojo is the founder and the Lead Editor of PowerVersity.com. Before he started PowerVersity.com, Victor worked in the IT industry for close to 15 years. He worked mainly as field Engineer on Installation of VSAT, Wimax Technologies, including but not limited to, Power Maintenance Sector for close to 10 years – Designing an electrical installation for Homes, Private and Government Offices and more.

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