Renewable energy is becoming increasingly popular as society shifts towards a more environmentally friendly approach to energy production. This allows new developments to be sustainable into the future as they will not deplete resources faster than these resources can replenish. Renewable energy doesn’t just have an impact on the sustainability of our global resource pool, but has been attributed to improvements in health due to lower pollution levels, and reduction in unemployment, due to new energy production facilities and service companies.
Solar energy is currently one of the leading renewable energy methods employed to meet our energy consumption needs. In the past there has been concern over the efficiency of solar panels as they would typically only convert around 16% of the solar energy absorbed into electricity. However, new advances in the technology continue to increase the conversion rate. Solar power has the following considerations:
● Wildlife – Solar panels are typically non-invasive, especially the solar panel kits that can be placed on the roof of a private residence. There have been reports of animals succumbing to extreme heat at large scale solar power facilities.
● Greenhouse gases: Emissions of these gases are nearly eliminated. The only source of greenhouse gases attributable to solar panels are the direct inputs derived from production of the panels and the transportation and implementation of the facilities.
● Sale of excess energy: Consumers can reap extra benefits by selling electricity back into the power grid when their personal panels are generating more electricity than they are consuming.
● Unreliability: Power can only be actively generated when the sun is shining. Therefore cloud cover and night time do not allow for energy generation. Currently there are no effective methods to store the massive amounts of energy which is produced by the panels.
Electric power generation is the second fastest growing form of renewable energy, behind solar. Electricity is generated by means of a turbine being driven by the wind. These turbines are placed in areas known as wind farms. Some considerations of wind power:
● Environmental impact: Wind power can have an impact on wildlife. Many birds are killed each year because they fly into these wind turbines.
● Strategic placement: Placing a wind turbine in an area where there is no wind will not generate any power. Placement of the wind turbines need to be in areas of high wind concentration, which is typically offshore. This can be expensive to implement.
● Long term potential: there is a great potential long term for wind power to be effective and efficient creating 40 times the current electricity demand. The current upfront costs are high but the payoff in the long run will be great if implemented properly.
Biomass is energy created from living or recently living organisms in the ecosystem. This can refer to plant derived materials, which are specifically called lignocellulosic biomass. Biomass can be used directly, by burning it to produce heat and different forms of biofuel. Things to consider about biofuel include:
• Biomasses can be converted into other usable forms of energy, such as transportation fuels like ethanol.
• There is a large source of organisms that can be used for biofuel production. The inputs are plentiful which would create a renewable resource for producing energy.
• It’s on the cutting edge. There is currently a lot of research going into this form of energy production. Algae is a potential for biofuel production as it can be fermented into ethanol, butanol as well as some specific biofuels as well as hydrogen.
While there are many other types of renewable energy out there, including: hydropower and geothermal energy production these three are constantly growing in their respective fields and scientists are able to make progress on the increase in renewable energy in the world. For our world to become sustainable in the long run many resources will need to be poured into the pursuit of these type of energy. Our globe is running out of ways to produce energy and without finding new ways to create and power renewable energy, resulting in a slowdown of the use of non-renewable energy our world will not be able to keep functioning at the rate it currently is.