Renewable energy is energy obtained from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, biomass and geothermal heat. These energy sources are constantly replenished by nature. Energy produced from Solar, Wind, Hydro, Geothermal, Biomass and Tidal waves are examples of renewable energy.
ADVANTAGES of Renewable Energy
The biggest advantage of renewable energy is that they are renewable and are never going to be depleted in a forseeable future. Unlike fossil fuel, which has limited stockpile or a fixed quantity on our planet, renewable energy sources are limitless and will never run out.
Since the source of renewable energy is nature, renewable energy production requires less maintenance on their plants than traditional generators. Besides, cost of operation, there is minimal cost of transportation of fuel as these plants use natural elements where they are available rather than transport it from somewhere.
NO TOXIC WASTE
Renewable energy is clean energy, as it does not pollute the air. Renewable energy production has very little or no waste products such as carbon dioxide or other chemical pollutants, so has minimal impact on the environment. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy does not produce any greenhouse gases or contribute to global warming.
Most of the Renewable energy projects are located away from urban areas and are located in small villages, mountains, barren lands or far from shores. As a result, they benefit rural and economically backward areas.
DISADVANTAGES of Renewable Energy
DIFFICULTY TO PRODUCE IN LARGE QUANTITIES
One disadvantage with renewable energy is that it is difficult to generate the quantities of electricity that are as large as those produced by traditional fossil fuel generators.
Renewable energy sources have some reliability issues. Renewable energy often relies on the weather for its source of power. Hydro generators need rain to fill dams to supply flowing water. Wind turbines need wind to turn the blades, and solar collectors need clear skies and sunshine to collect heat and make electricity. When these resources are unavailable so is the capacity to make energy from them. This can be unpredictable and inconsistent.
HIGHER COST OF PRODUCTION
Since they are also new technologies, the cost of initiating them is high. The current cost of renewable energy technology is also far in excess of traditional fossil fuel generation. This is because it is a new technology and as such has extremely large capital cost.
RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES IN DETAIL & THEIR PROS AND CONS
Solar energy makes use of the sun’s energy. It is advantageous because the systems can fit into existing buildings and it does not affect land use. But since the area of the collectors is large, more materials are required. Solar radiation is also controlled by geography. And it is limited to daytime hours and non-cloudy days.
Wind energy uses the power of the wind to produce electricity. Although it is the largest job producer, it is reliant on strong winds. Wind turbines are large and, although you can use the area under them for farming, many consider them unattractive looking. They are also very noisy to operate. In addition, they threaten the wild bird population.
Hydroelectric energy uses water to produce power. This is the most reliable of all the renewable energy sources. On the down side, it affects ecology and causes downstream problems. The decay of vegetation along the riverbed can cause the buildup of methane. Methane is a contributing gas to greenhouse effect. Dams can also alter the natural river flow and affect wildlife. Colder, oxygen poor water can be released into the river, killing fish. And the release of water from the dam can cause flooding.
Geothermal energy uses steam from the Earth’s ground to generate power. It uses smaller land areas than other power plants. They can run 24 hours per day, every day of the year. Disadvantages are that it is very site specific and, along with the heat from the Earth, it can also bring up toxic chemicals when obtaining the steam. Drilling geothermal reservoirs and finding them can be an expensive task.
Biomass energy is produced through the energies from wood, agricultural and municipal waste. It helps save on landfill waste but transportation can be expensive and ecological diversity of land may be affected. In addition, its process needs to be made simpler.
Ocean energy is a clean and abundant energy form. It does, however, have high costs. Ocean thermal energy also requires close to a forty degree Fahrenheit difference in water temperature year round. In addition, construction and laying pipes can cause damage to the ecosystem.