Where Is A Renewable Resource Found?

Renewable resources are naturally replenished materials or resources that can be harnessed for human use. They include sunlight, wind, water, geothermal heat, tides, and biomass. Renewable resources play a vital role in our world today for several reasons:

First, they provide sustainable energy sources that can meet our power needs while reducing dependence on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. This helps mitigate climate change and environmental harm caused by burning fossil fuels (https://avaada.com/advantages-and-importance-renewable-energy/).

Second, renewable energy promotes energy independence and security. Countries relying heavily on imported fossil fuels are vulnerable to price hikes and supply disruptions. Developing domestic renewable sources provides stability (https://energy5.com/the-benefits-of-renewable-energy-sources-for-a-more-sustainable-future).

Finally, renewable resources spur innovation and economic growth through new industries and jobs in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. They provide opportunities for rural and remote areas to participate in clean energy production.

In summary, renewable resources are critical for meeting energy needs sustainably, reducing environmental damage, increasing energy security, and driving economic growth.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is found by harnessing energy from the sun and converting it into electricity. Solar cells, known as photovoltaic cells, are able to convert sunlight directly into electrical energy through the photovoltaic effect. These cells are usually made from silicon and are grouped together on solar panels. When sunlight hits these solar panels, electrons are knocked loose and flow from the positive side to the negative side, creating an electrical current that can then be used as electricity. This conversion from light to electricity takes place silently and instantly. The solar panels can then be installed on rooftops or ground-mounted to collect as much sunlight as possible (1).

solar panels convert sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic cells.

Some key advantages of solar energy are that it is renewable, abundant, and sustainable. The sun provides an unlimited supply of solar energy that is free and does not produce greenhouse gases or toxic waste. Solar energy is also low maintenance and has become more affordable in recent years. Most of the solar panels being installed today are expected to last 25-30 years with minimal upkeep. The main limitations are that solar is intermittent – it only produces energy when the sun is shining. Battery storage and grid integration help to mitigate this challenge. Overall, solar energy is one of our cleanest and most promising renewable energy sources.

(1) https://www.certainteed.com/inspiration/how-tos/solar-101-how-solar-energy-works-step-step

Wind Energy

One of the most common renewable energy sources is wind energy. Wind energy is found in the form of wind, and it is captured using wind turbines (References). Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy of wind into mechanical power, which is then converted into electricity. Some key facts about wind energy:

  • Wind is generated by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface by the sun. The wind blows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure (References).
  • Good wind energy sites are often located on hilltops, open plains, and mountain gaps where wind speeds are greater (References).
  • The most common type of wind turbine has two or three propeller-like blades mounted on a shaft to form a rotor. The rotor is connected to a generator, either directly or through a gearbox (References).

Overall, wind power is considered a renewable energy source because it relies on the wind, which is continuously replenished through natural processes. Though the wind itself may be intermittent, wind energy offers a sustainable way to generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.

References:
https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/articles/top-10-things-you-didnt-know-about-wind-power
https://www.enelgreenpower.com/learning-hub/renewable-energies/wind-energy/faq-wind-energy-usa

Hydropower

Hydropower is a renewable energy resource found by using flowing water to spin turbines connected to generators. The kinetic energy of flowing water spins the turbine blades, which then spins a shaft connected to a generator to produce electricity. Hydropower is considered a renewable energy source because it relies on the water cycle, in which water evaporates, forms clouds, precipitates, and flows back down to the ocean (Hydropower Status report 2017). As long as the water cycle continues, hydropower will be available.

Hydropower plants can use man-made dams and reservoirs or natural waterfalls and rivers to harness energy. Large hydropower plants typically utilize dams and reservoirs to control water flow. The dam stores river water in the reservoir, releasing it to spin turbines in the power station when electricity is needed. Small hydropower plants can use run-of-river systems, diverting a portion of a river through a canal to turbines. This allows generating electricity without needing to dam large rivers.

According to the 2016 Hydropower Status Report, hydropower accounted for over 16% of total global electricity generation. With the water cycle continually renewing water supplies, hydropower can provide reliable baseload power to electric grids with minimal environmental impact compared to fossil fuels. While droughts can temporarily reduce output, hydropower produces no direct air pollution or carbon emissions while operating.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is found by tapping into underground reservoirs of steam or hot water. The Earth’s core contains a huge amount of thermal energy, some of which escapes to the surface through geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and other hydrothermal features. This geothermal energy can be harnessed in a few different ways.

One option is to drill wells into underground reservoirs to pump hot water or steam to the surface. The steam can be used to turn turbines and generate electricity, while the hot water can be used directly for heating purposes. Good locations for geothermal power plants are areas with high subsurface temperatures near tectonic plate boundaries, volcanic regions, and hot spots under the Earth’s crust. The countries currently generating the most electricity from geothermal sources are the United States, Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, and New Zealand (LinkedIn).

Another approach is using geothermal heat pumps to tap into shallower underground temperatures. Heat pumps can transfer heat between the ground and buildings for space heating and cooling. The ground maintains a relatively stable temperature below the frost line, so geothermal heat pumps can be highly efficient (YouTube). Geothermal heat pumps are used worldwide, especially in the U.S., China, Sweden, Germany, and France.

The benefits of geothermal energy include its renewable, sustainable nature and low carbon emissions. Geothermal power plants also have reliable capacity factors of 90-95%. However, high upfront drilling costs can make geothermal expensive. There are also concerns around induced seismicity from fracking the subterranean rock. Overall, geothermal energy is a promising renewable resource found within the Earth itself.

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is found by harnessing energy from plant and animal waste and is a form of renewable energy. It is derived from recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts. Common bioenergy sources include wood, manure, and crops like corn and sugarcane. These biomass feedstocks can be converted into useful energy carriers like biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biodiesel) and biogas through various processes. According to one source, “The various biofuel and bioenergy production methods via thermochemical conversion have been compared and their pros and cons are provided” (https://www.aimspress.com/article/id/62ba9037ba35de1551497168). Bioenergy helps provide energy security in many countries and reduces dependence on fossil fuels. Overall, bioenergy is an important renewable resource found globally that supports sustainable development.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen can be used as a renewable energy source when produced through electrolysis powered by electricity from renewable sources like solar or wind. Water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen gases in an electrolyzer, generating hydrogen gas that can then be stored and used to produce electricity in a fuel cell. According to the article from The Star, hydrogen offers an efficient way to store renewable energy and provides a clean fuel source, however there are barriers like high costs of production that need to be addressed.

As explained in the Mining.com article, the growing use of hydrogen as a renewable resource could increase demand for platinum, a catalyst used in hydrogen fuel cells. The article notes that hydrogen’s versatility and potential as an emissions-free energy carrier make it an important renewable energy source going forward.

Wave & Tidal

Wave and tidal energy are found by harnessing energy from ocean waves and tides. The kinetic energy of waves and the potential energy of tides can be converted into electricity using various technologies.

Wave energy converters like point absorbers, oscillating water columns, and overtopping devices use the rise and fall of waves to drive electromechanical equipment. Tidal turbines underwater capture tidal currents and the kinetic energy turns turbines much like wind turbines on land. Tidal barrages are dams that capture potential tidal energy created by the difference between high and low tides.

According to one source, wave and tidal energy could potentially provide up to 337 GW of electricity globally, with high potential areas located off the coasts of Europe, North America, South America, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand (Thresher, 2010). However, the technology is still emerging with few commercial-scale projects in operation.

Key benefits of harnessing wave and tidal energy are its predictability and reliability compared to other renewables like solar and wind. It also does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are challenges around device durability in harsh ocean environments and potential impacts on marine ecosystems that still need to be studied.

Overall, wave and tidal energy from the world’s oceans remain an underutilized renewable resource with significant potential to help nations achieve energy diversification, grid stability and decarbonization goals.

Comparison of Renewable Energy Sources

When comparing renewable energy sources, each has its own advantages and disadvantages that should be considered (Comparing Renewable Energy Sources).

Solar power is readily available in sunny areas and photovoltaic panels have become much more efficient and affordable. However, solar only generates energy during daylight hours and requires storage or supplemental power at night (Thompson).

Wind power takes advantage of kinetic energy in moving air, but optimal wind farm locations may be far from populated areas. Wind strength also varies seasonally (Comparing Renewable Energy Sources).

Hydropower relies on flowing water, but droughts can reduce output. Dams and diversions also impact fish migration and river ecosystems.

Geothermal taps into underground heat but is limited to areas with adequate geologic resources.

Bioenergy utilizes plant or animal waste as fuel but competes for land with food production.

Overall, utilizing a mix of complementary renewable sources can overcome limitations of any single technology. Location, climate, environmental impacts and energy storage should all factor into selecting suitable clean power options.

Conclusion: Renewable Resources Have a Bright Future

In summary, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal, wave, tidal and hydrogen offer a promising alternative to fossil fuels. As the costs of renewable technologies continue to decline and efficiency improves, renewable energy production is expected to grow substantially in the coming decades.

Most projections estimate renewable energy will provide over 50% of global electricity by 2050. Key factors driving this growth include favorable government policies, corporate investments, technological advances and falling costs. While fossil fuels still dominate today, renewables are expected to overtake them as the world’s primary energy source within a few decades.

The transition to renewable energy is critical to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Widespread adoption of renewables will also improve public health by reducing air pollution from fossil fuel combustion. Although there are still challenges like intermittency and storage, the future looks bright for renewable resources to play a major role in our energy system.

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