09 November 2013

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is an infinite energy source.  Essentially, power can be produced over and over and never runs out, and is usually harnessed from the many forces of nature.

Below are eight types of renewable energy sources available, as well as a brief explanation of how they generate power.

Wind
Wind turbines turn kinetic energy from the wind into an electric current.

Solar
This is where sunlight is captured through solar panels and converted into electricity.

Tidal
The movement of tides generate turbines which in turn generates energy. This is probably one of the most reliable renewable energy sources compared to wind and solar.

Wave
Wave energy captures the force of wind generated by waves.

Hydrological/hydroelectric
This is energy harnessed from the movement of water in rivers, lakes and Dams.

Geothermal
This uses the natural heat of the earth in volcanic regions.  Water is pumped underground which is then converted into steam.

Biomass
This is organic material which can be burned and used as energy. Examples of this include rapeseed which is converted into oil, then after treatment can be used as fuel in diesel engines.  This energy type is sustainable if crops are replanted.   

Wood
Trees are cultivated and chopped down and burned to generate heat and light.  This is deemed as renewable if trees are replaced, although this energy source is not very environmentally friendly as burning of wood emits Co2 which contributes towards global warming, unless trees are replanted to absorb the harmful gases emitted.

How can I make a difference?

With the rise of fuel and utility costs and the threat of global warming evermore in the spotlight, renewable energy is fast becoming the cheaper and cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuel sources such as oil and gas. 

If you are considering renewable energy in order to reduce your heating bills and to decrease your carbonfootprint, there are many options available for homes and businesses, including:-

Biomass boilers These use wood as a fuel source.  As long as the wood is from a sustainable source, these are very environmentally friendly as newly replanted trees absorb carbon dioxide which is released from burning wood.  The government set up a scheme called ‘Renewable Heat Incentive’ which pays for every kWh of heat produced by a biomass boiler.

Air source heat pumps These absorb heat from the outside air which can then be used to heat water and radiators.  These devices can extract heat from the air, even if the temperature is as low as -15c!

  
Solar Panels - So far, 450,000households in the UK have solar panels installed, making it one of the most popular choices for renewable energy.  Solar panels capture the suns energy which is then converted to electricity.  Since solar power is a green energy, it doesn’t release any harmful toxins into the atmosphere and is very reliable, providing you have a south facing roof on your home in order to capture the maximum amount of light.

Solar thermal heating systems - Unlike solar panels which capture the light, solar thermal heating systems uses the heat from the sun to heat water in domestic and commercial premises.  The performance of these devices depends on climate, so if there is a cold weather, the extraction of heat from the sun may be impeded.

These are just some of the ways that householders and business owners can help the environment and save money, however simple changes such as watching your energy consumption and being mindful about the products that you buy, will mean you are making a difference for your finances and the planet.



This is a guest post provided for www.riablahgs.com's readers.

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