Renewable Sources of Energy, Types of Renewable Sources of Energy
Essay on Renewable Sources of Energy: Can we imagine life without electricity, transport facilities, and cooking gas? All these have become absolute necessities. Behind these, we have fossil fuels: the one common factor that could send us back to caveman life.
So, what are fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels include coal, petroleum products, tar sands, bitumen, natural gas, etc. Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago and it takes a very long time to replenish these resources. They were formed when dead plants, animals, and other carbon-containing microorganisms got buried deep under the Earth’s crust and were decomposed under non-aerobic conditions. As they got pushed under the Earth’s surface, they were subjected to heat and high pressure and were transformed as fuels like natural gas, and crude oil. Fossil fuels are a rich source of energy and can be used immediately to get convenient forms of energy like heat and light.
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We know that on our planet Earth, Sun is the source of all energy. The plants and certain microbes have the ability to utilize the Sun’s energy through the process of photosynthesis.
Thus, it is Sun’s energy that is stored in the plants and get transferred to animals when they consume plants as food. Now, fossil fuels are primarily derived from living organisms that don’t decay due to the absence of air.
So, all the energy in them gets retained and concentrated as they get compressed. Thus, fossil fuels are a rich source of energy.
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The downside with fossil fuels is that they are limited and cannot be formed within a human’s lifetime. Moreover, we are not completely aware of the level of heat and pressure they were exposed to.
The first commercial oil well came into existence only in the eighteenth century. But since then, we humans have exploited the energy-rich fuels. It has turned the fortunes of nations within a short span of time. Today eighty percent of our energy needs are met by fossil fuels only.
Though we continue to discover more resources, they are limited, and we cannot be dependent on them forever. Another major drawback of fossil fuels is the release of carbon dioxide upon their combustion. This carbon dioxide is the main contributing factor to global warming.
Therefore, we need to look for alternative sources of energy in order to combat global warming and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
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Renewable sources of energy
It might be surprising to know that resources such as solar power, wind, and water were utilized for human energy needs much earlier than fossil fuels were brought to use. In fact, sunlight was utilized first to make fire. Windmills and watermills were present in the days of kings and kingdoms. Until the middle of the 18th century, only renewable resources were available. They are known as renewable as they are present naturally on our planet and are inexhaustible when compared to fossil fuels.
Why the shift to renewable resources?
After 1950, with the concept of oil peaks, began a new drive towards renewable. Today carbon emissions, intolerable pollution levels, global warming, climate change, and energy security are related factors that are pushing us towards a cleaner and sustainable sources of energy.
Unstable situations in oil-rich nations of the Middle East, tensions between Russia and the West have increased the rates of fossil fuels. Fluctuations in the price of oil affect the economy of energy-dependent countries.
Therefore, renewable resources are not only clean and environment-friendly but are a must for the progress and economic stability of the country.
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Types of Renewable energy:
1. Solar Energy
The Sun is the main source of life on Earth. As early as the 2nd Century B.C., the Greeks and Romans had used mirrors to focus the Sun’s rays and lit torches and set fires. Solar cookers were invented in the middle of the 17th century and solar-powered engines came into existence in the 1860s.
Albert Einstein got a Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect, which explained the emission of electrons when light falls on the surface material. By the 1950s photovoltaic cells were developed and solar-powered buildings came into existence.
Solar cells have been regularly used for powering satellites. Solar-powered cars are also in the experimental stage. Now in India, we have solar parks and farms owned by both public and private companies. We have a total installed capacity of 29.55 GW of solar energy as of 30th June 2019.
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2. Water Power
Ancient Persians and Chinese used water wheels for grinding flour, irrigation, and for sawing timber and stone. Today we have hydroelectric power plants across the world and utilize the force of water to produce electricity.
We also have tapped the potential of tidal waves to produce electricity from tides in oceans, rivers, and human-made canal systems. We can install tidal energy converters at locations with fast currents of water.
3. Wind Energy
Wind energy was first used to propel boats. By the 11th century, windmills were used for making flour in the Middle East region. During the 17th century, the Dutch developed large windmills to drain water from lakes canals. As per March 2019 data, the total wind power capacity was about 36.625 GW. Germany is the highest wind power producer and India comes fourth in the list.
4. Biomass Energy
We know that fossil fuels were formed out of biotic materials. Similarly, we can utilize the plant wastes, manure, and even animal dung to make fuel.
The fuel so obtained is known as biofuel. Another way is to directly process raw materials from plants, and process them to form fuel.
It has been successfully deployed in coming up with fuels like CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and ethanol. We also have other forms of renewable energy such as Geothermal, Hydrogen energy, and Ocean Energy.
As of now, these resources do not contribute much and are highly location-specific. But still, we need to harness them wherever and whenever possible.
Renewable sources come with many limitations. They are not accessible all the time. So we need systems to store the energy obtained. We need to have a firm belief that a world without fossil fuels is not a utopia
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