The purpose of using renewableenergy is to reduce our reliance of scarce natural sources such as fossilfuels. Our natural resources are being depleted at an exponential rate andthese sources will not be able to sustain our high usage in the long run. Thereis hence a need to turn to more sustainable sources that also involves cleanerenergy generation methods as burning of fossil fuels entail grave environmentalimpacts such as the release of acidic oxides and greenhouse gases which willcontribute to climate change.
The use of renewable energyinvolves the following criteria. Firstly and most importantly, sustainability.The energy source must be able to keep up with the demands of society withoutaffecting or limiting future usage. It must not affect future generations’ abilityto meet their own demands and needs. Secondly, its “cradle to cradle”design.
Most manufactured products end up being unrecyclable and cannot bereused for other purpose. Unlike this, renewable energy sources should createproducts that can be reclaimed or if not, products that can be disposed of anddegraded safely. This reduces the waste produced. Thirdly, innovation.
Theswitch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources requires advancedtechnology that is clean to ensure that it is effective. Unlike fossil fuels which are scarce, finite andtake millions of years to regenerate, renewable energy sources are much moresustainable and can regenerate at a much faster pace. Generally, there are fivecommonly used renewable energy sources. 1.BiomassThis includes wood, municipal solid waste, landfillgas, biogas, ethanol and biodiesels. 2.HydropowerHydropower involves the harvesting ofenergy produced from fast running water or water that falls from a height.
Watermills and dams are often used to collect this energy. For example, waterfrom the Niagara Falls and the Columbia River are led to flow through a pipetowards a watermill. The force of the flowing water will push the blades of theturbine, causing it to turn ad spin a generator which produces electricity.Despite the need for some sort of technology to generate the electricity, thisform of energy is still very much accessible even for developing countries. InApril 2017, the Ivory Coast of West Africa will being their production of a 275megawatt hydropower station. This hydropower station is predicted to boost theeconomy’s total capacity by about 10%. 3.
GeothermalGeothermal energy is heat energyderived from the natural heat stored in the Earth’s core which is made offlowing lava currents. Because the temperature of the earth’s core and itssurface differ greatly, it creates a geothermal gradient for lava currents tocontinuously flow towards the Earth’s crust, bringing thermal energy from thecore to the surface. The most simple form of geothermal energy are hot springs,whereby water sources at specific locations are naturally heated up by theEarth.
Hot springs were originally used for bathing during the Paleolithic ageand for heating space during the Romans but today, it has been smartly andefficiently used for the generation of electricity. In 2010, 28 gigawatts ofdirect geothermal heating was used for district heating, spas, industrial processes,desalination and agricultural activities. Geothermal energy is acost-effective, reliable and sustainable energy source as lava currents in theEarth’s core will never stop flowing and this heat will always be supplied tothe Earth’s surface. Its long-term sustainable has been demonstrated at TheGeysers field in California since 1960 and the Wairakei field in New Zealandsince 1958.
Today, these fields are still in their prime condition. The onlydownside of relying on geothermal energy is that geothermal heat is onlysupplied to specific locations of the Earth’s crust and is usually restrictedto areas near tectonic plate boundaries, where there is room for lava to flowupwards. However, thanks to recent technological advances, we have managed toexpand the range of geothermal sources, opening up tremendous potential foreven more application. 4. WindWind energy is one of the most widelyused renewable energy source around the world as it is the easiest to harvest.In fact, US has predicted that by 2030, 20% of its electricity would beproduced by wind power.
This number is extremely impressive considering the UShas a huge population size and even 20% means many households will be usingelectricity generated by wind power.Wind energy can beconsidered to be the most reliable and the cleanest source of renewable energy.It does not generate any negative consequences and since wind is created due todifferentials in air pressure which is always present in the atmosphere, theenergy harvested is at a constant. Additionally, no extra costs are involvedexcept for the building of the turbines.
Once the wind starts to push theblades, all else runs naturally. Yet, because of thefact that wind is dependent on air pressure, the extent of its strength isvariable with most turbines usually functioning at only 30%. On another note,though not a huge concern, there is a slight risk that the spinning turbinespose a threat to flying creatures. 5.
SolarSolar power makesuse of sunlight. Light energy is converted into electricity directly via photovoltaic(PV) or indirectly via concentrated solar power. Solar power is another sourceof energy that is tapped on greatly, alongside wind power. Last year, 50% moresolar power was added worldwide due to the sun rush in US and China. Theindustry grew significantly, and seems to be a common action plan used toreduce combustion of fossil fuels and carbon emissions to meet the ParisClimate Agreement targets as using solar energy does not generate emissions,hence is sustainable in the long run. SingaporeIn Singapore, solarenergy is the most promising source of renewable energy for electricitygeneration. This is because Singapore has a small land size, thus we areincapable of building wind turbines which require large open area and we lacknatural waters such as waterfalls or rivers. Therefore, Singapore cannot relyon wind and hydropower, leaving us to turn to solar power.
Even with therestriction of options, solar energy remains extremely effective in Singaporeas we have an average solar irradiance of 1580 kWh/m2/year and 50% more solarradiation that temperate countries, giving solar power a lot more potential. However, asmentioned above, Singapore’s small land size is a great disadvantage to us inthat there is not a lot of space to deploy solar energy. Standing at only amere 716.1km2, our scarcity of land has left us no choice but to build solarpanels on the rooftop of buildings instead. 6. Others Turning Footstepsinto ElectricityThis involves theconversion of kinetic energy from movement to electrical energy.
In Rio deJaneiro, this plan has been executed by gathering kinetic energy fromyoungsters playing on one of the newly built football pitch. When theseyoungsters run across the Astro Turf, 200 hidden energy capturing tiles willcapture their energy, helping to power the neighborhood’s street lighting. The very samecompany that installed these tiles are also responsible for harvesting energyfrom motor vehicles and producing pseudo-batteries from high footfall areas. Groasis WaterboxxThe GroasisWaterboxx is a new type of technology that helps plants to grow healthily indry areas. It aims to restore greenery and vegetation cover to not only make up for the years of deforestationpreviously, but also increase agricultural production by planting trees thatare able to edible bear fruits and vegetables. This technology has beenextremely well received and even won the Innovation of the Year Award at the PopularScience Green Tech Best of What’s New in 2010.