For many years people have been burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas for energy, except now sources of fossil fuels are depleting – plus they create pollution when they are burned too. People are now starting to realize that we have to find sources of renewable energy. These various types of sources include solar, wind and marine energy.
One of the most used and commonly known sources of renewable energy is solar power. Everyday the sun produces a large amount of energy and that sunlight can be used to convert into electricity using different technologies. It can be collected by solar collectors. These are the heat-absorbing panels that you see on many rooftops. The way these solar collectors work is that they absorb solar energy and turn it to heat energy. Water is warmed by the heat energy and stored in tanks. Solar collectors are being used to heat the water in your house as well as to heat swimming pool. Both uses take advantage of the same technologies.
Wind power is another major sources of renewable energy. The energy contained in the wind comes indirectly from the sun, that is the sun heats the surface of the atmosphere which causes the wind to blow. Wind power is preferable to the use of fossil fuels as it does not produce any greenhouse gases and it is an abundant resource. The concept of using wind energy is not new. Wind power was originally being used to produce electricity by the ancient Egyptians and by the beginning of the 20th century wind power was widely used in Europe, in particular Denmark. However it was the introduction of cheap oil and gas that ruined the wind power industry. It is only now that people are getting interested in wind power once again due to the issues with pollution and green house gas emissions.
Scientists are working at developing technologies that obtain energy/power from the tides and the waves. Marine energy is therefore another of the main renewable energy sources. As an energy source it is sustainable and has very little impact on the environment. Using water to generate energy is a relatively new idea and there are no commercial wave energy devices on the market at this point of time. But, there is some technology that is being applied and trialled. One example that is producing power on the Scottish island of Islay is an equipment known as LIMPET. There are always new technologies being developed. Watch out for any new innovations in marine energy technology next time you pick up the newspaper or an environmental magazine.
Geothermal energy is the last in the sources of renewable energy that is going to be mentioned in this article. The easiest method to make full use of geothermal energy is by salt water and steam that is trapped in the many layers of rock underneath the earth’s core. Natural hot springs are the most popularized type of geothermal energy that has been utilized in the last few centuries. But, geothermal heat pumps are the new “it“ energy product. Even though geothermal energy is sustainable, it is not widely available. This is because not everybody lives by a geothermal reservoir and that often the technology is far too expensive. But it is still good to have this as an option.