It can no longer be denied that the world, as a whole, is undergoing an increasing energy crisis and it is affecting every facet of the life of every human being in every part of the world. This is reflected by the fact that prices for almost all consumer products have increased, because the cost to produce, transport, and sell them has increased as well, a situation that is caused by the depletion of our energy sources. It is also undeniable that fossil fuels and sources of oil will eventually run out as these resources, no matter how plentiful at the beginning, remain to be a finite amount. There is also the fact that most of the energy resources we use now are harmful to our environment, which, in turn, is ultimately harmful to us and our future generations. All of these factors mean that we need to look at other means to give us energy. Renewable energy is one such avenue that provides us with much hope.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy that can be found in our environment that renews or replenishes itself naturally. Essentially, given that it is used and allocated efficiently, it is energy that doesn’t run out and energy that we can count on to be used. Most forms of renewable energy do not inflict as many negative side effects on our planet, at least compared to resources such as gas and oil. Therefore, finding renewable energy is an urgent priority to assist us in solving our energy-related needs. Examples of renewable energy and methods by which it can be extracted include micro-inverters, solar power, clean coal, natural gas, wind turbine, and solar heating-cooling.
As the name suggests, solar power is energy that is obtained by taking the heat and radiant light that the sun naturally gives off and converting these into usable, attainable energy. Solar power has been, in one way or another, in use as far back as the time of ancient civilizations and has been a constant, reliable form of energy. The sun is, after all, an unchanging presence and important factor in the living world around us. Solar energy, through the continual advancement of our technology, can be used in many forms and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Solar heating-cooling, which is also referred to as Solar Air Conditioning, is a system of using solar power to heat, cool, or ventilate an indoor area. This works through solar panels, or, in fact, anything that can properly and efficiently absorb heat such as a thermal chimney or even strategically planted trees, absorbing heat during the day to make a place cooler or releasing heat during the night to make a place warmer. Solar heating-cooling can be used to provide a home with heat or cooling. Though the obvious advantage of solar heating-cooling is that you can save energy, it is very expensive to install a completely solar-powered air conditioning system.
Micro-inverters are converters of solar energy which form an alternating current from a direct current, giving us energy and usable electricity. This electricity can then be used for virtually any of our needs, provided that the electricity produced is sufficient. Micro-inverters differ from the more traditional central inverters because they are still able to produce the maximum amount of electricity even if individual solar panels are obstructed by debris or other impediments such as dirt, dew, shadows, and even snow. However, they are more expensive than the conventional forms of inverters and, because of their composition, micro-inverters are harder to maintain.
Other Renewable Energy Resources Found on Earth
Aside from the sun, there are many forms of renewable energy that can be found much nearer. In fact, they are right here on Earth. These forms of energy are present everyday and we might simply not be aware of them, disallowing us from properly utilizing them.
Wind turbines, which are sometimes also known as windmills, are very simple mechanisms that can provide us with large amounts of renewable energy. A wind turbine works by gathering the kinetic energy provided by wind and converting this into mechanical energy which can produce electricity and power. Large scale wind turbines can provide enough power and electricity for commercial use while smaller scale wind turbines can produce sufficient energy to perform a wide range of functions, from charging the battery of a boat to giving electricity to run household appliances. Advantages of a wind turbine include easy implementation and needing only the wind for it to work. Disadvantages, on the other hand, have to do with the inability of the wind to be counted on as a reliable source, as too weak a wind will not turn the turbines at all while too strong a wind might destroy the mechanisms.
Natural gas, contrary to its questionable and possibly funny name, is actually a very usable and natural source of energy. Natural gases are composed of a mix of methane, carbon, and other gases that can be naturally found in the environment. Caches of natural gas can usually be found near marshes and swamps, underground rock formations, and oil deposits. Natural gas, aside from being an efficient power source, is also an important component that is used to create a variety of products, such as plastic, fertilizer, glass, for cooking, those used in heating, and providing energy for vehicles. However, before natural gas can be properly and effectively used, it has to go through a thorough and at times complicated processing to cleanse the usable gas and remove impurities that it is naturally found with. Natural gas can also be hazardous if caches of it are left unattended.
Though most of us are already familiar with regular coal, what makes clean coal and clean coal technology different is the process in which it is burned and designed so that the carbon emissions and other pollutants it produces are greatly reduced and are not as harmful to the environment. This lets us use clean coal without having to worry about its negative effects on our world. However, the development and use of clean coal is very expensive and the technology is still not fully realized.
With all of these forms of renewable energy, we might someday be able to achieve a world in which we do not need to rely on fossil fuels and nonrenewable sources of energy. However, this can only happen if each one of us plays his or her part in maintaining the health of the world and of its people.