Science Types of Renewable Energy

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Renewable energy comes in many forms including solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric. Renewable energy is energy is energy generated from natural resources, and is better for the environment, cost effective and more energy efficient than most of the energy being used today. Types of renewable energy include: Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Biomass or Biofuel and Hydroelectric. I will give a brief overview of each of those here.

Solar energy is energy derived from the heat and light from the sun. Solar energy can be harnessed by the use of photovoltaic cells or heat engines. There are two broad categories of solar technology, passive and active. Which type you have depends on the method of capture. Active solar technology uses photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors. These use electrical or mechanical equipment to capture sunlight. A passive solar technique would be building a house in a direction where it is oriented to the sun, and using thermal mass or some type of solar dispersing properties to utilize the sun's heat.

Geothermal energy is power which can be derived from heat in the ground. Some of this heat comes from the original formation of earth, some from solar energy that has been absorbed and some from radioactive decay. This type of energy is efficient, reliable and friendly to the environment, and could at some point be used for up to 90% of needed fuel. Unfortunately, at this time, most geothermal power plants lie near the earth's tectonic plates, where energy can be harnessed from earthquakes. However, this is slowly changing.

Wind Power is the conversion of wind into usable energy. This can be obtained through the use of wind turbines to generate electricity. A wind turbine is a rotating machine which takes the kinetic energy from wind and turns it into mechanical energy. Wind Power is increasing by about 30% every year. It is used mostly in Europe and the United States. Wind is converted into useful energy with the use of wind turbines, which can be used to produce electricity. A pumped storage plant can be used to store wind energy during periods of high winds, so that wind power can be used in times of no or little wind. This storing capacity increases the economic value of wind and is important because in certain geographical regions high wind speeds aren't always available to keep up with energy needs.

Biomass or biofuel is material which is gotten from recently living organisms. In the simplest cast would be the fuel obtained from burning wood. Other examples of biomass are manure, crop residue and waste from gardens. Biofuel is a liquid, solid or gas which is derived from former living material such as plants or something else of plant origin. For the most part, biofuel is used to power vehicles, heat homes and for cooking.

Hydroelectricity is generated by the flow of water, water flowing due to gravitational force. At the current time, hydroelectricity is the most widely used form of renewable energy. It accounts for 88% of renewable energy sources today. It is a clean method of energy production as it has no discernible waste. Most hydroelectric power comes from water from a dam. Dam water drives a hydraulic turbine and electrical generator in order to produce hydroelectric power. The turbine helps to regulate the flow of water, increasing it when more energy is needed, decreases it when less is needed, and thus returning water into storage.

This is just a brief description of the various types of renewable energy that are available. They are being used in small amounts today, but are currently being researched more and more. Hopefully, in the not too distant future they will become the norm.

More about this author: Wendy R.

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