Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly important in the present day. So, it is worth while knowing about these energy sources: what they are, and what their advantages and disadvantages are. Below, you will find all that you need to know about these energy sources.
Meaning of renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources are sources of energy that are not used up when they are used. So, no matter how much people use them, they will not be depleted.
Renewable energy sources are automatically replenished by nature, i.e, sun’s rays, water, tides, wind, air, etc. The abundant supply of renewable energy sources contrasts with the limited supply non-renewable sources of energy, and which are used up when their energy is used. If not replenished, non-renewable sources of energy will eventually run out completely. However, there is no need to replenish renewable energy sources, and no need to worry that they will run out either.
Some examples of renewable energy sources will help to illuminate things even further. Solar energy is a key example of a renewable energy resource. No matter how many solar panels we use to harness the sun’s rays, we will not deplete the sun. The sun does not start to run out just because we are making use of its energy. Thus, it is a renewable energy source. Wind power is another example of a renewable energy source, for similar reasons: the act of us harnessing wind energy does not deplete the wind.
But, are renewable energy sources a good thing or a bad thing? Below, you will be able to read about the main advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy.
Advantages of renewable energy sources.
There are many advantages of renewable energy sources. As you will see below, many of these advantages revolve around the fact that they are an environmentally friendly option that can be used well into the future.
1. Green energy – environment friendly.
Unlike fossil fuels (which are non renewable energy sources and which release harmful substances such as CO2 and CO when burned), renewable energy sources have a very low impact on the environment. In fact, most of them are positively environmentally friendly.
2. Sustainable energy – limitless supply.
Because, crucially, they do not run out, renewable energy sources are sustainable. This makes them viable for use well into the future.
3. Low operating cost.
Once they have been set up, renewable energy apparatus such as wind farms and solar panels, are very cost effective to use and operate. As such, they are nice and cheap sources of energy.
4. Can be integrated into daily life.
Renewable energy sources can be harnessed in a way that does not disrupt daily life. For example, cows can graze in the same field as wind turbines are at work, and solar panels can be placed on the roof of a family home to create a handy energy source.
5. Able to be stored.
Many people do not realize this but renewable energy sources can be stored. For example, solar energy can be stored in solar panels so that it can be used even during cloudy weather or during the winter. Renewable energy sources are not as unreliable as one might think!
6. Lower maintenance and storage cost
Renewable energy sources are found in nature. Hence, they can be harnessed directly from the nature. For example, sunlight can be used directly using solar panels for generating electricity. We do not need to store the sunlight.
7. Rural development
Renewable energy sources are increasing used as a tool for rural development. Many rural areas suffer from supply constraints of fossil fuels. The overall cost of energy generation using renewable resources in rural areas is comparative lower owing to the abundant availability of renewable sources such as water, wind, tides and sunlight.
Disadvantages of renewable energy sources.
Unfortunately, there are also several potential disadvantages of renewable energy sources. In order to conduct a balanced evaluation of these types of energy sources, these disadvantages need to be taken into account alongside the advantages. Below, you will find a list of the key disadvantages.
1. Expensive to set up – high initial cost.
Though once they are up and running they are usually very cost effective, solar panels and wind farms (as well as other renewable energy generators such as hydroelectric dams) can be costly to install.
2. Not suitable for all climates.
Renewable energy sources often are dependent on the climate. For example, solar energy generators are not suitable for very cold or dark climates, whilst wind energy generators are not suitable for parts of the world where there is not very much wind. So, not all communities throughout the world can use all types of renewable energy sources and this somewhat limits the use of this type of energy, considered on an international scale.
3. Difficult to transport.
Whilst coal or wood can simply be loaded up onto a truck and taken to wherever it needs to go, the renewable energy that is generated from (for instance) a solar panel cannot be transported so easily. This is something that may change in the future. For example, it is already possible to store the energy generated from the sun’s rays in specialized cells (which may be thought of as kind of portable batteries).
4. Not the most efficient energy sources.
Fossil fuels such as coal and oil offer more energy per unit that many renewable sources of energy. This means that renewable sources of energy are not always energy efficient, and one will need to generate a lot more energy to heat a home from a renewable source compared to a non renewable source. Again, with new technologies, this may well change for the better in the future.
5. Reliant on certain technologies.
Renewable energy sources can often only be harnessed with the use of specialized technologies. For example, solar energy is captured in photovoltaic cells. At the moment, not all communities throughout the world have access to these technologies, or to the know how that enables them to be created and harnessed.
As non-renewable energy sources start to run out, and as the world faces the threat of substantial climate change it is imperative that we switch over to using more sustainable, greener sources of energy. Renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, wave energy and so on seem to provide a sustainable and ecologically friendly solution to our future energy needs.
As can be seen from the above, there are a few disadvantages at the moment to using renewable energy resources. However, it is important to note that they are very much outweighed by the advantages of using these energy sources. In addition, with the advent of new technologies, and the development of existing ones, it is highly likely that in the future humans will be able to find simple solutions to these issues.
What about you? Are there any ways in which you could switch over to using more energy from renewable sources? It may be easier than you think!