The conventional and widely used energy sources of today comprise of various types of fossil fuels. The quantity of fossil fuels available is limited in number. Various harmful chemicals like Carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and various other hydrocarbons are emitted by their usage. This makes them harmful to the environment and human health in the long run. The usage of such conventional energy sources has been a primary cause of global warming around the world.
This can be combated with the use of renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources are energy sources obtained from natural sources which are not limited in availability and replenish themselves quickly and regularly. This renewable energy is also known as green energy.
The different types of renewable energy are: Solar energy, Wind energy, Hydro energy, Geothermal energy and Marine energy.
Solar energy is energy obtained from radiant heat and light obtained from the sun. This is done by the help of techniques such as photovoltaic systems, solar heating, artificial photosynthesis, concentrated solar power plants and the like. Obtained solar energy can then be converted to either thermal energy or electrical energy. It can also be used for the environment-friendly production of hydrogen.
Advantages of using solar energy are:
- It is a renewable and green source of energy
- Sunlight is not limited, therefore, there is no risk of running out of the source
Disadvantages of using solar energy are:
- The process is weather dependent as it relies of the availability of sunlight. Thus, it also cannot be done at night
- Solar energy systems take up a lot of space and are expensive
Wind energy is energy which is obtained from mechanical action of the wind. This action is carried out with the help of wind turbines. Through the action of wind turbines, the kinetic energy of the wind gets converted into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy then gets converted into electricity.
Advantages of using wind energy are:
- The whole process does not release any products harmful to either the environment or human health
- It is a sustainable energy source
Disadvantages of using wind energy are:
- Wind turbines can only be built in remote areas where large, unobstructed areas of land are available
- The wind turbines may pose a risk to birdlife
Hydro energy is also known as hydroelectric energy. It is obtained from the construction of hydroelectric power plants in dams over flowing bodies of water like rivers. Similar to the functioning of wind turbines, hydraulic turbines transform the kinetic energy of flowing water into mechanical energy which is further used to create electricity.
Advantages of using hydro energy are:
- Creation of hydro power plants helps in the creation of water reservoirs
- It is not limited by time or the sun, i.e., it can be produced continuously
Disadvantages of using hydro energy are:
- Creation of dams disrupts the water ecosystems
- Hydro energy power plants can only be constructed over flowing water bodies and therefore are constrained by location
Geothermal energy is obtained from the heat generated from rocks in the Earth’s crust. This energy is harnessed by digging into the crust and using the heat to drive the movement of turbines which generate energy.
Advantages of using geothermal energy are:
- It does not require any fuel
- It does not require much maintenance
Disadvantages of using geothermal energy are:
- It may cause earthquakes
- The process of digging may cause the release of greenhouse gases from beneath the surface
Efforts should be made to research and explore renewable energies more for the creation of a healthier planet and lifestyle.