The world relies heavily on natural resources like coal and gas. Coal is a form of biomass that has been compressed over millennia to produce a non-renewable fossil fuel. We use these fossil fuels for generating power, heating our homes and businesses, manufacturing of goods and transportation. We are very accustomed to the conveniences provided by modern technology and we are indeed very fortunate to live in this world. However, we must consider the fact that the natural resources making this possible will not last forever. We have to make a lifestyle change and look towards renewable energy resources to take care of our needs.
Renewable energy includes solar energy, wind power, hydro power, tidal power, geothermal energy, biomass and wave power. These are some of the resources which are available in abundance as they are naturally replenished.
1. Solar energy, obtained from the sun, is being used for industrial as well as domestic purposes. It can be used for cooking heating, cooling and ventilation, among other things. Most sources of renewable energy are directly or indirectly powered by the sun. The heat of the sun is dissipated around the globe in the form of winds and ocean currents.
2. Wind farms installed on large plain tracts of agricultural land utilize the air flows. The airflows can be used to run wind turbines to generate electricity which in turn can be used to power our homes and businesses. There is no pollution due to the operation of wind farms and thus it proves to be an eco-friendly way to produce this energy.
3. Hydo power can be obtained from the water bodies like oceans and rivers. Energy from flowing rivers can be captured to generate electricity. So also, mechanical energy from tides and ocean waves can be used to generate electricity. The thermal energy produced by oceans using the sun’s heat is another renewable source of energy.
4. Geothermal energy is energy obtained by harvesting the heat from the Earth’s core. This energy is obtained by building power stations at places where it is available closer to the Earth’s surface. Dry steam plants take steam out of fractures and fissures in the Earth’s crust and use it to drive a turbine that spins a generator to produce electricity.
5. Biomass is a solid material obtained from living organisms like plants and animals. Biofuels like ethanol and biogas obtained from biomass are being increasingly used in the transportation industry as an alternative fuel.
Renewable energy sources are generally sustainable as they cannot run out and their environmental impacts are generally not as harsh as those of fossil fuels. Although it is expensive to build huge plants to harness this energy, in the long run it may prove to be an eco-friendly way to use renewable energy. Biomass and geothermal energy will require wise management if they are to be used in a sustainable manner. All of the other renewable resources, are replenished quite easily by nature.