What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is green energy that comes from natural resources which are naturally replenished or renewable. The more familiar examples of renewable energy would be solar, wind, geothermal, etc. As of now, the world relies heavily on coal, oil, and natural gas for its energy. These sources are referred to as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are non-renewable because they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. In contrast, renewable energy resources are constantly replenished and will never run out. These clean sources of energy can be used directly for heating and lighting buildings, for generating electricity, for hot water heating and solar cooling, and for a variety of commercial and industrial uses.
Key Benefits of Renewable Energy
Global adoption of renewable energy is the key to a sustainable and energy-efficient future due to the many benefits associated with its use and implementation. Benefits of the utilization of renewable energy include environmental impact reduction, extended lifespans, generation of jobs, economic proliferation, and energy security. The positive incentives of the incorporation of renewable energy into our world systems have prompted steadfast movements. Scientists have already advanced a plan to power 100% of the world’s energy with wind, hydroelectric, and solar power by the year 2030. In general, all forms of energy are initially expensive, but as time goes on, renewable energy becomes cheaper while fossil fuels become even more costly. Renewable energy technologies are the gateway to a sustainable future situated on green energy.
Current Mainstream Forms of Renewable Energy
Hydroelectric Power: Hydroelectric power, or hydropower, is renewable energy created by flowing water that is captured and turned into electricity. Since water is about 800 times denser than air, even a slow flowing stream of water can yield considerable amounts of energy. The most common type of hydroelectric power plant consists of a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. Another type of hydroelectric power plant, a pumped storage plant, can even store power. Additionally, a small or micro-hydroelectric power system can produce enough electricity for a home, farm, or ranch.
Solar Energy: Solar energy is renewable energy derived from the sun through the form of solar radiation. Solar powered electrical generation relies on photovoltaics and heat engines. Solar renewable energy technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending the way they capture, convert, and distribute solar energy. Active solar techniques include the utilization of photovoltaic panel and solar thermal collectors; passive solar techniques include the utilization of the building itself without the involvement of mechanical and electrical devices. In the last decade, advancements in solar energy technology have dramatically changed the industrial landscape. Semiconductors used in solar panels were long-thought to have reached their maximum efficiency, but breakthroughs are being continuously reported of progress towards clean tech that will one day make solar energy a cost-effective and environmentally conscious alternative. The costs of implementing such technology are offset by federal incentives and returns on investment potentially within months of deployment. Presently, alongside a record growth in the renewable energy sector, the establishment of a global market for solar energy is also being observed.
Wind Power: Wind power and the ability to harness this renewable energy isn’t a 21st century discovery. Hundreds of years ago, humans were using windmills to pump water and grind grain. Today, we have the wind turbine which is essentially the modern day equivalent to the windmill. Airflows are used to run turbines which in turn generate electricity. In recent years, wind energy has become one of the most diverse sectors in the renewable energy industry. Wind turbines can be used as stand-alone applications, or they can be connected to a utility power grid or even combined with a photovoltaic (solar cell) system. For utility-scale sources of wind energy, a large number of wind turbines are usually built close together to form a wind plant.
Biomass: Biomass is plant material that can be utilized as a renewable energy source. It is considered a renewable energy source because the energy it contains comes from the sun through photosynthesis. When the plant material is burnt, it releases the contained energy. Biomass functions as a sort of natural battery for storing solar energy. As long as biomass is produced sustainably, the battery should last indefinitely. Generally, there are two main approaches to using plants for energy production: growing plants specifically for energy use (first- and third-generation biomass), and using residues from plants that are used for other things (second-generation biomass). The best approaches vary from region to region according to climate, soils, and geography.
Biofuel: Biofuels are renewable energy sources that include a wide range of fuels which are derived from biomass. Biofuels encompass different forms including solid biomass, liquid fuels, and various biogases. Liquid biofuels include bio-alcohols (bioethanol) and oils (biodiesel). Gaseous biofuels include biogas, landfill gas, and synthetic gas. Biofuels provided 2.7% of the world’s transport fuel in 2010.
Renewable Energy Integration
President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes more than $70 billion in direct spending and tax credits for clean energy and associated transportation programs. The US military has also focused on the use of renewable fuels for military vehicles. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable fuels can be produced in any country which creates a strategic advantage. The military has already committed itself to have 50% of its energy consumption come from alternative sources. Additionally, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was created in 2009 to promote the worldwide adoption of renewable energy. This intergovernmental organization aims to provide concrete policy advice and facilitate capacity building and technology transfer. As of 2011, 119 countries have some form of national renewable energy policy target or renewable support policy.
Renewable Portfolio Standard
A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a regulation that requires states to increase renewable energy generation. An RPS stimulates the renewable energy market by increasing the demand of renewable energy technologies. Currently, states with RPS requirements mandate that 4%-30% of electricity be generated by renewable energy sources by a specified date. The primary goal of an RPS is to encourage the development and growth of renewable energy so that it can ultimately surpass conventional forms of electrical power. The state of New York has an RPS of 30% by 2015.
Our Renewable Energy Solutions
To ensure macro and micro-level adoption of renewable energy & clean technologies among industries, commercial businesses, governments and end users, Associated Renewable’s offers renewable energy solutions that enable clients to deploy energy projects through adoption of technologies such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, tidal power and, waste-to-energy solutions.