Renewable energy appears to be a term invented in the last few decades. However, mankind has been using renewable energy for centuries to power dhows using wind, transport logs over rivers, and warm water or dry grains and fish for preservation using the sun. The greatest challenge then was energy storage since mankind had not discovered ways to tap into these natural sources for future use.
Tides changed in 1859 when Edwin Drake discovered oil, ushering in the era of dirty energy. Oil could be used to heat homes at night or during cold winter. Unfortunately, these dirty energy sources have resulted in environmental damage including land degradation, exposure to emissions, water pollution, and the widespread global warming that is threatening humankind with extinction. In an effort to reverse these damages, the world is pushing for renewable energy sources.
Defining Renewable Energy
Before reviewing the facts, it helps to understand what renewable energy means in this context. Renewable energy also referred to as clean energy, is tapped from natural sources that are constantly replenished by nature. It appears that humanity is going full circle and returning to the energy sources it has relied on for more than 500 years.
Some of the sources of renewable energy include:
Nations are tapping into the natural flow of water to generate electricity with such countries as Brazil, Canada, the USA, and China being the leading producers of hydroelectricity. The main challenges of hydropower are reliability during drought and siltation that reduces the capacity of dams and damages generation equipment.
The use of wind as an energy source can be traced 7,000 years back along the River Nile to propel boats. It was later used to pump water and grind grains by Persians in 500 BC. Today, wind turbines are generating more than 4.8% with the only cited disadvantages being noise pollution and disturbance of natural aesthetics.
From home rooftops to large-scale solar farms, this is the latest clean energy revolution in the world. Solar panels tap energy directly from the sun for use in lighting, heating, air conditioning, and such other functions that require electric power. Today, it contributes slightly more than 2% of global energy demand. Solar energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of energy today.
The energy is tapped from the earth’s internal heat. It is used to generate electricity using turbines. The steam is then frozen into the water and used for other industrial, domestic, or agricultural purposes.
Other sources of renewable energy include biomass which utilizes domestic and municipal waste to generate fuel. It is a form of recycling that would have been wasted. While it helps to clear the environment, it can cause a shortage of food when the raw materials are obtained from firms.
Interesting Facts About Renewable Energy
The renewable energy platform is experiencing a lot of innovation. The innovations are mainly focused on the best energy storage systems so that the energy can be used during low seasons like at night, during drought, or winter season. Here are interesting facts about renewable energy platforms in the world.
- Fossil fuel gets 4X more subsidies than renewable energy. Surprisingly, governments are advocating for the use of renewable energy yet subsidizing oil, gas, and coal more than renewable energy. Wouldn’t it be genuine to put money where the mouth is?
- Wind and solar industries are the best job creators– crusaders against renewable energy claim that it will lead to massive job losses. However, research indicates that solar and wind energy production units are creating more jobs than would be lost when fossil fuels are used. Currently, the industry is employing more than 4 million people in the US. With the projected exponential growth, job opportunities can only increase.
- Renewable energy is the most cost-effective way to supply power to people currently off the grid. This is because it does not require expensive infrastructure and maintenance to transport power. Even areas already supplied by the grid can use solar panel battery storage to supplement the existing supply.
- One hour of sunshine can power the earth for an entire year– mankind only needs to find a way to harness solar energy. It explains the growing demand for solar power storage devices, systems, and technologies.
- Geothermal reserves can provide more power than uranium, gas, oil, and coal combined– this must be the most surprising revelation about renewable energy. Why governments are not tapping into this source of power is ununderstandable.
The push for the harnessing of renewable energy is driving innovation around clean energy appliances, systems, and infrastructure. Solar battery storage is one of the inventions that require polishing to facilitate the use of clean energy. The future can only be green and clean, helping to reverse such damages as pollution and global warming.