Blog post available in read-mode
A renewable energy is a sustainable energy source that can't run out
Renewable energy is known as alternative energy collected from renewable resources, which is replenished constantly by natural processes. Alternative energy is a term used for an energy source that is a substitute to conventional energy such as fossil fuel. Renewable energy provides opportunities for an unlimited, sustainable energy supply with low environmental impact.
One of the greatest problems that the world is facing today is world climate change and CO2 emissions. Most emission that contributes to the global environmental changes comes from the power sector, where burning fossil fuels release high levels of greenhouse gases and CO2, causing irreparably harm to the environment. According to US Environmental Protection Agency, CO2 emissions have been increased by 90% since 1970, also a fossil fuel and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increased from 1970 to 2011(1). An increase in these greenhouse gases potentially induces serious environmental consequences such as Global Warming. To check the rise of global temperature it is necessary to shift to renewable resources at a faster pace not only in power generation but also in heating, building, and transporting.
Renewable sources that are used globally come either directly or indirectly from sunlight or solar energy. Renewable energies mainly include:
- Solar energy: the energy obtained from the Sunlight. It is one of our planet’s most abundant and freely available energy resources. The main technologies here are solar photovoltaic (using the light from the sun) and solar thermal (using the sun’s heat)
- Wind energy: the energy obtained from the wind. It is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy. The wind is used to produce electricity by using wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems
- Hydro energy: the energy derived from flowing water. Hydropower represents one of the oldest and largest renewable energy sources for electricity in the world. The basic principle of hydropower is using water to spinning a generator’s turbine blades for producing electricity
- Bioenergy: energy extracted from organic material. Biomass energy is produced from non-fossilized plant materials to create heat and electricity or to produce liquid fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
- Geothermal energy: heat energy from the hot interior of the earth or near the earth's surface.
- Ocean energy: energy derived mainly from the motion of tides and waves. It is one of the newest forms of renewable energy still at the research and development stage.
All the renewable energy that has been developing globally, having own benefits and challenges. The main benefits include:
- Health and environmental benefits
Renewable energy produces little or no air pollution. Less emission of greenhouse gases contributes to an overall healthier atmosphere.
- Energy Security
Renewable energy provides reliable power supports which diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on fossils fuels.
- Economic Development
Renewable energy helps economic development because it is a cheaper alternative to most traditional sources of energy. The renewable energy industry is labor-intensive, resulting in greater job creation in manufacturing, installation, and more.
- Sustainable energy source
Renewable energy sources are directly taken from the environment, which is inexhaustible, unlike conventional energy sources (coal, gas, oil, or nuclear energy). It enhances local development without risking the future of the next generations.
Technologies related to renewable energy are comparatively new and facing few challenges. The efficiency of these technologies relies mostly on the weather, their location, and surrounding environment, which confines their practicability to a specific location. Hydro energy and bioenergy also have their own environmental challenges. The high initial cost of installations is also a major issue in developing renewable energy. Due to some of these constraints, renewable energy growth fails to fulfill its demands.
Renewable energies boost up by the international community through the Paris agreements, which is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. On 12 December 2015 about 197 countries signed in this agreement at COP21 in Paris. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement, all countries agreed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to keep the global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6° F) and effort to limit them even more to 1.5 °C. (2.7° F). These steps by international communities and the latest innovation pull back the growth of the renewable sector. Despite the global health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of renewable energy generation beat all earlier estimates by adding renewable energy capacity more than 260GW globally in 2020 (2) But still rigorous efforts require to reach carbon neutrality (i.e. net-zero global CO2 emissions) across all sectors of the economy, by mid of this century.