Renewable sources of energy
Energy is present in almost every human activity: serving to heat our homes, as fuel for cars, for plowing the soil and moving machinery. Use of renewable sources of energy is technology that is increasing rapidly and gives us hope for brighter future for humanity and our planet.
Using the world’s energy reserves improves the quality of life for humans to the point that we could not imagine how it was before this energy was discovered. We’re so accustomed to the use of energy that none of us could imagine how people survive in times before its existence.
Solar energy is the basic reason for creating energy without which modern life would not be possible.
There are several types of energy sources:
- Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil)
- nuclear energy
- renewable energy sources (hydro-power, wind energy, solar, geothermal, biomass, etc.).
Energy production has a significant negative impact on the natural environment. Combustion of fossil fuels is accompanied by release of acid fumes, dust, smoke and other pollutants.
Operation of nuclear power plants can be risky, and storage and treatment of radioactive waste is still unresolved technical problem.
In recent years people are concerned about global environmental issues such as acid rain and climate change.
Renewable energy is any sustainable energy source that comes from natural environment. Renewable energy sources are maintained or replaced in a natural way, with equal intensity to the intensity of use. Unlike them, it took millions of years to create fossil fuels, so the intensity of their use far exceeds the intensity of their recovery. Because of that their availability is limited.
The most common forms of renewable energy are:
- geothermal energy and
- biomass energy.
Solar energy is the most powerful source of energy. Its use in larger scale is limited because the setting of solar panels / collectors requires large areas, and major changes in the amount of solar radiation.
There are two main methods of utilizing solar energy. First involves installing solar water heaters in which water boils, and then evaporates due to solar energy which is directed by moving mirrors. The steam generated from boiler is used in steam turbine.
The second method involves using solar cells that directly convert solar energy into electricity. Solar panels do not pollute the environment but are a potential environmental problem, because after their use they become waste.
Wind energy is mechanical energy that actually comes from solar energy. Used since the Middle Ages in water mills-windmills and ships with sails.
Modern wind turbines effectively transform the wind power into electricity.
Electricity generated in this way is slightly more expensive than energy produced in power plants. The benefit of wind turbines is higher in places with strong winds, but strong storms and hurricanes can easily destroy the plants.
Geothermal energy is created when hot water is transformed into electrical energy using generators driven by turbines. The exploitation of geothermal energy causes the so-called thermal pollution. Using hot water causes many problems with corrosion of the equipment-which makes this option more expensive.
Biomass energy can be generated by burning plant mass. This method is not harmful to the environment because emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are insignificant. The efficiency of turbines is insufficient which makes this method quite expensive, and consumption of biomass is unjustifiably high.
An alternative solution is the decomposition of plant mass in gas (as methane), which is then burned in gas turbines and run more efficiently.
This method can be applied in areas where large amounts of waste from agriculture. Methanol and ethane generated from fermented biomass can be used directly as fuel for vehicles.
Using renewable sources of energy is becoming more and more important factor these days and we have to exert maximum efforts for its increasing presence in everyday life and to allow a better life for future generations and save the Earth.