What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy or alternative energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. It is sustainable and something that can’t run out – like the sun. Renewable energy is an alternative to energy that relies on fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal and is less harmful on the environment. Transitioning to renewable energy helps to combat climate change.
Types of renewable energy
Solar energy is energy from sunlight. Solar power is produced when energy from the sun is converted into electricity or used to heat air, water or other substances. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “more energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year.”
Wind energy is energy harnessed from wind. Wind power is one of the cleanest and safest of all the renewable methods of generating electricity. Wind turbines are used to capture wind power.
There is a huge amount of heat at the earth’s core which can be found by digging down towards the centre. The earth’s natural heat is called geothermal energy. Water heated by geothermal energy can be used for heating or for generating electricity. Unlike solar and wind energy, useable geothermal energy can only be found in some areas of the world.
Biomass is plant and animal matter such as straw, sewage, waste food, and wood chips. These natural materials are burnt to produce heat and electricity. This is called biomass energy. They can also use biomass to create fuel called biodiesel which can be used in vehicles instead of petrol and diesel. While less polluting than fossil fuels, burning biomass does cause some air pollution.
Hydropower means energy from moving water. Electricity can be generated using three sources of moving water: waves, tides and rivers. Hydroelectric energy is electricity generated by building dams across rivers which force water to turn generators. Wave and tidal energy are both still undeveloped.