There are lots of different types of renewable energy out there.
From well-known energy sources like solar and wind to lesser-known geothermal and biomass energy, our capabilities to go carbon-neutral and find a renewable energy solution is growing daily.
This blog will explore how the different types of renewable energy work and what may be most suitable for domestic and commercial use. Let’s get into it!
Solar energy is energy harnessed from the sun’s light, and it is one of the easiest natural energy sources to utilise, as in most areas, the sun will be out for the majority of the day, every day.
Solar energy works by capturing sunlight in photovoltaic cells in solar panels and tiles. This energy creates electrical charges, which move in response to an internal electric field in each cell, causing electricity to be produced.
There are many types of solar panel set-ups, with home installations being a popular choice for people who don’t want to rely on energy from the national grid. It is the most commonly used domestic renewable energy solution for its affordability and reliability.
Wind energy is produced via turbines, often on a large scale at a ‘wind farm’. When the wind turns a turbine’s wings, it produces electricity via kinetic energy (i.e. the movement of the turbine results in energy being created, which is converted into electrical energy).
Hydroelectric energy is a form of renewable energy that comes from the power of water. It harnesses kinetic energy from moving water (waves) to generate electricity, similar to how a wind farm uses energy from wind movement.
In a hydroelectric power system, a dam is built on a river which creates a reservoir of water behind it. As the water flows through the dam, it turns turbines, creating electricity. The electricity produced by the turbines is then sent to the power station and distributed to the national grid.
Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy that harnesses the heat from the Earth’s core to generate electricity.
It is created by tapping into the Earth’s natural underground reservoirs of steam and hot water, which usually occurs by drilling very deep wells into the Earth’s crust. As with hydroelectric energy, these hot fluids are used to power turbines.
There are two main types of geothermal power plants:
- Dry Steam Plants – these plants take the dry steam out of the ground and use it to power a turbine.
- Flash Team Plants – these plants take hot water out of the ground, turn it into steam and then that steam is used to power a turbine.
Geothermal energy is considered a renewable energy source because the heat from the Earth’s core is continuously replenished through natural processes such as radioactive decay and heat from the sun. This means that Geothermal energy will stay supplied and doesn’t face shortages when being farmed for human energy usage.
Biomass energy is generated from organic matter such as plants, crops and waste materials. These materials are burned to produce heat or converted into biofuels that power vehicles (such as biodiesel or ethanol).
Biomass can be converted into electricity via the ‘biopower’ process. During this transition, biomass is burned to produce steam, which drives a turbine to produce kinetic energy for electricity generation.
Biomass is considered renewable because organic materials can be replenished relatively quickly. However, it may become trickier to produce energy this way as the world’s resources become smaller. There is also the issue of fumes being emitted due to the incineration process, which can result in environmental damage.
Do We Use All The Different Types Of Renewable Energy?
Yes. In many ways, people are now doing their best to switch to renewable energy. This means that a range of renewable sources is used daily by governments, industrial experts and domestically.
There are limitations to some of these energy sources; for example, the average person would struggle to be able to use Geothermal energy for their own usage, and may need to instead rely on something such as solar panels.
While wind farms can be simple enough to set up, they require planning permission to be built as they are often quite large and require enough wind to power them. The same goes for hydro-based solutions, which require certain conditions of water to operate at peak capacity.
How someone uses renewable energy and what type of renewable energy they use comes down to their demands and energy usage, as well as the amount of time and money they can invest.
Biomass and Geothermal energy tend to be used by larger, industrial companies. Whilst solar panels are a better alternative for dometic homes and commercial businesses to the fact they require little up-keep to work.
Many brilliant types of renewable energy are available for commercial and domestic use. The energy you use will come down to the type of organisation you are running and your demands for energy production.
If you are interested in exploring a solar energy solution, Smartly’s solar experts will be more than happy to discuss what we have on offer. Please contact us to learn more about how renewable energy can help your home or business.