By Akul Ranjan. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.
Renewable energy is the future, allowing an alternative form of energy that can counteract rising temperatures and the rapid consumption of fossil fuels. Renewable energy is just sources of energy that can be renewed over a period of time, such as hydropower or windmills. Increasing environmental damage, carbon emissions, global warming, and natural resource depletion are all challenges that can be dealt with renewable energy.
Renewable vs Inexhaustible energy
Inexhaustible energy sources are different from renewable energy sources as the former can never be diminished or require time to replenish. An example is a solar power, as sun rays are continuous and do not need to be replenished. Renewable energy sources are limited by the sometimes large amounts of time and effort needed to replenish them.
Types of Renewable Energy Sources
There are multiple types of renewable energy sources, the most common ones being wind energy, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass. Each is geared towards its own benefits and drawbacks. Wind energy is extremely reliable as it is a very constant source of energy, hydroelectric uses water flow to spin electric generators, geothermal is Earth’s internal energy that fuels energy plants, and biomass is electricity made from organic matter.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Renewable energy comes with its pros and cons. As we have established, renewable energy will not run out, and in the long run, is more profitable and money-saving. However, the initial set-up cost and resources needed are large, as most of these energy sources require specific geographic locations. For example, geothermal energy plants have to be in areas of high heat concentration in the Earth’s crust, such as locations with geysers. These plants are also very expensive to start up and require huge areas of land. Less maintenance is required once the plants are up and running, fortunately. Renewable energy also helps create jobs and advancements in scientific fields, and even reduces pollution and waste. Carbon emissions are still present, but considerably lower than fossil fuels.
Current State of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy growth has grown by 90% in the 21st century. Solar energy is currently the fastest growing alternative energy source and is being introduced in retail to the common homeowner. Around 11% of the energy used for heat and transportation came from renewables in 2019, mostly from mainstream sources. Renewable energy has gained momentum and is now on its way towards greater integration.