Renewable Energy

As scientists across the world agree that the threat of global warming – the rising temperatures believed to be caused largely by man’s prolonged use of fossil fuels – is very real so the search for renewable energy sources is amplified. We need power – nobody denies that – but to safeguard the future of the planet we need also to make sure it is safe, does not contribute to global warming and is affordable. This is where renewable energy comes into play, and there are many options being investigated as well as some that are widely used.

Solar Power

Among the most tried and tested of renewable energy sources is solar power – the harnessing of the rays of the sun. Used widely in countries where there is plentiful sunlight, this form of energy is utilised in both small scale applications – solar panels attached to individual houses for heat and light – to large scale commercial power plants where many thousands of panels work in unison to provide electricity. The advantage of solar power is that it is cheap and simple, the disadvantage that it is only efficient where sunlight is readily available.

Wind Power

One of the more controversial of renewable energy sources – although also one of the most heavily supported – is wind power, whereby windmills are used to drive turbines that produce electricity. This process is brought about by large mechanical windmills – sometimes stand-alone in the case of factories and other institutions, other times presented in wind farms where many together produce electricity for the national grid – which are placed in suitable positions to catch the wind. There are claims that the effectiveness of such windmills is limited – they produce power only when the wind is at a certain speed, for example – and that the cost far outweighs the benefit. Nevertheless, they still receive massive support from renewable energy insiders.

Tidal Power

A development of hydro-electric power – the production of electricity by water turning turbines – is wave power. This has been investigated carefully as it is believed that harnessing the colossal power of the tides, especially around the coast of island countries such as Great Britain, could be the best way forward. Again, there are doubts as to the viability of the schemes and also concerns about the damage they would cause to the natural eco-systems, but still this is held as one of the more promising renewable energy solutions.

Geo-Thermal Energy

Quite simply this is the harnessing of the natural heat that is produced deep below ground. Some homes already use systems to heat water – and the home – by way of channelling geo-thermal energy to the surface, and in countries such as Iceland there are large scale systems that heat entire towns using available heat from underground. This is a form of energy that is developing fast and is one of the most promising of all renewable energy possibilities.

Biomass

The recycling and use of waste oil products, and burning of other waste, is the well tried biomass energy method, and this again is one of the most widely used of all renewable energy projects. There is no doubt at all that the earth needs renewable energy projects as, after all, one day the fossil fuels will be used up. It is up to us to make sure we attack the problem with the greatest possible care.