Renewable energy is a form of energy that is taken from a natural source and replenished faster than consumed. In a world with more energy consumption than ever, thousands of companies, organizations, and governments pursue this type of energy to produce more energy for the population at a cheaper cost.
While fossil fuels take millions of years to form, renewable energy sources are right there for us to enjoy, so long as we have the right equipment, technology, and storage method. Here are the most common types of renewable energy sources discussed today as viable for the future.
Type #1: Wind Energy
Wind energy is derived from the kinetic energy of moving air. Large wind turbines onshore or offshore capture this form of energy. Like many natural energy sources, how much wind energy a location can generate depends heavily on the conditions.
That said, multiple studies show that the world’s potential for wind energy exceeds current global electricity production, so it’s in abundance. Wind energy has significant potential to help communities worldwide utilize the power around them.
Type #2: Solar Energy
Solar energy is energy converted from sunlight. It is abundant, arriving every day on schedule. Solar can even be taken in cloudy weather. Solar energy arrives on Earth at a rate that is 10,000 times more than the amount of energy humankind currently consumes.
Solar energy is captured through photovoltaic panels or similar technology and can be converted into anything, from heat and cooling to lighting, fuel, and general electricity.
Type #3: Bio Energy
Bioenergy, such as biogas, is taken from organic materials, such as organic waste, wood, charcoal, and manure. Biogas and biofuels are used frequently in rural parts of the world, especially in countries like India and China, where poorer populations dire need essentials like the energy to cook, provide lighting, and heat or cool a space.
Biogas is one of the best bioenergy sources, but there are several. Biogas is among the best as it creates no greenhouse gas emissions. It becomes purified through a biogas upgrading system. Also, no combustion is involved in its production.
Type #4: Geothermal Energy
The heat from the Earth’s interior can be extracted from geothermal reservoirs and converted into energy. There has been geothermal energy used on Earth for more than a century. The technology is reliable.
The reservoirs used for geothermal energy are very hot, and this heat is used to cause fluid to change temperature. It is a renewable energy source as the heat is continually produced inside the Earth.
Type #5: Hydro Energy
Hydropower, or hydro energy, uses the energy of moving water, such as the ocean or water moving through reservoirs, rivers, or from a high to low altitude. Hydro energy is taken from purpose-built reservoirs or the available flow of rivers.
Hydropower is often made with designs that allow for additional by-products, such as clean drinking water, irrigation water, flood and drought protection, and more. More than solar, hydro energy is the largest renewable energy source in the world though it relies on increasingly-unreliable rainfall patterns.
Type #6: Tidal Energy
Tidal energy, a subcategory of hydro energy, is a form of energy procured from the twice-daily tidal currents. These power turbine generators can capture the energy. While tidal flows are not as constant as other hydro energy, it uses the natural movement of the ocean to derive energy from and is somewhat reliable considering.
In parts of the world with a significant tidal range, this is another way to develop a system of renewable energy based on high tide moving into the low tide and vice versa.
Type #7: Hydrogen Energy
Hydrogen energy can be made from natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, or other renewable sources, including solar and wind. Hydrogen is a clean fuel, producing only water as a by-product when consumed in a fuel cell.
It has often been sought after for transportation and electricity generation and is essentially an energy carrier used to store, move, and deliver energy. Hydrogen can be used easily in cars, houses, for portable power, and more.
What Is the Best Renewable Energy Source?
The most appropriate renewable energy source for a given location depends entirely on its conditions and climate. Regions like India, the United States, and China have the organic waste products to easily make biogas a norm, as do most countries. All a locality has to do is build itself a biogas plant and the potential there.
However, cost analyses done by governments in different parts of the world may argue other renewable energy sources as an easier way forward. For example, Iceland has geothermal energy that may be easier to harness, northern Scotland has wind energy that is off the charts, and there are coastal towns internationally where wind and hydro energy are plentiful.