Nowadays pollution is a tremendous problem for people and the earth. Researchers and scientists are trying so hard to try to solve that problem. Clean energy is one of the solutions. Clean energy means the energy that will not effect to the environment.
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Clean energy is the energy that can produce by some of the existing resources, like from the wind or the sun. Many organizations try to use these resources to be the main energy for them. Despite the fact that clean energy costs more money than the other energy sources, it can give more benefits to organizations and to the world at large.
No single energy solution can be able to meet the energy needs of the contemporary society. This explains why there are so many sources of energy. The society tries to utilize energy from various sources in a bid to meet its energy needs. Currently, there are two major categories of energy: renewable and non-renewable energy.
Renewable sources of energy refer to clean sources of energy that do not produce pollutants during their generation. Environmentalists and a large faction of other scientists believe that the answer to the current societal woes, which relate to energy, lies in diverse energy technologies that have a common characteristic: they do not use up the earth’s natural resources, or they do not cause harm to the environment (West 1). They thus use the ever-present energy resources to produce usable energy.
These are the renewable sources of energy, which produce what is also termed as clean energy. The use of this kind of energy will ensure that there is minimal environmental pollution, and that global warming is contained. This paper is an in-depth discussion of renewable or clean energy.
Advantages of clean energy
Renewable energy sources are relatively advantageous compared to their non-renewable counterparts. The main advantage of these clean energy sources is that they are reusable, and thus it is impossible to deplete them. In addition to this, renewable sources of energy are friendly to the environment.
Therefore, clean energy does not lead to air pollution, and it can therefore, reduce the extent and effects of global warming. Another advantage of clean energy is that it is obtainable from natural sources, and thus the cost of energy-production operations is minimal. The cost of maintaining the plants for production of clean energy is also minimal, and thus the overall cost of producing clean energy is not as high as that associated with the production of their non-renewable counterparts.
Green energy generation is certain areas can potentially bring economic advantages. This is because the generation plants for green energy are normally far from the main cities, and thus they can help in decentralizing economic activities. In some strategic areas, green energy generation can even be an attraction to tourists (Sawyer 1).
Disadvantages of clean energy
The main shortcoming of green energy is that it is challenging and nearly impossible to produce amounts of electricity that are as large as those which are produced using traditional methods like fossil fuel generation. The implication of this fact is that the society may need to minimize its energy consumption, or construct more green energy plants. The former is not a solution because in order to develop further, countries need more energy.
The latter implies that more cost will be incurred, making green energy nearly as costly as its non-renewable counterpart. Another disadvantage of clean energy is that the reliability of its supply is limited. This is because clean energy generation is dependent on weather patterns, and thus there may be times when energy generation goes down due to unfavourable weather.
The fact that renewable energy is a relatively new concept in the society is also disadvantageous because starting a clean energy generation project may require a relatively large capital outlay (Sawyer 1). These disadvantages indicate that the energy solution to the contemporary society may lie in striking a balance between renewable and non-renewable sources of energy.
Examples of clean energy
There are numerous types of renewable energy sources, which are classified here as main types and other types of renewable energy. The main sources of clean energy contribute the highest numbers of Gig watts of clean energy to the world’s energy market, while the other types of clean energy contribute negligible amounts of energy.
Main types of clean energy
Wind energy is the energy generated after wind power turns wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind is a product of changes in the atmosphere. The changes in atmospheric temperatures and changes in atmospheric pressure create wind by making air to move around the earth’s surface.
A wind turbine captures the wind power mechanically, and converts it into energy (Weir 1). Wind energy is therefore, a clean source of energy, and it can reliably meet the energy needs of the society. The energy is cost-effective, affordable, sustainable, and pollution-free.
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Since wind energy does not use fossil fuels, it does not produce toxic wastes, greenhouse gases, or radioactive wastes (Weir 1). This, therefore, implies that wind energy does not pollute the environment, and therefore, it is an effective way to fight global warming.
Despite the reliability of wind energy for small-scale consumption, wind energy is inappropriate for large-scale consumption. This implies that it will be unwise to rely on wind energy in a factory. The reason for this is that wind energy is dependent on environmental changes, and thus there may be times when there is no wind to generate sufficient power. However, large-scale consumers of energy can counter this by having back-up power provision.
That is, using wind energy as the main source of energy and another source like powerful back-up generators, which can be used when there is no enough wind to generate sufficient power. Wind-energy constitutes a small percentage (about 1%) of the world’s energy generation (Weir 1).
There are several ways to generate energy from the sun. The most common is the solar panel. A solar panel or photovoltaic module captures sunlight and uses it to generate direct current electricity. The design of solar panel is such that it lasts for a long period (decades), while exposed to unfavourable conditions (Imboden 1). In addition to the solar panel, a photovoltaic cell (PV cell) can also harness solar energy.
The photovoltaic cell (PV cell) uses sunlight to produce electricity. The PV cell’s body comprises of materials similar to those used in computer chips. These materials have the special property of releasing electrons upon exposure to sunlight, a property that makes them able to generate energy (Imboden 1).
Another method of harnessing solar power is by using mirrors to concentrate it. The mirrors concentrate the solar power in one area, generating heat energy. The heat energy then produces electricity after powering a generator.
Just like wind energy, solar energy is cheap, reliable and eco-friendly. Solar energy can therefore, be instrumental in countering global warming (Imboden 1). On the other hand, it is also dependent on environmental changes, and thus it is inappropriate for people who consume huge amounts of energy.
Biomass energy is organic waste and it is the oldest energy source because it was the primary source of energy until the nineteenth century. A large faction of human population for cooking and heating hitherto uses biomass energy. With technology advancement, it has been possible to transform the way biomass is used, and currently large biomass plants for generating power are in existence.
Some coal plants have even converted from using coal to using biomass as their main raw material in order to reduce climate change and its effects. Biomass is carbon-free. It is composed of waste and thus the use of waste in a productive manner amounts to protection of the environment. It is also naturally occurring, meaning that the poor can afford it (Klass). It is, however, important to note that biomass is a threat to depletion of natural resources, just like some geothermal energy forms.
Deep under the surface of earth, water moves and meets hot rocks beneath the earth’s surface. After coming into contact with these hot rocks, the water starts boiling and/or even turns into steam. The hot water may even surpass the normal boiling point of water (100oC) (“Renewable Energy” 1).
The water may not become steam at these high temperatures because it exists beneath the earth’s surface, and therefore, it has no contact with air. In the event that the water finds an escape point, through cracks and crevices, it reaches the earth’s surface at intense pressure.
When the previously mentioned water/steam rises through the underground cracks to the earth’s surface, it forms a hot spring. It may even explode from beneath the surface of the earth to the air; in this case, it forms a geyser. The hot springs and geysers, together with turbines, generate energy.
The energy can come from the heat of water or the kinetic energy of steam/water. In comparison with the other mentioned examples of renewable energy; wind and solar power, geothermal energy has an advantage in that generates electricity twenty-four hours a day (“Renewable Energy” 1). On the contrary, wind and solar energy are not consistent due to the nature of the sun and wind.
It is important to note that despite the investments made in geothermal energy, it growth is still limited. Some countries like the U.S. have however grown strong in the industry of generating geothermal energy (“Renewable Energy” 1). Geothermal energy also leads to the depletion of the earth’s resources, and thus it does not preserve natural resources. However, geothermal energy is clean because it does not produce pollutants and wastes. The steam and water can irrigate pieces of land after condensation and cooling respectively.
Hydropower refers to the energy that generates from flowing water. Hydropower generation uses turbines, which the water turns to generate energy. The water flows through the turbine rotating its blades, and making the turbine to generate energy. The amount of energy generated in this case is dependent on the amount of water that flows through the turbine, turbine size. Hydroelectricity is the largest source of clean energy world over, with a capacity of about 800 GW. It is actually one of the major sources of energy world over. It accounts for approximately 20 per cent of all the energy consumed in the whole world. The future of hydropower is also bright as some developing countries have great potential to exploit it (“The NEED Project”). Examples of such countries include India, China, etc.
Hydro energy does not have emissions that contribute to global warming, and thus it is a reliable source of green energy. It does not have the disadvantages of intermittency and high costs associable with other clean energy sources. The main disadvantage of hydro energy is that it exposes an area to risks that can be catastrophic. It is thus apparent that the advantages of hydro energy outweigh its disadvantages.
Other types of clean energy
There are still other energy sources, which belong to the renewable energy category. Examples include tidal energy and wave energy.
Tidal energy is a small form of energy whose global capacity is about 500 MW. It, therefore, constitutes 0.001% of electricity generation worldwide (“Renewable Energy” 1). Numerous companies are however researching on ways through which they can develop tidal energy generation because it less costly and it does not pollute the environment. The current tidal energy success is attributable to the French Tidal Wave Power Plant.
Wave energy is similar to tidal energy in terms of its capacity. It is, therefore, another niche source of green energy. The waves used in energy generation in this case are from the disturbance of the ocean by wind. In many regions, the wind blows consistently enough, forming continuous waves, which are reliable in energy generation.
Wave-power devices then extract the energy carried by the waves from the water surface. Alternatively, the devices can extract the energy from fluctuations in pressure below the surface of the ocean. Some of the areas that are rich with oceanic waves that produce energy when harnessed with turbines include the western coasts of northern Canada, Australia, Southern Africa and Scotland (“Renewable Energy” 1).
Some people even argue that nuclear energy is a renewable form of energy, but in the strict sense, the primary source of nuclear energy is non-renewable. Once a nuclear plant uses uranium fuel, the latter cannot be re-used.
As discussed above, the society has many choices as far as clean energy is concerned. It is, therefore, wise to choose renewable energy over its non-renewable counterparts in order to preserve our natural energy deposits for future generations, and limit the extent and effects of global warming.
The use of renewable energy sources will also lead to minimal atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, leading to a reduction of pollution. However, it is nearly impossible to reach a situation in which the world will be solely using renewable sources of energy to meet all its energy needs.
It is, therefore, imperative that the society strikes a balance between the use of renewable and non-renewable energy. For instance, at home, people can use natural gas for functions like water heating, and they can use wind or solar energy used for other energy needs.
From the discussion above, the main sources of clean energy include the sun, wind, water, biomass, and geothermal energy. In addition to these sources of clean energy, renewable and clean energy is also obtainable from oceanic waves and tides.
The reason why the aforementioned sources of energy come under the other sources category is because the produce minimal amounts of energy, and thus they cannot be relied on for power production. They normally act as back-ups for other sources of energy. For instance, tidal energy can back up nuclear energy.
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