As the world has become more and more aware of the impact it creates on the environment, it is increasingly transitioning from conventional resources to renewable alternatives. In the last 30 years, research and development for sustainable energy resources has exploded, yielding promising new technologies that can reduce our dependence on coal, oil, and natural gas. The green energy market is gaining fast potential is developing a sustainable future. Green energy is the solution to greater sustainability in our power grid. But what is green energy, and what makes it a better option than fossil fuels?
What Is Green Energy?
Green energy is generated from natural sources such as sunlight, water, wind, rain, tides, plants, and geothermal heat. These resources are naturally replenished and renewable, as opposed to fossil fuels which are a finite resource which takes millions of years to develop and is now at the edge of scarcity. Many people switch to green energy to help the environment and do their part in taking their carbon footprint down a notch or two.
The sun provides the earth with more than enough energy to power the entire planet every day. There are different ways to go green on energy. We all know the benefits of recycling and upcycling which should be valued more. With the decrease in demand for raw materials, the stress on the environment will also be reduced. High rise buildings can benefit from wind energy. High up, wind become a lot stronger and with a turbine on top, it can be a wind-powered building, preserving natural resources. It makes sense to get green energy into your home using solar power through panels, wind energy with turbines, taking an even easier route, and getting a green energy provider and switch over to green energy sources for a low, fixed rate.
Types of Green Energy
Green energy comes from a wide variety of natural resources, each of which is better suited for specific environment or region, and hence, there are so many renewable energy that filter into the energy grid.
- Solar Energy: The sun is a clean source of energy, which produces an unimaginable amount of energy via nuclear fusion – smaller atoms are fused together by heat and pressure to create heavier atoms – with a whole lot of energy emitted in the process. This energy reaches us by solar radiation and is collected and converted into usable electricity. Most commonly, solar panels are used to harvest solar energy. These are formed of photovoltaic cells which are created using semiconductor material. When the light from the sun hits these cells, creating an electrical current through photoelectric effect, which is then converted into an alternating current. From here it can be used to power your home or added to the electric grid mix.
- Wind Energy: This is one of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies. It produces electricity using kinetic energy created by air in motion. This transformation is done by using large wind turbines, set in both onshore and offshore wind farms. When wind hits a turbine’s blades, it causes them to rotate and turn the turbine connected to them. This changes the kinetic energy to rotational energy, by moving a shaft that is connected to a generator, and thereby producing electrical energy through electromagnetism. Though wind may seem powerful, expansive wind farms are necessary to generate enough electricity to make an impact.
- Hydroelectric Energy: This form of energy (also known as hydroelectric power) harnesses the power of flowing water to generate electricity. Hydroelectric power plants have reservoirs or dams, a gate or valve to control the flow of water, and an outlet where the water ends up after flowing downward. Water gains potential energy as it is stored higher up in the dam which forces the water to flow at an incredible speed, gaining kinetic energy. This is used to spin the blades of a turbine which activates a generator, creating electricity.
- Biogas: Popularly known as a ‘greener fuel’, biogas is not only a green energy source but also the one that makes use of our waste products. It is a by-product of organic decomposed matter, such as sewage, food, agricultural waste, and manure. These are compressed in large containers without oxygen, causing them to ferment and produce methane and carbon dioxide along with other gases. Combustion of methane transforms it into heat and carbon dioxide, which can then be harvested to produce energy.
- Biomass: This is a type of renewable energy material that comes from both plants and animals. It contains stored chemical energy from the sun, which can be burned directly for heat or converted to renewable liquid or gaseous fuels through various processes such as direct combustion, thermochemical conversion, biological conversion, and chemical conversion. Biomass sources for energy include agricultural crops and waste products, biogenic materials among urban solid waste, animal manure and human sewage, and wood and wood processing waste.
- Geothermal Energy: This form of energy is produced by using steam that comes from massive amount of thermal energy found miles below the surface of the earth. The steam rotates a turbine that activates a generator, thus producing electricity.
Green Energy is a Change
We have relied on fossil materials like coal, oil, etc. for centuries in order to generate energy. These fuels expel pollution into the environment – pouring toxic gases, impacting general health, and causing respiratory issues and reducing live expectancies, which have contributed to global warming, further impacting the earth’s atmosphere adversely. Green energy help us mitigate, if not all, some of the issues – diminishing the use of fossil materials, reducing carbon emissions, preventing further environmental harm, creating jobs by providing opportunities for investing in green energy, etc.
The importance of looking at sustainable and renewable alternatives have been on the rise. Renewable energy sources enter the power grid and are indistinguishable from conventional energy sources. The green energy market is growing at a robust rate and demand for adopting green energy has been on the rise. When you buy green power, you’re also supporting various renewable energy projects and the investment in technologies that help them grow. Going green means more funding to solar, wind, and other renewable projects, creating technologies to harness the renewable sources around us better. It also makes them more affordable and accessible to everyone. We’re all in charge of the future of the earth and green energy is going to be a big part of that future.