Around the world, a clean revolution is underway as nations gradually but inexorably move towards renewables to meet their energy requirements. Also known as clean energy, renewables do not run out and are ideal replacements for unrenewable fossil fuels which pollute the environment.
On top of the fact that renewable energy can be integrated into the power grid without compromising reliability, the development and adoption of renewable energy can also enhance national security by reducing dependence on imports from oil or gas-rich nations. In this article, we highlight the top forms of renewable energy today.
One of the most well-known forms of renewable energy is solar energy. Photovoltaic (PV) cells transform sunlight directly into electricity which is used to power homes and businesses. On a large scale, solar farms with tens of thousands of solar panels can generate enough energy to power a small city.
Creative strategies allow solar farms to take up far less land than envisioned. For instance, at least one solar farm in Taiwan will see solar panels installed on poles and elevated over existing commercial fishing ponds. In a similar vein, Singapore has trialled the use of floating solar panels at reservoirs and even intends to deploy some at sea.
Furthermore, off-grid solar products offer a quick-fix solution to bring power to energy-poor areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. For example, Schneider Electric has used solar energy lamps to provide lighting to rural communities in East Asia as part of its Light It Up programme.
An idea adopted from the windmills of old, wind energy is another popular source of renewable energy. Marvels of precision engineering, modern wind turbines are housed within structures as tall as small skyscrapers.
The turbines are paired with an electric generator to harvest the tremendous kinetic energy in the wind. They are suitable for installation on open plains and flat terrain with strong winds, and represent the cheapest energy sources available.
Hydroelectric power relies on the movement of water as they flow from a higher plane to lower grounds to generate electricity. Unlike wind energy which can be subject to the vagaries of the weather, hydroelectric power plants can typically be relied on for power all year round.
There are downsides though, as the damming up of rivers for modern hydroelectric projects can degrade water quality and damage aquatic life. Environmental damage can also result as habitable land is flooded and water sources denied to animals.
Biomass is organic material originating from plants and animals, including crops and waste wood, that are burned as fuel to generate electricity. Traditional biofuels remain the largest source of renewables, accounting for some 60 to 70 percent of the total.
It must be pointed out that some forms of biomass can produce higher carbon emissions than burning fossil fuel, though waste products such as sawdust and chips from sawmills would otherwise decompose and release carbon into the atmosphere anyway.
Scientists are hard at work developing more renewable energy sources, including the harnessing of tidal energy from the ocean and advanced methods of accessing geothermal energy. Ultimately, the advancement of renewable energy to curb carbon emissions is a shared responsibility, which is why green energy-oriented companies like Schneider Electric have made it their business to help other corporations strategically achieve their global energy goals.
Determined to lead by example, Schneider Electric is on its own corporate mission to save the planet by using renewable energy. This blog entry by Amy Haddon of Schneider Electric explains how the company uses offsite Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to achieve its energy demand while reducing global warming.