Renewable energy is generating power using sustainable, environmentally-friendly sources. Research has shown that the effects of climate change, caused by industries such as meat, coal and oil, will be irreversible within 11 years. This has prompted a global shift towards renewable energy sources. While some countries are more successful than others, there are three main sources of renewable energies: hydropower, wind power and solar energy. This article will briefly explain the various methods of renewable energy production
Solar power is one of the oldest renewable energy sources, originally powering small devices such as watches and calculators. However, the potential of solar energy is being recognised by various countries, sparking a rise in solar farms across the globe. The largest solar farm in the world can be seen in the Sahara desert in Morocco. Noor power station covers over 6,000 acres and produces more than 1,000 gigawatt hours per year. The difficulties with solar energy are that a large amount of space is required to make it a worthwhile venture as well as storing the energy for long periods of time. In reply to this, innovative companies have developed windows which double as solar panels which could be used on skyscrapers in cities, feeding the power directly into the building and eliminating the need for storage.
Hydro power works by using water current to turn a turbine to generate electricity. Again, to make this method worthwhile, it has to be done on a larger scale. This prompted the invention of the Hydrodam. Working as a normal dam would, the hydrodam regulates water levels by blocking and allowing water to pass through when necessary but produces power in the process. The largest operational hydrodam can be seen in China. Three Gorges Dam has a capacity of 22,000 mw/h, almost 10,000 than the first runner up.
Wind power works in an identical way to hydro in that it uses wind to turn turbines to generate electricity. You might have driven past huge collections of windmills, or wind farms. Wind power has a lower capacity for energy production than the previous two. Another negative to wind power is that residents of rural areas often complain about them ruining the astentic of countrysides. Offshore wind farming acts as a compromise in this regard. Wind speeds are also higher offshore, making it a more efficient place to put them. China leads the way for wind energy production having lept from producing 2,599 mw/h in 2006 to 62,733mw/h in 2011.