What is a renewable energy resource?
Renewable energy is energy that comes from the earth’s natural resources. It is energy that is not finite or exhaustible such as coal, but able to replenish itself – examples include wind and sunlight. Renewable energy is also much less harmful to the environment, making it an important resource to familiarise yourself with when it comes to adopting greener building practices and becoming a net-zero business.
The 7 types of renewable energy
Solar energy works by capturing radiant energy from sunlight and converting it into heat, electricity, or hot water. This is achieved through the use of solar cells. One of the major benefits of using solar energy is that sunlight is functionally endless. In other words, there is a limitless supply of it. Relying on solar energy also helps to improve public health and environmental conditions. In the long term, switching to solar can eliminate your energy costs and in the short term, it can help you save on your monthly energy bills.
Wind energy is captured using turbines that convert wind flow into electricity. Technically, wind energy is a form of solar energy and it is a clean energy source. This means that it doesn’t pollute the air like other forms of energy. It also doesn’t produce carbon dioxide nor does it release any harmful products that may result in environmental degradation or negatively affect human health.
Hydroelectric power is most often associated with dams. It is created when water flows through a dam’s turbines to produce electricity, known as pumped-storage hydropower. One of the major benefits of hydroelectric power is that it is very versatile – it can be generated for both large and small scale projects. Hydroelectric power is also beneficial in that it does not produce pollution making it a much more environmentally-friendly energy option.
Geothermal heat is heat that is trapped beneath the earth’s crust. Sometimes large amounts of this heat escape naturally, causing volcanic eruptions and geysers. By using steam that comes from the heated water pumping below the surface, this heat can be captured and used to produce geothermal energy. Although it is not a common form of renewable energy, it has significant potential for energy supply because it can be stored underground it leaves a minimal footprint on the land and it is naturally replenished.
Energy from the ocean can be divided into two categories: thermal and mechanical. Ocean thermal energy uses the warm water on the surface to generate energy through a variety of different systems, while ocean mechanical energy uses the ebbs and flows of the tides to generate energy. Unlike other forms of renewable energy, wave energy is predictable, making it easy to estimate the amount of energy that will be produced. It is also abundant and its potential is astounding. It is still an untapped energy resource but experts believe it has the potential to produce 2640 TWh/yr.
Energy from hydrogen can be used for both fuel and electricity however, it needs to be combined with other elements as it does not occur naturally as a gas on its own. It is a clean-burning fuel which means less pollution and a cleaner environment. It is also beneficial when used for fuel cells and can be used to power an electric motor.
Bioenergy is a renewable energy derived from an organic matter that comes from recently living plants and organisms. Burning wood in your fireplace is one example of biomass – and because plant matter can be regrown, it is a renewable source of energy. Biomass can be used to create energy in several different ways but the most common is combustion. This means burning agricultural waste or woody materials to heat water and produce steam.
Why is renewable energy important?
Renewable energy is important as it not only provides a reliable power supply but also fuel diversification. Renewable energy also helps to conserve natural resources. Whereas fossil fuels create a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that negatively impact global warming, most sources of renewable energy reduce carbon emissions.
How much of UK energy is renewable?
Renewable energy produces more than 20% of the UK’s electricity supply and EnAppSys predicts that if current trends continue, renewables will be the top UK power source in 2020. This is because of the target from the UK’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive that aims for 32% of the country’s energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030.
Renewable energy: what can you do?
As a business, you have several opportunities to make an impact on improving the environment by opting for greener energy solutions. Smarter Business helps companies transform their energy management with energy monitoring systems that let you see how much water, gas, and electricity is being consumed in your daily business operations.
By managing and monitoring your energy usage and portfolio with cloud-based systems you can quickly and accurately track your energy usage patterns. Regular reporting on these statistics will also help you to identify energy cost-saving opportunities which will improve your profitability and competitiveness as a result. Smarter Business offers two proprietary energy management systems – Dataview and Openview.
We also work with a number of ‘green’ energy suppliers so that we can set you up with a renewably-sourced energy contract.