Top four types of renewable energy
Following are the four major types of renewable energy.
Energy obtained from the sun is called solar energy. Sun is the ultimate source for all of the energy sources and fuels that we use today.
“More energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year.” 3
There are three primary technologies by which solar energy is harnessed: photovoltaics (PV), which directly convert light to electricity; concentrating solar power (CSP), which uses heat from the sun (thermal energy) to drive utility-scale, electric turbines; and solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems, which collect thermal energy to provide hot water and air heating or conditioning. “Solar supplies a little more than 1 percent of U.S. electricity generation.” 4
The wind is also an abundant source of renewable energy. The wind is used to generate electricity using the kinetic energy of air in motion(wind). This is transformed into electrical energy using turbines.“Global installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore has increased by a factor of almost 75 in the past two decades, jumping from 7.5 gigawatts (GW) in 1997 to some 564 GW by 2018, according to IRENA's latest data.” 5
Hydro-power is the energy generated from water and is one of the most commercially developed sources of energy. It was one of the first sources of energy used for electricity generation. Hydro-power provides benefits beyond electricity generation by providing flood control, irrigation support, and clean drinking water.
Geothermal energy is heat within the Earth. It is environment-friendly, renewable and sustainable, reliable, great for heating and cooling, and has massive potential. Geysers, hot springs, steam vents, underwater hydrothermal vents, and mud pots are all sources of geothermal energy. The steam generated by them is used to produce electricity. “The global geothermal electricity market is expected to grow from $5.53 billion in 2021 to $6.06 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6%.” 6
Advanced technologies as new renewable energy sources
Here are some of the new technologies which are being used to produce and store energy.
In the modern age, clean energy has been quite a concern as awareness of sustainability has increased. Graphene-based devices can provide clean energy with theoretically zero waste emission. Graphene allows batteries to last for more charge cycles and to charge more quickly, leading to efficient, long-lasting batteries. New graphene applications include electric/photonics circuits, solar cells, and various medical, chemical, and industrial processes enhanced or enabled by the use of new graphene materials.
Small modular nuclear reactors:
Small modular reactors harness thermal energy to generate electrical power. SMRs can generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity which is enough electricity to power approximately 230,000 homes a year. But there is a downfall of using SMRs as they also produce many kinds of radioactive nuclear waste, as the reactors are smaller in size and because of the refueling practices adopted for economic reasons.
Fission vs Fusion technology:
Fission is used in nuclear power reactors since it can be controlled, while fusion is not utilized to produce power since the reaction is not easily controlled(a chain reaction could start) and is expensive to create the necessary conditions for a fusion reaction. Some scientists believe there are opportunities to use fusion technology to generate electricity. Fusion offers an appealing opportunity since fusion creates less radioactive material than fission and has a nearly unlimited fuel supply.
Battery storage systems:
A battery energy storage system is an electrochemical device that collects energy from a power plant and later discharges that energy to provide electricity. Other applications include storing energy from renewable resources, photovoltaics, wind-driven generators, and small hydro facilities. Battery Storage Systems helps to continue the power supply process efficiently, enabling electricity to flow from a project even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing.
Companies working on renewable energy include:
Given below is a sample of interesting companies working on renewable sources of energy.
Atonometrics develops test and measurement technology for the Solar PhotoVoltaics industry.
Technology company that builds software for distributed solar solutions and storage applications.
Brookfield Renewable Partners:
Brookfield Renewable Partners L.P. is a publicly-traded limited partnership with a market capitalization of $10.7 billion that owns and operates renewable power assets, with corporate headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
CubicPV Inc. (former 1366 Technologies Inc.):
CubicPV offers silicon solar cell manufacturing equipment for photovoltaic technology products.
China's comprehensive solar energy directory provides buyers and sellers with in-depth photovoltaic company information.
Equinor is an international energy company, developing oil, gas, wind, and solar energy in more than 30 countries.
First Solar, Inc. is an American manufacturer of solar panels with a market capitalization of $10.1 billion, and a provider of utility-scale PV power plants and supporting services that include finance, construction, maintenance, and end-of-life panel recycling.
NextEra Energy, Inc. is an American energy company with about 14,900 employees throughout the US and Canada. It is the largest electric utility holding company by market capitalization ($169.3 billion).
OMNIDEA is developing energy systems based on High Altitude Wind Energy conversion.
SN Power AS:
SN Power invests in clean and renewable energy, its primary focus is hydropower.
TURBULENT develops affordable, efficient, and smart micro-hydro power plants to deliver clean and decentralized energy.
The use of Renewable sources of energy has many advantages. It not only reduces pollution but also leads to reduced dependence on imported fuels. In addition, it creates jobs in manufacturing, installation, and many more sectors. It has also provided us with a cheaper source of energy. Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that Africa could run on 100% renewable energy by 2050.
1 NRDC's Annual Energy Reports, Report by Ralph Cavanagh & Amanda Levin & Sophia Ptacek (December 02, 2020).
2 Global Energy Review 2021, Assessing the effects of economic recoveries on global energy demand and CO2 emissions in 2021.
3 From the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
4 U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis.
5 The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organization mandated to facilitate cooperation, advance knowledge, and promote the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy.
6 From Geothermal Electricity Global Market Report 2022.