Green energy represents types of energy that derive from renewable sources such as the sun and wind. These natural resources are captured through green energy generation technology and turned into usable energy that we can use to power our homes, businesses and cars in much the same way fossil-based fuels have been used.
There are two important differences between green energy and fossil fuels. The first is that fossil fuels are finite. They aren’t renewable in the same sense that green energy sources naturally reoccur because fossil fuels derive from dead organisms whose usable form of energy comes from millions of years of decomposition. Fossil fuels will eventually run out.
In comparison, green energy sources will not run out. As long as the sun is shining, the oceans maintain their tidal clocks, and the movement of air creates wind, green energy has resources it can continually capture, process and utilise on an infinite scale.
The second difference between green energy and fossil fuels is equally important. The process of burning fossil fuels to create usable energy creates harmful greenhouse gases that are causing global environmental trauma.
The greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life on earth but through global warming we are causing the earth’s temperature to unnaturally rise. This is leading to a number of global problems such as an increase in extreme, life-threatening weather conditions and rising sea levels causing more flooding.
To help combat global warming, green energy is one of the ways we can reduce our harmful impact on the earth’s atmosphere. That’s because green energy technologies such as solar (sourced from the sun) and hydropower (sourced from the earth’s water cycle) have a much smaller harmful impact on the environment.
Green energy is therefore renewable and environmentally friendly. Coinciding with the international community increasing its efforts to utilise green energy, this form of energy generation is also becoming more accessible and affordable. And with research and development continuing at pace, the evolution of green energy will see it become a key driver at work and at home.
What are the types of Green Energy?
There are several types of green energy generated from renewable, naturally occurring sources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat. Other sources include types of moving water other than the ocean’s tides and organic plant and waste material.
These reoccurring resources are used in green energy technology such as solar panels which capture sunlight and turn it into electricity or biomass which uses waste such as wood and combustible agricultural materials.
Common types of Green Energy
Wind power is notable because most people know that it exists even if they haven’t considered its potential. Across the country you’ll see wind turbines drawing energy from the motion of the air pushing the turbines. Wind turbines can be found on land (onshore) or out at sea (offshore), their implementation being best suited to sites where winds have been known to be most powerful – for example, at high altitude regions or at sea.
Solar power is perhaps the most well-known form of renewable energy. Solar power draws energy from sunlight, typically producing electricity through the use of photovoltaic cells. Solar energy can be used to provide electricity into a building. Alternatively, solar thermal utilises the free, renewable heat from the sun to warm water for use in a building.
Geothermal energy has, in different forms, being used for millennia by humans. Naturally occurring hot springs have been used for bathing, for example. Geothermal energy is essentially heat naturally generated by the earth and it is now being harnessed to produce electricity. Research in America has shown that there is enough geothermal energy underground to produce 10 times as much electricity as coal.
In the UK, like most places around the globe, the upper 10 feet of the Earth’s surface – the shallow ground – maintains a temperature between 10° and 16°C. For homes and offices, geothermal heat pumps can be used to tap into this source of heat to warm and cool buildings. In the winter, heat is removed from stores underground to provide building warmth. In the summer the process is reversed and heat is removed to be stored in the heat exchanger. This reserved heat can also be used to warm water.
Hydropower or hydroelectricity is green energy generated from the earth’s water cycle such as capturing the movement of the ocean’s tides, rainfall and the force of water running through a dam.
Biomass uses waste such as wood and combustible agricultural materials to create energy. Wood energy can derive from harvested wood as a fuel and from waste wood. Municipal waste, manufacturing waste, and landfill gas are examples of biomass waste sources. Although it emits harmful carbon emissions similar to fossil-based fuels, it has been classified as renewable and therefore offers an alternative, infinite resource over finite fossil fuels.
Similar to biomass, waste materials can be used as a fuel to power vehicles. These types of biofuels are increasingly prevalent within the transport sector which produces high amounts of harmful carbon through its operations. Uptake is increasing in line with the evolution of vehicles capable of delivering performance that meets or exceeds levels achieved with fossil fuels such as diesel.
Why Green Energy?
Because green energy utilises energy sources that are accessible all over the world, including in rural and remote places that don’t otherwise have access to electricity, it’s vital to support sustainable life on earth.
Technological advances, which continue apace, have made green energy more readily available, lowered the cost of such common technologies as solar panels and wind turbines, and lessened the burden on fossil fuels to provide our energy needs.