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Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY


Those sources of energy which are renewable in nature are called renewable sources of energy. The renewable sources are generally pollution-free. Solar energy, hydel energy, wind energy, tidal energy, etc. are renewable sources of energy. Those sources of energy whose formation takes millions of years and which are limited in supply are called non-renewable sources of energy. Non-renewable sources create heavy pollution. Coal, petroleum, natural gas, etc. are non-renewable sources of energy. The advantage of such classification of energy sources is that it helps us to decide about the conservation of available energy sources for future generation. It also helps us in development of alternative sources of energy accelerating the scope for the development of appropriate technology The main sources of renewable energy are discussed below: Wind Energy Sun's energy is the main factor responsible for the movement of air. Moving air is called wind and it possesses kinetic energy. Windmills, invented 250 years ago by Persians, are once again gaining popularity. Modern windmills convert wind energy into either mechanical energy or electrical energy. A windmill consists of a fan-like structure mounted at some height on a strong support. Its blades are so designed that when wind strikes them, a pressure difference is created between them. This difference produces a turning effect and makes them rotate. The height of the windmill, the number of blades and their shape, etc. are decided on the basis of average wind velocity and local environmental factors. The rotational motion of the windmill is utilised to obtain mechanical work like in a water-lifting pump. If a turbine is connected to the windmill, electricity can be generated but the electricity generated by one windmill cannot be used commercially. To generate a large amount of electricity, a wind energy farm is established where there are several windmills erected in a large area. In Gujarat, wind-energy farms are located at following places: Lamba near Porbandar, Okha, Mandavi and Dhank. The largest wind farm in India is near Kanyakumari in Tamilnadu and it generates 300 MW electricity. The greatest advantage of wind-energy farms is that the electricity is generated from a renewable source and it is pollution-free. Limitations: 1. 2. 3. 4. Wind energy farms can be established only at places with continuous flow of wind. The average wind velocity should be 16 km/h to enable its working. It requires a large area of land and cost of installation is very high. It creates noise pollution.

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Hydroelectric Energy

Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

The electricity generated by moving the turbines of a generator using the energy of flowing water (or falling water) is called hydroelectric energy or hydel energy. During rain or snowfall, the potential energy of water molecules is converted into kinetic energy. When ice at higher altitudes melts, its gravitational potential energy is converted in to kinetic energy and it flows as a stream of water or as a river. If we store rainwater by constructing a dam, the water has higher potential energy. When this water is allowed to fall from a height, its potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. This kinetic energy of flowing water can be used to rotate the turbine blades along with the armature of electric generator to produce electricity. There are a number of large hydroelectric power stations in India, famous ones being at Bhakra Dam, Hirakund Dam and Narmada Sarover Dams. Mini hydroelectric power plants can be constructed in hilly regions or at small dams if the water falls from the height of at least 10 meters. Advantages: 1. 2. Once completed, the hydroelectric power station needs only maintenance and proper management which is not much costly. A dam constructed for hydroelectric power station can also be used for irrigation and it helps prevent floods. Limitations: 1. 2. The cost of installation (construction) of a hydroelectric power station is very high. The requirement of a large area for constructing the dam leads to destruction of forests and causes a great ecological imbalance. Tidal Energy The level of water near the seacoast changes twice a day. This everyday movement of water along the seashore is known as tides. A high tide occurs on every new moon day and on a full moon day. During the tide the water level rises by a few meters. The energy possessed by the rising and falling water is known as tidal energy. A dam is constructed across a narrow opening of a sea. The tide water moves in and out through the openings and flows over the turbines fixed inside the walls of the dam. The movement of turbines generates electricity. Tides are not uniform and the rise and fall of water is not large enough to generate electricity on a large scale. Also, there are a very few sites where we find a narrow opening suitable for a dam. Tidal energy is an indirect form of solar energy. Wind possesses tremendous kinetic energy and causes waves in the oceans. The height of such waves is great when the wind velocity is high. Such waves can be used to generate electricity by rotating turbines using their energy. The greatest limitation of this method is that the location of turbine and other equipment is in the sea. They require a lot of maintenance and replacement. This makes them costlier.

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Geothermal Energy

Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

Geothermal energy is the energy obtained from the heat of the earth. Geothermal energy does not depend directly or indirectly on solar energy. The interior region of the earth below its crust is very hot and it consists of molten rocks called 'magma'. Magma is in semi-solid state. The geological changes push this semi-liquid magma towards upper surface and it gets collected at some depth below the surface of the earth. These places are called 'hot spots'. Hot spots are considered as the sources of geothermal energy. When the underground water comes in contact with such hot spots, it turns into steam which is trapped in the space between rocks and becomes compressed due to high pressure. This steam can be collected by introducing pipes after drilling holes. These pipes reach up to the depth of hot spots. The steam coming up through the pipes can be used to run turbines. Sometimes the steam finds its way through the cracks in the crust and comes up to the surface in the form of geysers. The steam from such geysers has the temperature of about 150 -200C. Geothermal energy is an eco-friendly source of energy and the cost of electricity generated from it is almost half that of the electricity generated using conventional methods. A large number of geysers are found in USA and New Zealand but we have limited places in India for geothermal energy. In Gujarat, we have geysers at places like Unai, Tulsi Shyam in Saurashtra, and Lasundra and Tuva villages in Godhra District. Advantages: 1. 2. 3. This energy is available throughout the year. The cost of production is comparatively low. It is eco-friendly, i.e. pollution-free.

Solar Energy: Solar energy is the most readily available source of energy. It does not belong to anybody and is, therefore, free. It is also the most important of the non-conventional sources of energy because it is non-polluting and, therefore, helps in lessening the greenhouse effect. Solar energy has been used since prehistoric times, but in a most primitive manner. Before 1970, some research and development was carried out in a few countries to exploit solar energy more efficiently, but most of this work remained mainly academic. After the dramatic rise in oil prices in the 1970s, several countries began to formulate extensive research and development programmes to exploit solar energy. India is one of the few countries with long days and plenty of sunshine, especially in the Thar Desert region. This zone, having abundant solar energy available, is suitable for harnessing solar energy for a number of applications. In areas with similar intensity of solar radiation, solar energy could be easily harnessed. Solar thermal energy is being used in India for heating water for both industrial and domestic purposes. A 140 MW integrated solar power plant is to be set up in Jodhpur but the initial expense incurred is still very high.

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Solar Devices: (I) Solar Cells

Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

Solar cell is a device that converts solar energy directly into electrical energy. Earlier, it was observed that when solar rays fall on a thin wafer of selenium, electricity is generated. A solar cell made of selenium wafer converts only 0.7% of solar energy into electrical energy which is very small output and hence impracticable for generating electricity. The first solar cell made in 1954 could convert about 1% of incident solar energy into electricity. Modern solar cells most commonly made from semi-metal silicon can have efficiency of up to 25%. Silicon is easily available and is eco-friendly. A typical solar cell consisting of a 2 x 2 cm square piece of pure silicon can produce about 0.7 watt electricity with about 10% efficiency. This electricity is quite small and to get large amount of electricity several solar cells are connected together in series. This arrangement is called Solar Panel. Advantages: 1. 2. Solar cells provide eco-friendly environment. Solar cells can be used anywhere as a self-generating source of electricity.

Limitations: 1. 2. 3. 4. Uses: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. In artificial satellites. In radio wireless transmission. In TV transmission. In traffic signals and research centres. In calculators and watches. In solar cars. The availability of the special grade silicon required for making solar cells is very limited. The cost of connecting material used in solar panels is very high as it is generally silver. The current produced by solar cells is direct current (DC) and it has to be converted to alternating current (AC) for some devices. This involves high cost and loss of efficiency. The conventional method of storing solar energy in storage batteries is not efficient enough.

(II) Solar Cooker Solar cooker is a device that uses solar energy in the form of heat for cooking food. Solar cooker consists of a container box whose body is made up of non-conducting plastic or fibrous material and insulated from outside to prevent heat loss. A plane mirror is fixed on the top of the box in such a way that it reflects sun rays into the box. Solar cooker contains small containers painted black externally to absorb heat. The box is covered with a glass-sheet to retain the heat inside due to greenhouse effect. This heat develops about 100-140C temperature inside the box within 2-3 hours when placed in sunrays. This type of cooker can be used to prepare food items like rice, dal, pulses, vegetables, etc.

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Advantages: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. There is no combustion of fuel. Maintenance is negligible. It is pollution-free.

Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

The natural taste of the food is maintained as it conserves all nutrients. During the preparation of food no personal attention is needed.

Limitations: 1. 2. Food cannot be cooked on a cloudy day or in absence of direct sunlight It takes very long time for cooking

Biomass Biomass (plant material) is a renewable energy source because the energy it contains comes from the sun. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants capture the sun's energy. When the plants are burnt, they release the sun's energy they contain. In this way, biomass functions as a sort of natural battery for storing solar energy. As long as biomass is produced sustainably, with only as much used as is grown, the battery will last indefinitely. In general there are two main approaches to using plants for energy production: growing plants specifically for energy use (known as first and third-generation biomass), and using the residues (known as second-generation biomass) from plants that are used for other things. Biofuel Biofuels include a wide range of fuels which are derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Liquid biofuels include bioalcohols, such as bioethanol, and oils, such as biodiesel. Gaseous biofuels include biogas, landfill gas and synthetic gas. Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. With advanced technology being developed, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, are also used as feed stocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil. However, according to the European Environment Agency, biofuels do not address global warming concerns. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is the most common biofuel in Europe. Biofuels provided 2.7% of the world's transport fuel in 2010.

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Ocean energy

Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

Systems to harvest utility-scale electrical power from ocean waves have recently been gaining momentum as a viable technology. The potential for this technology is considered promising, especially on west-facing coasts with latitudes between 40 and 60 degrees. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Carbon Trust recently estimated the extent of the economically viable offshore resource at 55 TWh per year, about 14% of current national demand. Across Europe, the technologically achievable resource has been estimated to be at least 280 TWh per year. In 2003, the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimated the viable resource in the United States at 255 TWh per year (6% of demand). Scotland is home to the European Marine Energy Centre the world's first testing facility for wave and tidal machines, located in the waters around the Orkney Islands. The world's first commercial tidal stream generator was installed in 2007 in the narrows of Strangford Lough in Ireland. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) uses the temperature difference that exists between deep and shallow waters to run a heat engine. Synthetic fuels Synthetic fuels can be produced by hydrogenating waste carbon dioxide recycled from power plant flue-gas emissions, recovered from automotive exhaust gas, or derived from carbonic acid in seawater. Commercial fuel synthesis companies suggest they can produce synthetic fuels for less than petroleum fuels when oil costs more than $55 per barrel. Synthetic fuels offer relatively low cost long term energy storage, alleviating the problems of wind and solar intermittency, and enabling distribution of wind, water, and solar power through existing natural gas pipelines. Nighttime wind power is considered the most economical form of electrical power with which to synthesize fuel, because the load curve for electricity peaks during the warmest hours of the day, but wind tends to be greater at night than during the day, so, the price of nighttime wind power is often much less expensive than any alternative. Germany has built a 250 kilowatt synthetic methane plant which they are scaling up to 10 megawatts. The least expensive source of carbon for recycling into fuel is flue-gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion where it can possibly be extracted for about USD $7.50 per ton. Carbonic acid can be extracted from seawater where it is in chemical equilibrium with atmospheric carbon dioxide, at about $50 per ton of CO2. Renewable energy debate Renewable electricity production, from sources such as wind power and solar power, is sometimes criticized for being variable or intermittent. However, the International Energy Agency has stated that deployment of renewable technologies usually increases the diversity of electricity sources and, through local generation, contributes to the flexibility of the system and its resistance to central shocks.

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Environment
Renewable Sources of Energy

There have been "not in my back yard" (NIMBY) concerns relating to the visual and other impacts of some wind farms, with local residents sometimes fighting or blocking construction. In the USA, the Massachusetts Cape Wind project was delayed for years partly because of aesthetic concerns. However, residents in other areas have been more positive and there are many examples of community wind farm developments. According to a town councilor, the overwhelming majority of locals believe that the Ardrossan Wind Farm in Scotland has enhanced the area. The market for renewable energy technologies has continued to grow. Climate change concerns, coupled with high oil prices, peak oil, and increasing government support, are driving increasing renewable energy legislation, incentives and commercialization. New government spending, regulation and policies helped the industry weather the 2009 economic crisis better than many other sectors.

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