The first question to ask is what is renewable energy? To answer simply it is an energy source where the source of energy can be replenished at a higher rate than it is consumed. For example when the wind turbine turns it is the wind that is blowing it. There really is no limit of how much wind there is so the energy is converted from an infinite source. However, something not renewable is something like oil and gas. While these two substances can be naturally made it takes millions of years and thus cannot be created faster than the consumption of these fossil fuels. According to eia.gov 12% of the entire US energy production was renewable.
The first type of renewable energy is geothermal energy. To break down the word it means “earth heat.” There are 2 main types of geothermal energy: the first is literally using the heat emitted from the earth to cool your house. Heat moves in a very certain way, it moves from hot to cold through diffusion. What diffusion does is that the temperature will either increase or cool until the surrounding temperature has reached an equilibrium. In science there really is no such thing called “cold” , it is just less heat. What is heat you may ask, it is the movement of the atoms. So this stands to reason that cold is just that movement slowed down. So the idea of geothermal is that the cool ground is counteracting the heat of the outside and thus creating a cold equilibrium. The second part of geothermal has to do with hydrothermal where boiling water creates steam and following a tube is channeled to spin a fan thus generating energy.
The second type of renewable energy is Solar. Everybody has heard of solar power and how it can be harnessed by solar panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
The third type of renewable energy is hydroelectric energy. How hydroelectric energy is created when a large current of water flows and pushes magnets that spin. That spinning starts to create an electric current then the humans can use it.
The fourth type of renewable energy is wind. This is one of the most well known renewable energy sources. Everyone has seen those giant wind turbines. High winds turn the blades which move gears at high speeds. This then turns the generator generating energy then goes through the converter and out the bottom.
The final renewable energy source is biomass energy. All biomass is burnable and it’s actually the main way to convert the biomass into usable energy. However, there are still other ways to use biomass. The first is Pyrolysis, needing about 800-900*F after this process charcoal, methane, bio-oil, hydrogen, and renewable diesel is created. The next is Hydrotreating. This process uses the bio-oil and converts it into reusable diesel, jet fuel, and gasoline. Finally there is gasification. This process need the ingredients to be 1400 – 1700*F this process is needed to create a carbon monoxide and hydrogen rich gas called Syngas.
Overall there are many different types of renewable energies like biomass and geothermal. However, how does this affect us, the people around us, and the environment? This is only one of the many questions that society must ask itself in order to create a more environment friendly tomorrow.