Before we answer how renewable energy works, let us first understand what is renewable energy.
These types of energies come from natural resources that can be replenished. This means that it is not generated from something limited such as coal or oil.
It is commonly known as green energy or alternative energy resources. They will not run out of energy because there are abundant supplies in nature.
Some examples of green energy or renewable energies are water power, wind energy, biomass and solar energy.
How Renewable Energy Works
The concept is pretty straightforward. It will require a large amount of water such as rivers or lakes that have kinetic energy that will drive the turbine thereby converting it into mechanical energy. The turbine is connected to an electric generator to produce electricity.
A basic Hydropower consists of four (4) major parts: Dam, Turbine, Generator and Power Transmission Lines
The dam is built such that it will raise the water levels to significant heights. This is the key to increasing the kinetic and potential energies. It also serves as a gate control to the amount of water flow. The turbine spins as the falling water flows into it. This turning motion is connected to an electric generator which produces electric currents. The stored electric energies are delivered to cities or towns thru the power transmission lines.
Wind energy is a result of converting wind power to electricity thru the help of large turbines that are spun.
As the wind turns the turbine’s large blades, it turns the shaft that is connected to an electric rotor. This action and reaction thereby generates substantial amount of electricity. It is considered renewable because it can be repeated as long as there are strong winds within the area.
This type of green energy is still in the gray area that is subject for debate whether it belongs to renewable energy or not.
It works with the use of two major sources: Forest Products and Waste By-Products or Residues.
These two resources are used as alternative fuels to heat large hot water boilers or steam boilers. The steam energy will power the turbines that attached to an electric generator. Some may say that forest products such as wood chips, sawdust, bark or small diameter woods can be limited but generally it can be debatable.
On the other hand, the waste by-products or residues such manure, sludge, sewage and other degradable waste can be readily converted into electric energy in the form of Biogas.
Thanks to French scientist Edmond Becquerel for discovering in 1839 that certain types of materials can actually generate electricity when sunlight struck it.
This material is called Photo-Voltaic (PV) cell. It is a semiconductor material that converts Solar Energy to Electric Energy.
Today, there are three (3) known types of Solar Cells:
- Single Crystal Cells – most efficient type of solar cells that converts 23% to 30% of sunlight to electric current, but relatively costly because it requires more raw materials to build.
- Poly-Crystalline Cells – lower production cost as well as the performance to produce electricity is only up to 20%. Today it is the widely used PV in the mass market.
- Thin Film Cells – it is the cheapest photo-voltaic cells because it uses only spraying or depositing of materials unto the glass surfaces. It is considered to be the lowest performing PV thus only 10% of the market adapts it.
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