Not all renewable energies are created equal. Some are more developed and have a smaller environmental impact than others. With the variety of renewable energy technologies on the rise, how do you know which solutions to support?
Most energy that we produce globally is nonrenewable, coming from sources such as fossil fuel and coal. These sources are considered nonrenewable because their supplies are limited to the amount that we can extract.
Renewable energy, on the other hand, comes from sources which are inextinguishable because they are naturally replenished day-to-day: the sun, water, wind, and heat from the centre of the earth are just a few examples.
Many people may think that using renewable energy is a new concept, but that’s not the case. From grinding grain with water mills to using wind to move ships across oceans, humans have been harvesting naturally recurring energy sources for thousands of years. The technology that we have to harvest these energy sources, however, is constantly being developed and improved upon.
The six most popular sources of renewable energy currently are solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass.
Not all renewable energy sources are created equal. Some are more developed and have a smaller environmental impact than others. The renewable energy sector requires more investment and innovation to further the development of these technologies to meet growing demand. Here’s what you need to know:
The sun is one of the most common and plentiful sources of energy: the earth receives enough energy from the sun in just one hour to meet all of its energy needs for one year.
Although it may seem like the perfect energy source—especially considering it should keep on shining for another few billion years—the amount of sunlight we can convert into usable energy largely depends on the time of day, the season of the year, and geographic location. This makes the supply of solar energy inconsistent. There is still some required progress to create technology which can store solar energy when there’s no sun and how to use renewable energies for different purposes, such as transportation. Investing in renewable energy projects can help speed this along.
Wind energy is the most established and efficient renewable energy source used today, as one may notice by the increasing number of wind turbines! Wind power comes from converting the energy produced by the movement of wind turbine blades driven by the wind into energy, which can be converted to electricity via special generators.
Wind power is on the rise globally: costs are falling and technology is developing rapidly. Unfortunately, the wind is also unpredictable, and because it can blow at different speeds, it can be hard to predict the amount of energy that can be generated. As with all other energy supplies, wind power can result in potentially negative impacts on the environment, including reducing wildlife habitats or contributing to noise pollution. This is one of the reasons it’s extremely important to rely on expert climate advisors when choosing wind projects to support.
Using the forces of water is one of the oldest forms of harvesting natural energy. As a renewable energy resource, hydropower is one of the most common and is more consistent than solar energy, especially that produced from a flowing river. It works by controlling the flow of water, such as by building a dam, which drives a turbine, generating electricity.
Not all hydropower is renewable though. Large hydroelectric plants, often known as ‘mega dams’, are often harmful to local environments as they divert and/or reduce natural water flows. Renewable energy sources should be sustainable and non-harmful to communities and the environment.
Tidal energy is another form of hydro energy, produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides. Oceans are ruled by the moon’s gravity, making twice-daily tidal movements predictable and ensuring sustainability.
Tidal energy production is not widely in use at the moment, most likely because it’s a new technology which has a high set-up cost. There are also additional concerns about the environmental impact of tidal energy plants, especially with ‘tidal barrages’ that act like dams and may harm wildlife. Much work is still needed to reduce the potential negative environmental impacts of tidal energy generators and to decrease initial costs. High-impact renewable energy climate projects that support tidal energy should never be harmful to local environments.
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource because it’s constantly being replenished beneath the surface of the earth. Humans and animals have long enjoyed this energy in the form of naturally heated springs and pools around the world!
The centre of the earth’s core is as hot as the surface of the sun, and some of that heat escapes to the earth’s surface. This is a great type of energy to harness since it doesn’t depend on weather conditions as wind or solar energy production does.
Geothermal energy can be used directly for uses like heat generation for buildings or greenhouses. Another use is to generate electricity, which is only recently becoming more common with the development of the required technologies.
Biomass is an organic, renewable material that is made from plants and animals, such as crop and agricultural residues, wood, animal manure, sewage, trash, and vegetable oils. Biomass energy is created by the burning of biomass. This was one of the most common forms of energy before fossil fuels and is still used in many countries for cooking and heating.
Because using biomass fundamentally requires the burning of organic materials, there have been environmental concerns. However, the process is becoming much cleaner and more energy-efficient year-by-year thanks to advances in technology and practice. It’s important to consider what type of biomass is being harvested and to mitigate the negative impact through actions like responsible forest management.
There are other sources of energy created from organic matter, such as biodiesel, bioethanol, and biogas. By taking materials which would otherwise be waste and converting them into sources of energy, we can produce readily available sources of energy which come with a much smaller environmental cost.
As research and technology advance and policies develop, renewable energy can only get better and help create a long-lasting positive impact on the environment.
The path to sustainability requires everyone’s participation, including businesses of all levels, but choosing renewable energy projects for your company to support can be difficult.
If you’re using a trusted carbon offsetting partner like CHOOOSE, you will be provided with a high-quality, third-party portfolio of certified carbon offset projects that you can plug into your carbon compensation programme. These projects can be renewable energy, community-based projects, or nature-based solutions.
Our expert carbon advisory team reviews successful carbon offsetting projects with documented impact around the globe, works with project teams to understand ongoing needs, and selects the best fit for our partners’ specific needs.
Book a demo of CHOOOSE Connect to see how fast and easy it is to connect your customers to high-impact renewable energy climate projects today!