Renewable energy contributed up to 43% power supply in the UK in the year 2020, with solar forming 28% of the total renewable fuel. However, fossils significantly dropped to 37.7% compared to the previous year. This is even as the drive to adopt clean energy sources intensifies to curb global warming. Renewable energy can play a vital role in the security and control of greenhouse gas emissions for sustainable development goals.
Below is a rundown of what you should know about renewable energy sources, types, pros, and cons.
Types of Renewable Energy
There are several types of renewable energy. They are not limited to solar energy, geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric energy.
The energy entails the heat and light from the sun and can be harnessed into different forms of energy. For example, the sun’s energy can be harnessed into photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity, passive solar heating that can heat the inside of a building, and solar thermal energy that can be utilized to make steam.
Pros of Solar Energy
- The energy is environmentally friendly
- Can save money in the long term after taking care of the initial installation costs
- Allows independence from other regulated energy types
- Solar panels are easy to maintain
Cons of Solar Energy
- Solar panels may fail to work for every home
- Release of greenhouse gasses during manufacturing of solar panels
- Initial installation costs may be high
This type of energy is generated from heat deep inside the earth. It is renewable since heat is continuously generated, and the heat can be used to heat buildings, bathing and generate electricity.
Pros of Geothermal Energy
- It’s a renewable source of energy
- Environmental friendly than conventional fuel sources since carbon production is low
- The rapid development of geothermal energy promises a reliable source due to advancements made each day
- Reliable energy and does not get depleted
Cons of Geothermal Energy
- Geothermal energy can only be generated in areas where there are no settlements, and it’s limited to specific areas
- Managing geothermal energy for sustainability can be challenging
- The generation of geothermal energy runs the risk of causing earthquakes which can end up causing severe disasters
- Upfront costs of tapping into geothermal energy are very high
This type of energy comes from wind power, which can generate electricity or mechanical power. The mechanical power, however, can be converted into electricity using generators.
Pros of Wind Energy
- The wind is a clean source of energy
- Wind supply is inexhaustible and can be a household source of power
- Careers that are a result of wind energy create jobs such as a wind expert electrician
- Wind power is cost-effective
Cons of Wind Energy
- Most strategic locations for wind power generation are located in far-flung remote areas where little electricity is needed
- Wind power generation can affect wildlife when birds fly directly into spinning turbines
- The utilization of large tracts of land to set wind power plants may not be the most effective way of utilizing lands
This method generates power from strong flowing water. The turbines then convert the energy of water into mechanical energy, which is then later harnessed into electricity.
Pros of Hydroelectric Energy
There are multiple advantages of renewable energy. They include:
- Excellent and safe for the environment. it doesn’t utilize any fossil fuels and does not produce any emissions
- It is a renewable source of energy, and due to the hydroelectric cycle, the energy source does not get depleted
- Efficient and highly reliable and is up to 90% efficient in converting water into electricity
Cons of Hydroelectric Energy
- The initial cost of building electric power plants is expensive
- The method of power production can be unpredictable since it depends on the local precipitation and whether
- Stored hydropower interrupts the natural flow of river systems, which affects those whose livelihoods depend on the rivers
Managing the Delivery of Energy in the UK
Most energy consumers have very little awareness of the hugely complex operation behind the 24/7 supply of electricity to households and businesses across Great Britain. One of the biggest ongoing challenges to the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) is phasing out traditional generating sources such as coal and gas power stations in favour of renewables - while maintaining a constant state of balance with demand.
Launched in 2002, the Balancing Mechanism is one of the tools National Grid uses to balance electricity supply and demand close to real-time. It is needed because the vast majority of electricity generated cannot be stored and therefore must be manufactured at the time of demand.
The Balancing Mechanism is used to balance supply and demand in 48 half-hour trading periods each day, with companies trading in the purchase and sale of electricity on demand.
Where National Grid predicts that there will be a discrepancy between the amount of electricity produced and that which will be in demand during a certain time period, the system operator may accept a ‘bid’ or ‘offer’ to either increase or decrease generation. So the next time you switch on your lights, think about the huge operation going on behind the scenes!