Basic Things You Should Know About Renewable Energy And Its Importance

I'd like to post this basic information about sources of energy since not all of us know where our energy comes from and its forms. What are the effects to our environment when an energy is produced and used and why it is important to conserve!

Sources of Energy:

1. Renewable energy
is an energy generated from natural resources which are renewable (naturally replenished) or can never be exhausted.

We can obtain renewable energy from the sun (solar energy), from the water (hydropower), from the wind (windmills), from hot dry rocks, magma, hot water springs (geothermal) and even from firewood, animal manure, crop residues and waste (Biomass).

In 2006, about 18% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13% coming from traditional biomass, such as wood-burning. Hydroelectricity was the next largest renewable source, providing 3% (15% of global electricity generation), followed by solar hot water/heating, which contributed 1.3%. Modern technologies, such as geothermal energy, wind power, solar power, and ocean energy together provided some 0.8% of final energy consumption.

2. Non-renewable energy comes from sources that can’t be replenished in a short period of time. We get most of our energy from nonrenewable energy sources, which include fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal and from nuclear energy.

They are considered non-renewable because once they are removed from the ground and used, they are not immediately replaced.

Why it is important to conserve energy?

All of us use energy every day – for entertainment, cooking, transportation, lighting, heating and cooling homes, manufacturing, etc. We consume a lot of energy.

When energy is produced from non-renewable fuels, to heat our homes or power our cars for example, pollutants are released into the air contaminating the air we breathe and water too. The more energy we use or miles we drive in our cars, the more energy power plants must produce or gasoline our cars burn, releasing more pollutants into the air.

Aside from that,
the world's natural gas, crude oil and coal deposits took millions of years to form. Uranium, which is used for nuclear energy, has limited supply as well. Humans will have used up most of these deposits in less than 200 years. Once they are gone, non-renewable energy supplies cannot be replaced within human time scales.

By conserving energy we can lower the amount of pollutants we release into the air and water and thereby help to keep our environment clean. Additionally, if we use less energy we can save money on our electric bill or reduce the amount of money we spend on gasoline. So you can help the environment and save money at the same time!

Additionally, we can use energy sources that are clean and efficient. For example, wind and solar energy generate electricity without polluting the air. Another example is soybeans, which we can use to produce biodiesel. Biodiesel can be blended with regular diesel fuel or used all by itself to fuel tractors, buses and trucks. These types of energy are friendly to our environment and help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which cannot be replenished.

Why is renewable energy important today?

Energy Price Stability
In the last three years, we have seen large fluctuations in the cost of natural gas, oil, and electricity due to global economics, market deregulation, and political events in some parts of the world. Renewable energy is not subject to sharp price changes because it comes from sources such as sunshine, flowing water, wind, and biological waste, all of which are free. This gives people greater certainty about the cost of energy, which is good for society and the economy. By comparison, fossil fuels are limited in their supply, and their price will increase as they become scarcer.

Clean Air
Air pollution is a major problem in many cities in Canada and around the world. The biggest cause of air pollution in cities is the burning of fossil fuels, including fuels used for transportation. The Canadian federal government estimates that more than 16,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from diseases caused by air pollution. Thousands more suffer from long-term sicknesses and disabilities. The great advantage of using renewable energy in place of fossil fuels is that renewable energy adds very few pollutants to the environment. Renewable energy is considered "clean" and "green." Climate change may cause the world-wide spread of diseases such as malaria, which is carried by mosquitoes.

Protecting Global Climates
When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide. This gas acts like an invisible blanket, trapping more of the sun's energy in the atmosphere, causing the Earth to warm up little by little. Carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere as more and more fossil fuels are used in homes, factories, and automobiles. If this continues, most scientists think our planet is likely to become significantly warmer, which could cause many serious problems around the world. These problems could include melting of arctic ice, increased forest fires, rising sea levels, loss of animal habitat, damage to coral reefs, the spreading of tropical diseases, expanding deserts, and more frequent and severe storms.

Protecting Landscapes and Watersheds
Some energy projects, particularly big coalmines, hydro dams, and oil and gas activities, can have a large impact on lands and watersheds. Damage or loss of natural lands and watersheds is likely to affect humans and animals. For example, wilderness areas could be lost for when energy resources are extracted. Hydro dams can flood large areas, while the facilities associated with oil and gas and oilsands development can affect forests and disrupt animal movements and migrations. On the other hand, solar energy can provide a continuous supply of energy, which is integrated directly into buildings so that it has very little impact on land use. Run-of-river hydro plants can be designed to allow for free flow of existing streams.

Unlimited Supplies
Renewable energy supplies will never run out. While the supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas are limited, sunshine, wind, biomass, and water power are considered almost limitless resources. Canada's coal supply is expected to last 200 years, and natural gas about 100 years. Our large, untapped supplies of wind, sun, water, and biomass can power our society indefinitely.

Jobs and the Economy
Renewable energy can be developed in such a way that every household or neighbourhood could have its own renewable power generating equipment. This would create many new jobs for people involved in setting up and maintaining this energy supply, and in manufacturing the equipment. It is also more efficient to produce renewable energy in small amounts right where it is needed. The energy losses and equipment needed to transmit power over long distances can also be minimized in this way.

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