There is More to Renewables Than Just Wind

There does seem to be a feeling amongst some politicians and members of the public that wind is the only source of renewable energy – last week’s (17th March) Question Time was a good example of this – leading to the conclusion that renewables are not diverse sources of energy.

In view of this, I thought I would write a short blog summarising the sources of renewable energy; the blog is not meant to be exhaustive, just show that renewables are diverse sources of energy.  Please note: implementation of renewable energy sources still need to take into account environmental etc. issues so not all forms are acceptable in all circumstances.

Of late, biofuels have gained a bad reputation because of the way some organisations/countries are putting energy crops ahead of food crops and such actions are most certainly not the way ahead.  There is no need for energy crops to push out food crops.

Energy crops (biomass) such as short rotation coppice willow and poplar plus miscanthus can be used to produce heat and electricity.  Short rotation coppice are high-yielding varieties of willow or poplar tree and can be harvested every three years or so with the plantations remaining viable for up to 30 years before replanting is required.  Miscanthus is a high-yielding grass which can be harvested annually for at least 15 years.

Biogas can be harnessed by anaerobic digestion which is a natural biological process where organic material is broken down by bacteria in the absence of air.

This covers electricity generation from dams and rivers and is produced when the flowing water is converted into electricity by a turbine connected to an electricity generator. There is a great deal of scope for the expansion of small-scale hydropower schemes with many potential sites at former water-powered mills for example.

Solar Power (Concentrating/Concentrated, CSP)
This technology works similar to a coal steam power plant but with concentrated solar power being used for steam production. Large mirrors are positioned so they reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a certain point and part of the sun’s heat can be collected in heat storage tanks during the day then run through steam circuits at night or during peak hours.

CSP power tower at Sanlucar la Mayor, near Seville

CSP power tower at Sanlucar la Mayor, near Seville

Solar Power (Photovoltaics)
This is converting the sun’s energy directly into electricity, delivering the electricity at the point of use.

Tidal Power
This is energy extracted from a tidal stream and is usually deployed in areas where there is a high tidal range. It is also possible to make use of the tidal flow which occurs between headlands and islands or in and out of estuaries.

Wave Power
The power of the waves is readily apparent and, being an island, we have considerable potential for this type of renewable energy.

Wind Power (Offshore)
This represents one of the UK’s most significant renewable resources.

Wind Power (Onshore)
No need to make any comment, except, hopefully, the reader can now see that this is not the only renewable energy source!

If you would like to read more about renewable energy, please start by visiting these pages/sites:

David M. Davison


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