Renewable energy is usable energy derived from replenishable sources such as the sun, wind, rivers, hot springs, tides and biomass.
Since renewable energy is harnessed from inexhaustible natural processes, this energy can be used time and time again without depletion. Renewable energies include: solar energy, wind power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, biomass energy etc.
On the other hand, fossil fuels replenish naturally over time, but this takes millions of years. Fossil fuels include: coal, oil and natural gas.
Non-renewable fossil fuels (coal, crude oil and fracked gas) supply people with about 84.4% of all energy consumed globally. Nuclear energy is a second type of non-renewable energy that makes up only 4.3% of global energy. By contrast, renewable energy consumption across all sectors (transportation, heating, electricity, etc.) is approximately 11.4% worldwide.
Fossil fuel combustion has a number of negative environmental consequences. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Climate change and global warming concerns, coupled with the continuing fall in the costs of some renewable energy equipment are driving increased use of renewables.
Solar energy and wind power are becoming more and more popular. As industry becomes more aware of environmental issues and as large corporations begin to invest more in renewable energy, prices will decrease even further so that it is more accessible to energy consumers all around the world.
The most popular renewable energy sources in use:
Solar energy (1.1%)
Sunlight is one of our planet's most abundant and freely available energy resources. The amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth's surface in one hour is more than the planet's total energy requirements for a whole year.
Wind energy (2.3%)
Wind is a plentiful source of clean energy. To harness electricity from wind energy, turbines are used to drive generators which then feed electricity into the grids.
Hydroelectric energy (6.4%)
As a renewable energy resource, hydropower is one of the most commercially developed. By building a dam or barrier, a large reservoir can be used to create a controlled flow of water that will drive a turbine, generating electricity. This energy source can often be more reliable than solar or wind power and also allows electricity to be stored for use when demand reaches a peak.
Geothermal energy (0.4%)
By harnessing the natural heat below the Earth's surface, geothermal energy can be used to heat homes directly or to generate electricity.
Biomass energy (1.4%)
This is the conversion of solid fuel made from plant materials into electricity. Although fundamentally, biomass involves burning organic materials to produce electricity, but nowadays this is a much cleaner, more energy-efficient process. By converting agricultural, industrial and domestic waste into solid, liquid and gas fuel, biomass generates power at a much lower economic and environmental cost.
Source: Britannica, Green Coast Org