Renewable Energy Technology
The role of energy in facilitating economic growth is indispensable. The consumption of energy has been on the rise with consumers demanding for lower prices. Weiss and Tsuchida (2015) also state that incentives and policies and regulations pertaining energy have been changing. These changes are fostered by the need to prevent climate pollution and reduce dependence on the mostly imported fossil fuel (Islam et al., 2014). These factors have lead to the advancement and rise in demand of renewable energies. There exist various renewable energy types such as wind, biomass geothermal and hydropower. The use of renewable energy sources has been on the rise while their cost has been declining due to their association with meeting many health and environmental requirements.
According to Timmons, Harris and Roach (2014), renewable energy sources are continually replenished by nature such by water, the wind and the sun. Renewable energy technologies convert these sources into usable energy forms such as heat, mechanical power or chemical power. The use and consequently integration of the various types of renewable energies has both advantages and disadvantages. The following section explores some of the prevalent renewable energy sources and how they can be used for national use.
Biomass refers to any energy derived from organic matter originating from plants or animal waste. Biomass energy is the energy that is obtained after converting biomass into useful energy forms such as electricity, heat or liquid fuels (Timmons, Harris & Roach, 2014. Biomass energy resources can be obtained directly from land or residues from the processing of crop related products. With the rise of global climatic change threat, it is speculated that the use of this form of energy will increase.
The use of biomass as a source of national energy can have various advantages. For instance, Timmons, Harris and Roach (2014) state of the technical potential of biomass is higher than the consumption rate of the world. Moreover, this energy source helps in reducing climatic pollution (Islam et al., 2014). Biomass energy is obtained at a low, or no cost and hence is more suitable for use.
However, biomass energy has various disadvantages. For instance, biomass energy is bulky, and the energy density is low. Moreover, the combustion process is inefficient resulting in loss of some of the energy causing air pollution. Moreover, biomass as a source of energy can lead to a depletion of soil nutrients and erosion issues. Besides, the energy conversion of biomass, which is less than 1% for plants (Herzog, Lipman & Kammen, 2001).
Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
PV involves the conversion of sunlight energy into electricity through the use of solid-state semiconductors (Herzog, Lipman & Kammen, 2001). This source of energy can be applied anywhere. Moreover, PV is available in infinite but sustainable quantities with energy varying from about 6.0kWh per day to 4.0 kWh per day. Moreover, use of PV in generating energy is reliable and developed. PV can be integrated into the national grid for emergency backup power.
However, this source of energy is very expensive with Timmons, Harris and Roach (2014) stating that it is about three times the cost of fossil fuels. It also requires large amounts of space and the energy generated is affected by weather conditions.
Wind can be used to generate such as electrical and mechanical energy by using such as turbines. According to Herzog, Lipman, and Kammen (2001), wind turbines with a load of 50 kW-2MW can be integrated into grid systems. One of the advantages of wind energy is that it is very cheap, which is 3-6 US cents for kWh, although the initial installation cost is high. Moreover, this form of energy is environmentally friendly although it does cause noise pollution.
However, wind energy has a high rate of variability due to changes in weather conditions and requires a large amount of land. Moreover, Timmons, Harris and Roach (2014), generation of wind energy faces challenges due to the limitation of site locations.
Hydropower is the largest renewable source of energy with many countries generating hydroelectric power. Timmons, Harris and Roach (2014) explain that there is approximately 700 GW of hydropower producing 2600 TWh every year. This source of energy has high potential. There are about 14000 TWh per year energy feasible for development.
Hydropower is the most efficient method of generating electricity (Herzog, Lipman & Kammen, 2001). The cost of production for hydropower is also low, approximately 0.7 UScents/kWh. The sources are also widely distributed, and variability is relatively low but can be affected by weather.
The discussed renewable energy resources have various advantages especially in issues of climatic pollution and cost. However, their integration into the national grid may be impeded due to the high rate of variability and uncertainty. Such drawbacks of the renewable energy may cause declined efficiency in the network due to turning off and on (Bird, Milligan & Lew, 2013). Moreover, the variability will result to wearing out of energy generating systems in the national grid due to switching on and off. However, such effects of variability on the national grid could be rectified through such as advanced forecasting, integration of storage and use of smart investors. With the incorporation of such measures, the renewable sources of energy are essential for incorporation into the national grid system to reduce blackouts and reduce the cost of energy. For instance, in 2015, Speer and colleagues observed an effective integration of wind energy in the national grid. Korea’s Gapa Island smart grid also provides an excellent example of using renewable sources of energy that are effectively incorporated into the national grid.
Weiss, J., & Tsuchida, B. (2015). Integrating Renewable Energy into the Electricity Grid.
Islam, M. A., Hasanuzzaman, M., Rahim, N. A., Nahar, A., & Hosenuzzaman, M. (2014). Global Renewable Energy-Based Electricity Generation and Smart Grid System for Energy Security. The Scientific World Journal.
Herzog, A. V., Lipman, T. E., & Kammen, D. M. (2001). Renewable energy sources. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Forerunner Volume-‘Perspectives and Overview of Life Support Systems and Sustainable Development.
Timmons, D., Harris, J. M., & Roach, B. (2014). The Economics of Renewable Energy. Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University.
Speer, B., Miller, M., Schaffer, W., Gueran, L., Reuter, A., Jang, B., & Widegren, K. (2015). Role of Smart Grids in Integrating Renewable Energy(No. NREL/TP-6A20-63919). National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (United States).
Bird, L., Milligan, M., & Lew, D. (2013). Integrating Variable Renewable Energy: Challenges and Solutions. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.