What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy refers to energy that is obtained from natural resources that are replenishable    – something that will not run out such as the sun, water and so on. It is also known as “alternative energy” which refers to using energy from sources other than the widely used non-sustainable sources such as fossil fuel or coal.  Over the years renewable or alternative energy has gained a lot of popularity due to being cleaner, healthier, and diverse applications. In this article, we delve into everything you need to know about renewable energy sources and how your contribution can help create a cleaner future.

Types of renewable energy

The most widely used renewable energy sources include:

Sun – solar energy

Water – hydroelectric power

Wind – wind power

Hot springs -geothermal energy

Tides – tidal power and

 Biomass -biofuels

Evolution of renewable energy

In the early years of the 21st century, about 80% of the world’s energy source was from fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas.  These fossil fuels  are finite resources – that is at some point, they will run out. 

In addition, the combustion of fossil fuel has a number of harmful environmental and health impacts as well. For instance, most fossil-fuel driven plants discharge  air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and poisonous chemicals like heavy metals including mercury, lead and arsenic, while vehicles powered by fossil fuels release nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants can cause several short term and long term health problems including allergies, headache, heart diseases, asthma, and skin cancer, besides others. Moreover, the combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2), which is one of the main greenhouse gases that is responsible for global warming and climate change.

However, before the development of one of the most widely used fossil fuels – which is coal in the mid-19th century, almost all energy used was from renewable sources including using traditional biomass to ignite fires or using wind power for sailing ships across water. Although after the discovery of fossil fuels, use of renewable energy slowed down by the 21st century, it still accounted for nearly 20 percent of worldwide energy usage. In fact by the first quarter of 2020, nearly 28% percent of the world’s electricity was generated from renewable sources.

The challenges of renewable energy

Despite the wide range of applications of renewable energy, until recently the main obstacle for the growth of this sector has been its costly price tag. Although their maintenance costs are minimal, it is the installation cost that acts as the major barrier.

Another challenge  is the infrastructure and power transmission as most infrastructures were built with large fossil fuel plants in mind. In addition, existing local power distributors also act as barriers to entry since they are well established as well as have enormous market power. 

However, thanks to advancements in technology, the costs of renewable energy sources have reduced significantly. For instance, solar panel technology price reduced 82% by 2019 and the upfront costs are only projected to go down with further progression. In addition, with the whole world geared towards achieving net zero emission and minimizing carbon footprint, governments all over the world, including the government of Canada offers grants and incentives to corporations and businesses for investing in clean energy while energy companies like A-TECH Engineering Ltd. provides investment opportunity in energy solutions with zero upfront cost.

Is renewable energy the way to go?

Renewable energy has never been a more important or widely discussed topic than it is nowadays. From powerful governments to big corporations to progressive business owners, everyone is waking up to the need for a greener world with clean energy which points solely to the renewable energy source. 
Two of the most recent popular renewable energy sources happen to be the solar and wind energy source and they are increasingly being used for producing energy for both local areas as well as national power generation. 

These alternative energy sources have a lot more to offer than just producing clean or net zero emissions such as helping in boosting local economies. For example, use of solar power offers lots of benefits with easy installation, low maintenance cost, lower electricity bills, and so on while projects driven by wind energy provide potentials in the form of increased employment opportunities and local funding. Renewable energy is projected to account for about 30 percent of the world’s energy by 2024, forecasted by the International Energy Agency, and most of this will be driven by solar, hydroelectric, and wind projects.

Although there is a long way to go before mankind has completely stopped relying on fossil fuels for energy usage, the increased popularity and versatile applications of renewable energy sources make them worth considering if your organization has clean energy and sustainable goals. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. is a leading energy company based in Toronto which offers advanced energy solutions including solar power, cogeneration besides others. Connect with us and find out how we can help your business become more environment-friendly and energy saving.