Climate change is the biggest concern for society today as it poses a significant threat to the world. Scientists have warned about the adverse effects of climate change, such as increasing sea levels, extreme weather conditions, and impact on global food production.
There is an increasing demand from people worldwide to incorporate relevant actions for a better future. Gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the major contributor to changing climate.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released various reports show how fossil fuel impacts the climate. Most experts suggest renewable energy as the best solution to this problem, some people are unsure about its reliability.
Can We Rely on Renewable Energy?
Some people have concerns regarding the reliability of renewable energy. For instance, wind turbines will not generate electricity if there is no electricity or solar panels will not work in areas that receive little sunlight such as Finland.
The misconception is that most individuals think the different energy sources are independent entities. However, that is not the case since renewable energy is a single unit that combines multiple sources.
For instance, if the wind speed is not optimal for power generation, an adjoining biomass plant can compensate for the lost capacity. Or, if a solar plant is not working to its maximum capacity, the hydro plant can work in tandem to provide sufficient energy for a particular area.
The reliability of renewable energy is based on a holistic force where all sources work together to meet an area’s energy needs. Looking at it that way rather than considering all the sources of electricity generation will show that we can rely on renewable energy.
Renewable Energy Reliability
Many factors make renewable energy a reliable source to meet domestic requirements. The availability, supply, and location make renewable energy a reliable source for meeting domestic needs.
In the US, the power generation to meet the local energy demand can be accomplished with four sources: wind, hydro, biomass, and solar. Currently, 21% of the electricity comes from renewable sources, and experts believe it may rise to around 40% by 2050.
Fossil Fuels or Renewable Energy: Which is more Reliable?
Undoubtedly, renewable energy is more reliable than fossil fuels since they have an unlimited supply. There is no shortage of wind or solar energy that we can use for power generation, making it a sustainable option. On the other hand, there is a limited oil and coal supply.
Additionally, the changes in the prices of oil can have a severe impact on the cost of power generation. The Russia-Ukraine war is an example of how oil prices shot up globally in a short span. So, relying on international markets to fulfill our oil needs is not a wise option.
Even if most countries are self-reliant on oil and do not import oil, they would eventually run out of it. It is the same with coal and other fossil fuels used for power generation.
Conversely, there is no shortage of renewable energy, and it does not need to rely on other countries. There is an ample amount of solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy to meet the global power demand.
Different Sources of Renewable Energy
The best thing about renewable energy is that it does not only come from a single source. However, there are some factors that can make a particular renewable energy source unreliable.
Ideally, the first thing to do is assess each area to the renewable energy that is most effective. For instance, it would require an area that receives a good amount of sunlight throughout the year to make solar more effective. The hydro and wind projects should be near areas such as rivers or lakes.
Placing a solar power plant in an urban area with high buildings will neither be cost-effective nor efficient. However, renewable energy sources are more reliable if they are all considered as a single unit. On that note, let’s go over the different renewable power generation sources.
Solar energy is the most common renewable source that most countries use globally. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this renewable source is the cheapest way to generate electricity. It also states that solar energy is cheaper and more reliable than coal and gas.
Although solar power is a reliable energy source, geographical aspects can impact its reliability. Some countries, such as Finland, Sweden, etc., don’t receive a lot of sunlight throughout the year. However, most countries enjoy decent sunlight to produce cheap solar energy.
Another reliable source of renewable energy is hydropower. It is considered the best option for cheap and clean electricity as it can maximize its production capacity in no time. Unlike solar and wind energy, it does not need it does not need consistent sunlight or high winds.
Hydropower plants have proven their reliance for decades as they continue to provide clean energy. The only thing necessary for hydropower units or hydroelectric dams is that they are built on a river or a body of water.
Though wind power is a clean energy source, it can sometimes be unreliable. The geographical factor wind speed variations can become critical factors in how reliable this energy source can be. Firstly, engineers would have to find a large area of land where winds blow at a reliable speed.
Even if you consider this aspect before constructing a wind farm, there can be instances where the wind may not be present. Wind turbines cannot generate electricity if the speed is less than 2.5 meters per second.
There is also the possibility of heavy winds, which can damage the turbines. If the wind starts to blow at more than 25 meters per second, the wind turbines might get damaged.
Nevertheless, wind energy is a reliable and cheap source of electricity with proper calculations. Engineers can measure wind speed and can do a proper analysis before building a wind farm in any area.
Biomass is another reliable renewable energy source that can produce cheap electricity. There is no shortage of organic material that is used for power generation. Usually, the biomass plant is associated with a solar or wind power plant to compensate for energy if it cannot operate at its full capacity.
While biomass to produce electricity creates greenhouse gas emissions, it is much lower than burning fossil fuels. Nevertheless, it is best to keep the usage of biomass as a backup for wind or solar power plants.
Other Sources of Renewable Energy
There are also other sources to generate cheap and clean energy apart from these four. Tidal and geothermal energy are two examples of such reliable renewable sources which can help in power generation.
Which Source is the Most Reliable for Renewable Energy?
While all renewable energy sources are available in unlimited supply, the most reliable are hydroelectric power and biomass. Hydroelectric power plants are known for their amazing potential and are considered the most reliable and cost-effective way to generate clean energy.
Hydroelectric power plants can become operational in a short time to cater to the growing demand. They are valuable when the coal power plants go down, or if there is an increase in the demand for electricity. Moreover, biomass can also act as a backup resource for solar and wind power plants.
Wind or Solar Energy: Which is More Reliable?
There are mixed opinions regarding whether wind energy is more reliable than solar or vice versa. Studies show that wind turbines can use around 45% of the wind it captures to generate electricity.
On the other hand, the most efficient solar panel can only convert around 15% of the sunlight they absorb into electricity.
However, there is an abundance of sunlight if we compare the availability of wind. Therefore, there is no clear way to tell which one is more reliable. One thing about these energy sources is that they offer cheap electricity.
Renewable Energy: The Future of the Power Generation Industry
As countries around the world are experiencing the impact of climate change and global warming, the calls for cutting back on gas emissions are growing. Since fossil fuels are the biggest contributor to total gas emissions, countries are now increasingly focusing on generating electricity through renewable energy solutions.
Moreover, limited supply of fossil fuels and the rising prices of oil and other commodities can also drive countries to rely on renewable energy.
The US, China, and other nations that are top contributors to gas emissions are already transitioning to renewable energy.
Therefore, it is safe to say that renewable energy is the future of the power generation industry. Renewable energy sources are not only unlimited, but they are much more reliable than non-renewable resources. They are also a cheaper way to generate electricity which can help various poorer nations across the globe.