PacB Group // Is Renewable Energy the Hope for the Future?


Is Renewable Energy the Hope for the Future?

Renewable energy is energy that has been derived from earth’s natural resources. These sources of energy are not finite or exhaustible. For instance, wind and sunlight, unlike fossil fuels, are for all practical purposes in-exhaustible. Renewable energy is an alternative to traditional energy, which relies on the burning of fossil fuels. Renewable energy tends to be much less harmful to the environment, but more importantly, it will not run out.

What Energy Sources Are Viewed as Renewable?

Solar and wind power are the two renewable energy sources most people are aware of but there are many more that also qualify for the title. These include hydro-electric power, geothermal power, ocean power, biomass, and hydrogen. Ocean power is typically divided into two subsets, namely, thermal ocean power and mechanical ocean power.

Hydro-Electric Power

The use of large dams to store water and extract the kinetic energy contained in it is the oldest form of large-scale non-fossil energy production. Dams, where water flows through turbines to produce electricity, are what people most associate with hydroelectric power. Run-of-river hydropower is also, however, used where water is funnelled through a channel to turn a turbine rather than through a dam. Hydroelectric power is versatile. It can be produced using large-scale and small-scale projects, which include lower dams on small rivers and streams, as well as underwater turbines.

Hydroelectric power can be used in conjunction with solar power to create what are in effect giant batteries that run purely on renewable sources. Solar power is used during the day to pump water up into a higher level dam during the day and the water is allowed to flow back down to a lower level dam through a turbine at night. Hydroelectric power does not create pollution. It is a much more environmentally friendly option for generating energy than a coal-burning power station.

In 2012, the Three Gorges Dam in China became the largest hydroelectric dam in electricity production in the world. The Three Gorges Dam has a generating capacity of 22,500 megawatts (MW). It is about 181 meters high and 2,335 meters long. The dam creates the Three Gorges Reservoir, which has a surface area of about 1,045 km2 and extends upstream from the dam for around 600 kilometres. Hydroelectric power does not cause air pollution, but it does disrupt waterways. It negatively affects currents, changing water levels, and migration paths for fish.

Geothermal Power

Geothermal heat is comprised of heat that was trapped beneath the earth’s crust during the formation of the earth 4,5 billion years ago and heat generated by radioactive decay. In some instances, large amounts of this heat escapes naturally in a short, cataclysmic burst, resulting in phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and geysers. This heat can be captured and used to produce steam using naturally occurring groundwater running below the surface, to operate a turbine. Geothermal energy is the least common type of renewable energy, but it has significant potential for energy supply. A geothermal plant can be built almost entirely underground, leaving a minimal footprint on the surrounding land. On a human timescale, it is naturally replenished and will, effectively, never run out. Cost is the major disadvantage of geothermal energy. The cost to build the infrastructure is high and areas suitable for geothermal power are often vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismic activity.

Ocean Power

Ocean thermal energy relies on warm water surface temperatures to generate energy through a variety of different systems. Ocean mechanical energy uses the ebbs and flows of the tides, created by the earth’s rotation and gravity from the moon, to generate energy. Unlike some other forms of renewable energy, it is predictable, and it is therefore possible to estimate the amount of energy that will be produced accurately.

Compared to sun and wind power, wave energy is much more consistent. It is also abundantly available, as most highly populated cities are situated on the coast, making it easy to harness ocean energy for the local population. Wave energy presents an astounding untapped energy resource with an estimated 2640 terawatt hours of power per annum (TWh/yr) thought to be possible. 1 TWh/yr of energy would power in the region of 93,850 average American homes. Although ocean energy is a very clean source of energy, large plants need to be built to capture and distribute the energy, which can cause disruptions to the nearby ocean ecosystem and the sea life that inhabits it. Changes in weather alter the consistency of the waves, producing variations in energy output, which can be difficult to accommodate.

Hydrogen Power

Although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it is invariably found combined with other elements on earth. Typically, hydrogen combines with oxygen to make water and does not occur naturally as a gas. Once hydrogen is separated from other elements, it can be used both as a fuel and to generate electricity. Hydrogen can be used as a clean burning fuel, which lowers pollution and facilitates a cleaner environment. It can also be used in fuel cells which are similar to batteries and can be used to power electric motors. It requires energy to separate hydrogen from the oxygen in water. This inefficiency makes hydrogen less attractive as a renewable energy source and less efficient at preventing pollution.


Bioenergy is a renewable energy source derived from organic matter from recently living plants and organisms. Burning wood in a fireplace is an example of biomass being used as an energy source. Biomass can be burned or the methane gas, which is produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials, can be harnessed. Biomass energy production creates carbon dioxide that is put into the air, but the regeneration of plants consumes the carbon dioxide, which can create a balance. We do not yet have widespread technology to use biomass in place of fossil fuels.

The “Old Faithfulls”

Solar energy relies on sunlight, which is functionally endless. The technology to harvest it is well established, and it is a limitless source of energy. Solar could, with cost-effective storage, render fossil fuels virtually obsolete.

Wind turbines capture the energy of wind flow and convert it into electricity. Technically, wind energy is a form of solar energy. The phenomenon we call “wind” is caused by the differences in temperature in the atmosphere combined with the rotation of earth.

Solar energy is more efficient at smaller scales than wind. Non-utility scale users are therefore better off going with a solar system in most instances. If you are a commercial or industrial enterprise looking to adopt a renewable energy solution for your business, PacB has industry-renowned expertise and experience in electrical systems, power generation, and solar renewable energy. PacB offers solar energy systems from residential, through commercial and industrial, to utility scale solar solutions. Engage with PacB and lower your energy costs while reducing your environmental impact.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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