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Understanding the Different Types of Renewable Energy

11 Feb 11:00 by Steve Walia

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Renewable energy is big news, but as well as offering the chance for a low-carbon future, it also provides diversity of energy sources of supply. But what are the different types that exist?

1. Bioenergy - created from biomass to generate electricity and heat as well as to produce liquid fuels that are used for the transport industry. This is a carbon-neutral technology, as it burns organic matter which has absorbed CO2 during the growth phase. This is then released as the fuel is burned.

2. Geothermal energy - this involves harnessing the Earth's natural heat from hot water reservoirs or rocks. It can be used to heat and cool buildings.

3. Hydroelectricity - this is used where natural water sources provide kinetic energy to turn turbines. These can be from river sources or from the use of dams - as with pumped-storage hydro systems, which cycle water through reservoirs to control the generation of energy around peak demand.

4. Hydrogen energy produces no pollution when it’s burned, and it's being used in a range of applications, including hydrogen-cell cars.

5. Ocean power can be generated through thermal energy and mechanical energy, capturing the heat of the sun and the movement of the waves and tides.

6. Solar energy uses energy from the sun to produce electricity. PV cells convert it into power and can be used on a micro or commercial scale.

7. Wind energy uses turbines to generate electricity on either land or out at sea, and they exist at an individual, community and commercial level.

The renewables industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies being researched all of the time, such as the use of micro-algae to produce bioenergy and battery storage to maximise efficiency of green fuel storage and transmission.