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Advantages of Green Clean Renewable Energy – Complete List to Solar,Wind,Biomass Geothermal,Hydro,Nuclear and Tidal Energy Pros

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The importance of Clean and Renewable Energy is growing driven by the twin factors of increasing fossil fuel prices and Global Warming. Other factors contributing to the importance and growing use of Alternative Energy is national energy security as geopolitical tensions in major oil and gas countries grows by the day. Also renewable sources of energy like solar energy promote the democratization of energy production which is centralized by power utilities today. There are a number of alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro and nuclear energy. Some people may not consider nuclear and hydro energy to be green but it is a fact that these 2 energy sources do not produce GHG emissions and cannot be classified as fossil fuels sources. Each clean energy source has its own advantages and many of the pros overlap with each other as well. However each Green Energy source has its unique benefits which define and separate it from the other clean sources. While Renewable Energy advantages over Non-Renewable can be easily be understood as:

a) National Energy Security

b) Prevention of Global Warming

c) Reducing Costs

These above advantages are general to Renewable Energy over non-Renewable forms.Below is listed the specific advantages of each of the major renewable energy sources.

Nuclear Energy Advantages

  1. Reliability - Nuclear Power is a highly reliable form of energy almost as good as other fossil fuel energy forms like coal, gas etc. Nuclear Power Plants except in drastic situations continue to run reliably for the whole day without any changes.
  2. Low Fuel Cost - Large amounts of Nuclear Energy can be produced from the fission on radioactive elements like uranium. The costs of nuclear fuel is relatively  very low compared to other energy sources like coal and gas. Also uranium prices currently are quite low making the nuclear electricity price even lower.
  3. Low Electricity Cost – The Electricity produced from Nuclear Power is quite low at around 3-5c/Kwh making it very attractive to construct hydro plants.  Nuclear  Plants also  have long lives of between 40-60 years which means that they are extremely profitable once constructed within reasonable costs.
  4. No Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Air Pollution – Nuclear electricity does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal, oil or gas.This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap, non carbon dioxide producing electricity.
  5. High Load Factor - Nuclear Power Plants have very high load factors in excess of 80%. They can generate power almost 24/7 and only require shutdown for periodic maintenance.
  6. Huge  Potential –Nuclear Energy Potential is almost infinite compared to the limited and peak features of other forms of  energy like Wind, Geothermal, Oil, Gas and others. Only Solar Energy can be said to have more potential. Note new technologies and fuels like fast breeder and thorium are still in the works which can increase the potential of Nuclear Power more.

Solar Energy Advantages

1) Environment Friendly – Solar Energy does not lead to any major mining activity, does not lead to significant GHG emissions, does not lead to health hazards like thermal power.

2) Declining Costs - Solar Costs are declining at a rapid pace and are rapidly approaching grid parity in most parts of the world. The use of semiconductor techniques ensures that the costs should continue to decline in the future as well.

3) No Fuel and Low Maintenance - Solar Energy does not require any fuel like Wind Energy and the Operation and Maintenance Costs are extremely low. This is a huge advantage in these days when gas and oil disruptions are causing energy insecurity. Libya, Russia are all examples.

4) No Pollution and Deaths - Solar Energy does not lead to pollution disasters like the BP Oil Spill and Coal Deaths which are directly related to Dirty Energy Production.

5) Almost Unlimited Potential – Solar Energy Potential is almost infinite compared to the limited and peak features of other forms of  energy like Wind, Geothermal, Oil, Gas and others. Only Nuclear Energy has potential similar to Solar Energy.

6) Size Advantages - Solar Installations can be installed in various sizes with as little as 200 Watts and as big as a 1000 MW. This is not possible for other energy forms which require a minimum large size such as Coal, Nuclear etc.

7) Quick Installation - Solar Energy can be installed very quickly.Small residential installations can be installed in as low as 3 days. This is much faster compared to other  energy sources.

8 )  Grid Independent – Solar Energy finds the most use in non-grid areas where it can be installed with batteries for energy storage. It is a much cheaper form of energy for non-grid applications than other forms. It is giving competition to Diesel Gensets being used.

Wind Energy Advantages

1) No Pollution and Global Warming Effects – Wind Turbines does not lead to pollution which is one of the biggest advantages of Wind Energy. Note there are costs associated with the equipment used to build and transport Wind Equipment but the running of Wind Energy leads to no pollution.

2) Low Costs – The Costs of Wind Energy has reached the level of Gas powered Energy and can be generated at extremely low rates of around 7-8c/KwH in favorable conditions.

3) Big Industrial Base - Wind Energy has become a mainstream source of energy and a large industrial base already exists. This allows a rapid deployment of Wind Power in most places in the world. The number of Wind Turbine Producers is increasing with a number of Asian firms entering the industry.

4) No Fuel Cost - Wind Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of renewable energy. This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year. Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of  the world much faster than general inflation. Price shocks due to high fuel costs are a big risk with fossil fuel energy these days.

5) Offshore Advantage – The next big growth spurt in Wind Energy is coming from the offshore Wind Energy sector. Huge Wind Turbines of 5 MW and above are being built around 30-40 kms from the coasts. This has the advantage of no land usage,no noise problems and the wind is much better leading to higher load factors. The costs are currently higher but in the future are expected to come rapidly come down. USA has enough offshore wind potential to replace the whole fossil fuel electricity being consumed right now.

6) Small Wind Turbines gaining some traction – While Wind Turbines are not generally used in distributed form,it is possible to now use small wind turbines being built by a number of companies to power small establishments.

Geothermal Energy Advantages

1) Environment Friendly, and Global Warming Mitigation Effects – Geothermal Energy does not lead to any major mining activity, does not lead to significant GHG emissions, does not lead to health hazards like thermal power.

2) No Fuel Cost - Geothermal Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of energy. This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year. Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of  the world much faster than general inflation. Price shocks due to high fuel costs are a big risk with fossil fuel energy these days.

3) Predictable, 24/7 Power -Geothermal Energy is very predictable and producers power 24 hours a day, 7 days as week. Other forms of Renewable Energy like Solar and Wind Energy are intermittent in nature. The electricity supply is much more uniform and reliable.

4) High Load Factor - The Load Factor for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from 15-40% which is quite low compared to Fossil Fuel Energy. Geothermal Energy has a load factor of almost 80% which is equal to that of Thermal Power and comparable to Nuclear Power.

4) No Pollution and Deaths- Geothermal Energy does not lead to pollution disasters like the BP Oil Spill and Coal Deaths which are directly related to Dirty Energy Production.

Hydro Energy Advantages

  1. No Fuel Cost - Hydro Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of energy. This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year. Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of  the world much faster than general inflation. Price shocks due to high fuel costs are a big risk with fossil fuel energy these days.
  2. Low Operating Costs and little Maintenance - Operating labor cost is also usually low, as plants are automated and have few personnel on site during normal operation.
  3. Low Electricity Cost – The Electricity produced from Hydro Power is quite low making it very attractive to construct hydro plants. The payback period is estimated to be between 5-8 years for a normal hydro power plant. Hydro Plants also  have long lives of between 50-100 years which means that they are extremely profitable.
  4. No Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Air Pollution – Hydroelectricity does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal, oil or gas. This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap, non carbon dioxide producing electricity.
  5. Energy Storage – Pumped Hydro Storage is possible with most of the hydro power plants. This makes them ideal storage for wind and solar power which are intermittent in nature. Hydro Dams can be modified at low costs to allow pumped storage.
  6. Small Size Possible - Hydroelectricity can be produced in almost any size from 1 MW to 10000 MW which makes it very versatile. Small Hydro Plants are being encouraged by government as they cause less ecological affects than large hydro plants. Even micro hydro plants are possible.
  7. Reliability - Hydro Power is much more reliable than wind and solar power though less than coal and nuclear as a base load source of power. Hydroelectricity is more or less predictable much in advance though it can decrease in summer months when the water is low in the catchment areas.
  8. High Load Factor - The Load Factor for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from 15-40% which is quite low compared to Fossil Fuel Energy. Hydroelectricity on the other hand  has a load factor of almost 40-60% .
  9. Long Life - Hydro Plants  has a very long life of around 50- 100 years which is much longer than that of even Nuclear Power Plants. The long life implies that the life cycle cost of a Hydel Power Plant becomes very low in the long term.

Tidal Energy Advantages

  1. Renewable,non-Polluting and Carbon Negative - Tidal Energy is completely renewable,does not lead to any pollution of the air and does not lead to any carbon emissions like Fossil Fuels.
  2. Predictable - Tidal Wave Energy is very predictable as the Tides rise with great uniformity. Other forms of Renewable Energy like Solar and Wind Energy are intermittent in nature. The electricity supply is much more uniform and reliable in case of Tidal Power.
  3. No Fuel - Tidal Power needs Water for Generation of Electricity in its catchment area. It does not need fuel like Thermal, Gas or Oil Powered Power Stations.
  4. Low Costs – Once a Tidal Energy Power Plant starts running,its costs are extremely low. The biggest Power Plant in France run by EDF works at 1.5c/Kwh which is lower than either nuclear or coal energy which are the cheapest forms of power.
  5. Long Life - A Tidal Barrage has a very long life of around 100 years which is much longer than that of even Nuclear Power Plants. The long life implies that the life cycle cost of a Tidal Energy Power Plant becomes very low in the long term.
  6. High Energy Density - The Energy Density of Tidal Energy is much higher than that of other forms of Renewable Energy like Wind Power.
  7. High Load Factor - The Load Factor for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from 15-40% which is quite low compared to Fossil Fuel Energy. Tidal Energy has a load factor of almost 80% which is equal to that of Thermal Power.

Biomass Energy Advantages

1) Carbon Neutral- Note Biomass Energy results in no new net GHG emissions as it is part of the carbon cycle. Unlike coal and others forms of fossil fuel which have been buried millions of years ago and burning them adds to carbon in the atmosphere, responsible biomass energy generation results in no new carbon emissions or pollution.

2) Use of Waste - Biomass Energy is an Efficient Process which results in the use of mostly animal and crop waster which would be converted into carbon dioxide anyway. To use to as energy before the conversion is an important use of the millions of tons of waste that is generated by human activities.

3) Continuous Source of Power – Biomass Energy can be generated almost 24×7  unlike other forms of renewable energy like wind and solar that are intermittent in nature.

4) Large variety of Feedstock – Biomass Energy can use a large variety of feedstock such as wood pellets, rice husk, bagasse etc.

5) Low Capital Investment - The capital investment required for biomass based power plants is relatively less at $1-2/watt of biomass capacity. Note wind energy is slightly higher while solar is even higher. Biomass Energy has similar capex characteristics as  other forms of conventional energy like coal, gas, oil etc.

6) Distributed Nature – Biomass plants can be built in remote areas and used as a distributed form of power generation.

7) Can be built on small scale - Biomass plants can be built in 1 Mw sizes unlike other types of power which require much larges scale. For example nuclear energy requires a typical plants size of at least 500 MW to make it economical.

8 )  Reduces Methane which is a major GHG gas – Decomposition of organic matter releases methane. Capturing this methane yields energy while protecting the atmosphere. The animal industry and landfills produce significant amounts of methane.

9) Easy Availability – Biomass is readily available in almost all parts of the world except the desert areas where finding biomass is difficult.

10) Low Cost Resource – Biomass Energy can be produced cheaply if there is a good availability of feedstock.

PG

Abhishek Shah

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6 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. rebecca dickson

    this website is great , it has really helped me ….thanks alot guys :)

  2. Richard Belcher

    Geothermal power is the way forward in my opinon. Nuclear works too , but you have to remember we already have free geothermal energy underneath our feet ready to exploit :)

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