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Can we meet global energy demands just from renewable energy sources?

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Introduction

Can we meet global energy demands just from renewable energy sources? Currently, the majority of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form. They're a non-renewable resource because reserves are running out faster than new ones are being made. Renewable energy is naturally replenished and comes from natural resources like sunlight, water, wind and geothermal heat. The Sun provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world's energy needs for one year. If this could be harvested then it could mean the end of energy problems in the world. There are two types of solar panels: solar heating panels which heats water into steam which turns a turbine generating electricity and solar cell panels which produce electricity directly. ...read more.

Middle

A disadvantage of solar heating panels is that there are moving parts that are noisy and require maintenance. Wind turbines use wind to spin turbines which generates electricity. A single large wind turbine could only generate around 2MW when it is windy so thousands of wind turbines would be needed to replace a single power station. This requires land as wind turbines are very large, which some people complain "spoils the landscape" although there is also potential to have offshore wind farms. The cost of building and maintaining wind turbines would be expensive and they are also noisy so couldn't be located near residential areas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike the other forms of renewable energy, hydroelectric energy can be controlled so that the water flows through the dam when more energy is needed. To conclude, making all of our energy renewable would require an extremely large investment for the start-up costs for all of the various types of power station. Also, with the exception of hydroelectric power, the other forms of renewable energy cannot be controlled (you can't decide when it's sunny, it's windy, the tide is, etc.) so the energy would need to be stored somehow. This could possibly be done by electrolyzing water turning it into hydrogen and storing it, although this isn't very efficient. Furthermore, large areas of land will be required and some forms of renewable energy can damage the environment badly. ...read more.

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