Renewable energy is one of those terms we hear a lot these days, with the green revolution peering out from behind peak oil, unstoppable climate change and a global economic May Day.
Recently the solargroupies at Oakleigh Vermont read with great astonishment a blog post about renewable energy that nonchalantly included nuclear power. Calling nuclear power renewable is another example of special interests attempting to convince ordinary people of something that is blatantly false. We see this a lot in the climate change movement.
Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural sources and can be naturally replenished (that's where the renewable part comes in). Uranium, plutonium and other radioactive isotopes are in finite supply in the Earth's crust. Therefore, nuclear power is not renewable. What types of energy are renewable?
Tidal energy can be generated by tidal stream generators or by barrage generation. It is generally more environmentally friendly and causes less impact on established ecosystems since blades rotate underwater and is driven by the swiftly moving dense water. Tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power.
Wave power is the capturing of ocean surface waves for electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water (into reservoirs). The rising and falling of the waves moves the buoy-like structure creating mechanical energy which is converted into electricity and transmitted to shore over a submerged transmission line.
Photovoltaic (PV) Solar power is harnessing the suns energy to produce electricity. One of the fastest growing energy sources, new technologies are developing at a rapid pace. Solar cells are becoming more efficient, transportable and even flexible, allowing for easy installation.
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy by wind turbines into electricity or mechanical energy. Large-scale wind farms are typically connected to the local power transmission network with small turbines used to provide electricity to isolated areas.
Hydroelectricity is electricity generated by hydropower, which uses the gravitational force of falling or flowing water to spin a turbine generator. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed, the project produces no direct waste. However - not all Hydro is renewable... in Australia the Hydro operators use coal fired electricity to pump water upstream to release downstream during peak demand periods, using it as a giant battery.
Radiant energy can do the same work as electricity at less than 1% of the cost. Switzerland currently has 5 or 6 working models of fuelless, self-running devices that tap this energy. Tesla’s magnifying transmitter, Moray’s radiant energy device, Gray’s EMA motor, and Baumann’s Testatika machine all run on radiant energy.
Geothermal energy can be performed on a small scale to provide heat for a residential unit (a geothermal heat pump), or on a very large scale for energy production through a geothermal power plant. It has been used for space heating and bathing since ancient roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity by spinning turbine generators.
Biomass refers to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel or to generate electricity. Biomass includes trash such as dead trees and branches, yard clippings and wood chips biofuel, plant or animal matter used for production of fibers, chemicals or heat.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is not renewable since it is a fossil fuel in finite supply that took millions of years to form. Natural gas, like other fossil fuels, produces carbon dioxide and water, two greenhouse gases, when burned.
Nuclear power is not renewable since radioactive isotopes are a finite resource and is not naturally replenished.