What Are Some Examples of Renewable Resources?
Wind, solar, and hydropower are examples of renewable energy. Credit to Andrea Moore via Fix.com
26 February 2021 – by Eric Koons
First, how do you know if a resource is renewable? It comes down to the rate a resource is consumed and replenished. Fuel sources that are defined as renewable resources are replenished over a relatively short period of time. They do not diminish. Renewable resource examples include the wind, sun, moving water, the earth’s heat and even organic waste material. Numerous governments throughout Asia are implementing plans to replace their fossil fuel-based technologies with these resources.
Wind Energy – How is Wind a Renewable Resource?
Wind is a renewable resource that is converted into electricity by capturing its kinetic energy with wind turbines. Wind turbines vary in size and can produce power on a utility to individual home scale. The capacity factor (total amount of time power is being produced) for wind ranges from 41-44 percent. Whereas the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE – the price of electricity for a project’s revenues to equal its costs) ranges from USD $36.93-$120.52 per megawatt-hour.
Wind power is a type of renewable resource that is clean and sustainable. One of the main advantages is that it can generate electricity without polluting the atmosphere as opposed to many power plants that burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Wind power is also available on a global scale as an infinite energy source.
Solar energy – Renewable Energy From the Sun
Solar radiation (light) is the most common renewable resource. It is captured by converting sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic (PV) panels or source concentrating mirrors (CSP). Solar radiation is used for utility power, water heating, lighting, portable solutions and more. The capacity factors and LCOE for these technologies vary, but an average solar PV plant has a capacity factor of 28.5 percent and LCOE of USD $37.50 per megawatt-hour.
Solar power is one of the types of renewable energy that can be utilized anywhere on Earth during the day to generate electricity. In 2019 it accounted for 1.66% of the energy consumption in the United States. Last year in 2020, Asia and specifically China led the way with solar power as a source of energy. China already has two-thirds of solar energy capacity with over 275GW. Japan is a distant second with 55.5GW. India and Vietnam are also investing heavily in solar energy. With that, Asia is set to become a global leader for solar sources of energy.
Hydropower – The power stored in moving water
Another renewable resource example is moving water. This movement is converted into electricity by capturing the kinetic energy with rotating water turbines. Moving water can be used for utility power (dams), power storage, run-of-the-river systems, tidal flows and more. Compared to solar energy, water has a significantly higher capacity factor and LCOE. They come in at 55 percent and USD $55.26 per megawatt-hour.
Asia accounts for almost half of the global installed hydropower facilities again with China leading the way, with Japan, Vietnam, India, and Pakistan following behind retrospectively. The Xiluodu Hydroelectric Power Plant on Jinsha Jiang River in China offsets roughly 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Geothermal energy – Renewable Energy Beneath our Feet
The heat beneath the earth’s crust is a powerful renewable resource. The energy stored in heat and pressure is captured as geothermal energy. Water and/or steam transfers this energy to the earth’s surface and is used for electricity, heating or cooling purposes. Moreover, the capacity factor and LCOE for an average geothermal plant is 90 percent and USD $34.49 per megawatt-hour, respectively.
Similar to solar panels to convert energy from the sun, geothermal heat pumps can facilitate the process needed to utilize this clean energy type to a residential level. This was first trialed in Kamphamgpet, Thailand in 2006. This type of renewable energy resources has a long way to go before it can meet the energy needs of any Asian country but it is an example of a high potential renewable resource that is growing.
Waste-to-energy (WtE) – Turning Waste into Energy
Biomass is a common renewable resource exampl. It is harnessed using a variety of technologies. Biomass is essentially wood, agricultural crops, or other organic wastes that are turned back into energy. The energy stored in these organic products is captured through burning or chemical reactions. In some cases it can even be converted into a liquid compound used to fuel vehicles. The capacity factors and LCOE for biomass are the second highest out of all the renewable energy examples we discussed. It stands at 83 percent and USD $89.21 per megawatt-hour respectively.
These renewable resource examples are competitive with fossil fuel energy. For example, an average coal plant maintains a capacity factor and LCOE of 85 percent and USD $72.28 per megawatt-hour. However, a major disadvantage of all fossil fuel technologies is that they depend on non-renewable fuels. Depending on a country’s availability of natural resources, the capacity factors and LCOE of renewable energy technologies can significantly improve. This will play a major part in how Asian governments develop their renewable energy plans for the future.
by Eric Koons
Eric is a passionate environmental advocate that believes renewable energy is a key piece in meeting the world’s growing energy demands. He received an environmental science degree from the University of California and has worked to promote environmentally and socially sustainable practices since. Eric’s expertise extends across the environmental field, yet he maintains a strong focus on renewable energy. His work has been featured by leading environmental organizations, such as World Resources Institute and Hitachi ABB Power Grids.Read more