Renewable Energy
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Renewable Energy
 
WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY?
Renewable energy is energy deriving from the use of energy sources that are abundant in nature and replenish naturally and continually. Such sources are the wind, sunlight, the motion of water, geothermal heat and other. In order for these sources to be put to use for the production of energy, no heavy intervention is necessary, such as extraction from the underground or combustion, and thus they are not polluting or threatening to the environment. Energy production from renewable sources comes merely from harnessing the already existing flow of energy in nature. Also known as green energy or clean energy, renewable energy is extremely friendly to the environment, as it results in no direct carbon dioxide emissions, toxic or radioactive waste, as other energy sources used today on a wide scale.

MAIN RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
The main renewable energy technologies currently used in the industry of energy production are the following:

Wind Power (Wind Turbine Generators)
Wind power is really yet another form of solar energy. About 1% to 3% of the solar energy that enters the earth’s atmosphere transforms into wind power, which is then, in a way, captured using wind turbine generators and converted to electric power. Electricity production from wind power is considered to be the technology with the highest growth potential, at a (historic) mean annual growth rate of about 26% (1990-2005).

Solar Power (Photovoltaic panels)
Solar power is energy collected through large photovoltaic panels, and converted to electric power, though solar energy is more commonly used for thermal purposes. Thanks to the progress made in photovoltaic panel technology however, which helped make panels more efficient for energy production purposes, and the European Union’s commitment to renewable energy, solar power has recently gained significant ground as a source of energy production.

Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectricity is electricity produced when gravitational potential energy or kinetic energy of vast water masses is ultimately converted to electric energy through an electric generator (a turbine). Hydroelectricity is currently the most widely used renewable energy production technology. Based on the capacity of the turbine used in hydroelectric plants, they are categorized as follows:

1. Hydroelectric Power Plant (>10 MW)
2. Small Hydroelectric Power Plant (<10 MW)
3. Very Small Hydroelectric Power Plant (<500 ΚW)

Biomass
Photosynthetic plants and other organisms collect energy, which is withheld and when released, through combustion for instance, can be used to produce either liquid biofuels (biodiesel, bioethanol and other) or biomass (more commonly used for thermal purposes). Biofuels are considered more carbon neutral, and therefore environmentally friendly.

Geothermal Energy
The process of radioactive corrosion of the earth’s underground rocks results in geothermal energy (heat), which can be used for thermal purposes or electricity generation. Iceland covers about 70% of the country’s energy needs thanks to renewable energy sources, mainly geothermal energy. Even though it is not renewable in the same pace as wind power for instance, it is considered as a renewable energy source.

WHY RENEWABLE ENERGY?
1. Renewable energy is extremely friendly to the environment, resulting in virtually zero waste and a practically neutral carbon print.
2. Renewable energy is naturally and almost eternally replenished.
3. Renewable energy can contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of developing countries, fostering sustainable development and helping these countries disengage from their dependence on oil. 
4. Renewable energy technologies are versatile and more flexible. They offer scalability, as energy production can be tailor made to suit the needs of each area on a local, decentralized level, and the need for vast central energy production units and transfer energy in long distances. 
5. Equipment is easier in its construction and maintenance and has a greater life span.