Learn about renewable energy and how to get started with it
Published 26 Mar 2023
Renewable energy is any form of energy that comes from naturally-replenishing sources. Also known as “clean energy,” renewable energy comes in abundance from nature. However, it is not readily available as the energy from these natural resources may take time to process into the kind of energy that we could use depending on the source and how much is taken from them at a time.
Renewable energy is not anything new. The earth and its inhabitants are full of energy that, when harnessed properly, can help improve the quality of life and protect nature. Historically, before power plants were made, the main energy sources of society came from the by-products of living things, a.k.a., fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are the dominant source of energy today but renewable energy sources have also increased with time, promoting a circular economy approach.
Biomass energy is any energy taken from plants and animals. Common modern examples of biomass sources are wood waste, agricultural waste from crops, animal and human manure, and other biodegradable materials found in city waste. From biomass, ethanol and biodiesel are created, which are also used as renewable energy sources.
Geothermal energy is taken from the earth’s heat. Specifically, this energy is from the earth’s subsurface where intense heat is found.
As it is deep within the earth, this energy can only be accessed through power plants. Using wells, people dig deep into the ground and create underground reservoirs to find the earth’s core and get its heat, which is released through steam and hot water. The energy derived from it is used for heating and electricity.
Today, the top renewable energy source is wind energy. Wind energy is generated with the help of wind turbines and wind farms. Wind farms are often located in mountainous areas or in any spacious area where strong natural winds are present.
For countries making the switch to renewable energy, wind energy is the most common form utilized. In recent years, this form of energy has seen an increase in being the preferred energy source for providing electricity in both countryside and cities.
Hydroelectric energy or hydropower is energy that is derived from water. This energy is harnessed with the help of dams, storage systems, and pumps. The dams and reservoirs created for this are often also relied upon as flood control systems and irrigation support. In some cases, the structures built for hydroelectric dams are also used in filtering water for public consumption.
Solar energy is energy taken from the sun’s rays and heat. Through solar panels, sunlight is converted into electricity that’s ready for use while the excess converted energy is stored in batteries for future use or when there’s no available sunlight. Meanwhile, heat from the sun can be used instead of conventional electricity to help provide heating for spaces, water, and air.
The main difference between renewable energy and non-renewable energy is that the sources for renewable energy will naturally replenish over time. On the other hand, non-renewable energy sources take very long to replenish and are also at risk of running out one day.
Around 80% of the energy used today comes from non-renewable energy sources such as oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Non-renewable energy is relatively cheaper to produce and maintain compared to renewable energy, which is why it is the preferred form of energy for public consumption. Here are a few tips for businesses to reduce energy costs.
Although cheaper, non-renewable energy is considered to be more harmful to the environment in the long run. The different processes required to harness it have been known to damage seas with oil spills, pollute the air with greenhouse gases, and, if not properly managed, can cause accidents due to radiation leaks and improper waste management.
Seeing the international rise in efforts for promoting and utilizing renewable energy, many believe that renewable energy will be the future. A study shows that some governments around the world have begun implementing mandates to promote renewable energy use to live more sustainably. Private sectors have also begun investing in more renewable energy efforts such as the financing of solar-powered housings, construction of hydropower dams and windmill farms, among others. In the Oil and Gas (O&G) sector, renewable energy is also viewed to be a part of the future of oil.
On the ground level, households and smaller businesses have also taken to switching out their electricity sources to more renewable ones, mostly through solar panels. As solar panels have become more accessible to the market, they are now reasonably priced and easy to install, providing people an alternative electricity source, often for emergencies.
However, getting started with renewable energy may pose some challenges. As it is constantly evolving, there are many procedures and equipment that may not be familiar to people at first glance. Safety can be put at risk when dealing with installing and maintaining the necessary equipment needed.
Carbon footprint refers to the traces of greenhouse gases produced by human activities. Business processes often emit greenhouse gases during manufacturing, transportation, and energy usage. Using renewable energy sources and technologies can help lower life cycle emissions of CO2 substantially, especially when used in green buildings.
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To help mitigate these risks and ensure a safe journey into renewable energy, it is important to have a safety inspection checklist first before proceeding with your installation. Having a checklist for both installation and maintenance can be beneficial for ensuring both those working on the equipment and the equipment itself are in good condition. It would also be best to use a digital inspection checklist to reduce paper use and to better access them on the go.
One such app you can use is SafetyCulture. It is one of the best cloud-based safety and inspection software that allows everyone involved to be in constant communication, schedule inspections, have their reports in one place to access anytime. Team leaders and managers can easily assign actions and provide notes for context. This app can be accessed from all sorts of devices, from a Windows computer to an Android device, and all iOS products as well.
SafetyCulture also offers free checklists templates. These can be customized depending on your needs. With these templates, you can:
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See how E Light Electric, a solar panel installation company, uses SafetyCulture to ensure that they can work at their best through ensuring their employees’ safety.
Red Energy is an Australian solar design company that specializes in providing solar solutions to the fields of agriculture, tourism, and education. This is the checklist they use to help them with their installation procedures. With this, they record the results of their work on the spot as well as the clients’ comments.
This template is for inspecting solar panels that directly convert sunlight to electricity. Installers can use this checklist as a guide for their inspections and their troubleshooting.
Roselin Manawis is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. She has experience in news writing and content marketing across different fields of discipline. Her background in Communication Arts enables her to leverage multimedia and improve the quality of her work. She also contributed as a research assistant for an international study and as a co-author for two books in 2020. With her informative articles, she aims to ignite digital transformation in workplaces around the world.
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