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Benefits of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy technologies play a significant role in creating a sustainable electricity system and reducing the harmful effects of electricity generation on our natural environment and our climate.
Unlike conventional forms of generation such as nuclear, coal and gas-fired generators, renewable energy technologies do not emit harmful greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. Also, they do not rely on non-renewable carbon-based fuel or produce harmful radioactive waste as nuclear power does.
Renewable energy technologies, as the name would suggest, rely on fuels that are renewable, not finite. The most common "fuels" that they harness for the generation of electricity are wind, sun, water and biomass, such as wood chips, wheat chaff, manure and waste. These fuels are abundant, widely available, and capable of supplying all of humanity's energy needs, given the right technology to harness them.
The other great thing about renewables is that they require only a relatively simple process and very few conversions to make the energy useful. For example, Hermann Scheer details in his book, The Solar Economy, how many steps and conversions it takes to change a lump of coal to electricity. The coal has to be mined, refined, transported to the generation plant where it is converted from chemical to heat energy by burning it. The heat is then used to create steam, the steam drives the turbine, converting to mechanical energy, and finally, the mechanical energy is changed to electricity. Finally, the electricity is transported through high voltage lines over long distances, and has to be ‘stepped down' to increasingly lower voltages to make it usable in the home.
These steps incur costs to both the economy and the environment as well as resulting in the loss of significant amount of energy. In comparison, solar energy is very simple to harness. The fuel (the sun) is free and available at the generating site, and the electricity created is used at the site. The sunlight is converted into direct current by the photovoltaic cell, and then needs only be changed to alternating current to power your home. This is a much simpler process.
The main technologies used to generate renewable energy today are wind turbines, solar heat and photovoltaic systems, small-scale hydro, tidal, and wave installations, and biomass and biogas installations.
OSEA believes that a 100 per cent renewable energy grid in Ontario is fully achievable. OSEA's activities are designed to support the goal of 100 per cent renewables. Our mission is to facilitate the transition to a sustainable energy economy in Ontario by developing and supporting community-based sustainable energy initiatives.
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 1:37:59 PM
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