Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy Technologies

 

Renewable Energy—wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass—provides substantial benefits for our climate, our health, and our economy.

 

All energy sources have some impact on our environment. Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—do substantially more harm than renewable energy sources by most measures, including air and water pollution, damage to public health, wildlife and habitat loss, water use, land use, and global warming emissions.

 

However, renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydro-power also have environmental impacts, some of which are significant.

 

The exact type and intensity of environmental impacts varies depending on the specific technology used, the geographic location, and a number of other factors. By understanding the current and  potential environmental issues associated with each renewable energy source, we can takes steps to effectively avoid or minimize these impacts as they become a larger portion of our electric supply.

 

 

Environmental Impacts of Wind Power

Wind power generates electricity without toxic pollution or global warming emissions, but it does have some environmental impacts that should be recognized and mitigated.

 

Wind power

Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Wind is also abundant, inexhaustible, and affordable, which makes it a viable and large-scale alternative to fossil fuels.

 

Despite its vast potential, there are a variety of environmental impacts associated with wind power generation that should be recognized and mitigated. They include land use issues and challenges to wildlife and habitat.

Environmental Impact of Solar Power

The potential environmental impacts associated with solar power depend on the technology, which includes two broad categories: photovoltaic solar cells and concentrating solar thermal plants.

Solar Panel

Like wind power, the sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity.

 

The environmental impacts associated with solar power can include land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing, though the types of impacts vary greatly depending on the scale of the system and the technology used—photovoltaic (PV) solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP).

Environmental Impact of Geothermal Energy

Geothermal grows in Kenya

 

 

The most widely developed type of geothermal power plant (known as hydrothermal plants) are located near geologic “hot spots” where hot molten rock is close to the earth’s crust and produces hot water.

 

In other regions enhanced geothermal systems (or hot dry rock geothermal), which involve drilling into the earth’s surface to reach deeper geothermal resources, can allow broader access to geothermal energy.

 

Geothermal plants also differ in terms of the technology they use to convert the resource to electricity (direct steam, flash, or binary) and the type of cooling technology they use (water-cooled and air-cooled). Environmental impacts differ depending on the conversion and cooling technology used.

 

Environmental Impacts of Hydroelectric Power 

Hydroelectric power includes both massive hydroelectric dams and small run-of-the-river plants, both of which have associated environmental impacts.

 

Hydroelectric power

Hydroelectric power includes both massive hydroelectric dams and small run-of-the-river plants. Large-scale hydroelectric dams continue to be built in many parts of the world,but it is unlikely that new facilities will be added to the existing Africa fleet in the future.

Instead, the future of hydroelectric power in Africa will likely involve increased capacity at current dams and new run-of-the-river projects. There are environmental impacts at both types of plants.

 

Environmental impacts of Hydro-kinetic energy

Tidal flow

Hydrokinetic energy includes wave and tidal power and encompasses an array of energy technologies, many of which are still in the experimental stages or in the early stages of deployment.

 

Hydrokinetic energy;

Hydrokinetic energy, which includes wave and tidal power, encompasses an array of energy technologies, many of which still in the experimental stages or in the early stages of deployment. While actual impacts of large-scale operations have not been observed, a range of potential impacts can be projected.

Despite these environmental impacts, renewable energy technologies compare extremely favorably to fossil fuels, and remain a core part of the solution of climate change.

Renewable Energy

Solar Panel

Renewable Energy is energy that is collected from renewable resource, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

 

Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

 

Nigeria has enormous solar energy potential, with fairly distributed solar radiation averaging 19.8 MJm2/day and average sunshine hours of 6h/day. The assumed potential for concentrated solar power and photovoltaic generation is around 427,000 MW.

 

According to estimates, the designation of only 5% of suitable land in central and northern Nigeria for solar thermal would provide a theoretical generation capacity of 42,700 MW.

 

SOLAR RADIATIONS: Solar energy is also one of the oldest renewable energy sources in the world. This energy is taken from the sun in the form of solar radiation. There are basically three ways that we can use the sun’s energy;

  • Solar cells in which photovoltaic or photoelectric cells are used to convert light directly into electricity.
  • Solar water heating in which the heat from the sun is used to warm the water in glass panels of solar energy system therefore no longer requiring gas or electricity to heat the water.
  • Furnaces that use mirrors to capture the sun’s energy into a concentrated place to produce high temperatures.

Stable Energy Prices

Renewable energy is providing affordable electricity across the country right now, and can help stabilize energy prices in the future.

 

Although renewable facilities require upfront investments to build, they can then operate at very low cost (for most clean energy technologies, the “fuel” is free). As a result, renewable energy prices can be very stable over time.

 

Moreover, the costs of renewable energy technologies have declined steadily, and are projected to drop even more. For example, the average price to install solar dropped more than 70 percent between 2010 and 2017. The cost of generating electricity from wind dropped 66 percent between 2009 and 2016. Costs will likely decline even further as markets mature and companies increasingly take advantage of economies of scale.

 

In contrast, fossil fuel prices can vary dramatically and are prone to substantial price swings.

 

Using more renewable energy can lower the prices of and demand for natural gas and coal by increasing competition and diversifying our energy supplies. And an increased reliance on renewable energy can help protect consumers when fossil fuel prices spike and the Climate.

 

Needless to say, the intrinsic benefits of Renewable Energy is greatly untapped, which is why, at RS Engineering Global Limited, we are in business to develop and operates utility-scale solar PV projects for the wholesale and retail market in Africa. The Company also provides operation and maintenance (O&M) services for investor/owners.

 

 

We believe solar makes the world cleaner and healthier. Our team successfully develops, builds and operates solar facilities across Africa.”