The use of renewable energies is one of the keys to achieving energy sustainability. In addition to seeking efficiency in the use of energy, in order not to waste it, we must take advantage of energies that do not exhaust resources and have less environmental impact.
What are renewable energies?
Renewable energies are those obtained from natural sources, inexhaustible or with unlimited renewal capacity. As we were saying, these energies have become an essential element to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve sustainability at a global level (BBVA, 2019).
They are characterized by not using fossil fuels and are also known as alternative or green energies (Factor Energía, 2018). Their low environmental impact is due to the fact that they do not generate waste and are indigenous energy sources, because they can be developed depending on the characteristics of the site (BBVA, 2019).
There are various types of renewable energy: among others, that which takes advantage of solar radiation, that which uses the kinetic force of wind, that which uses the thrust of water currents, and those that process plant or animal biomass (Factor Energía, 2018). We will analyze them in detail below.
Types of renewable energies
It is the one that comes from the direct use of solar radiation, from which heat and electricity are obtained. The latter can be stored or fed into the power grid. Heat is provided by thermal collectors and electricity by photovoltaic panels (Mundo Chapín, 2018).
Solar thermoelectric energy is also available. This uses solar radiation to heat a fluid (which can be water), to produce steam and drive a turbine that generates electricity (Factor Energía, 2018).
Solar energy is one of the renewables with the greatest potential for development, because the sun can be harnessed anywhere in the world. In addition, this type of renewable can serve in places where exporting energy is very complicated and costly (BBVA, 2019).
Given Guatemala’s geographical position, solar radiation is available almost all year round (Mundo Chapín, 2018).
Electricity generation is carried out with wind power. As a result of its movement, kinetic energy can be transformed into useful energy for water pumping and electric power generation, among other things (Chapin World, 2018).
Windmills in wind farms are connected to electricity generators, which transform the wind that turns their blades into electrical energy (Factor Energía, 2018).
Wind farms offer a good solution for many regions, due to the low cost of electricity production and their non-polluting nature (BBV. 2019).
It is the energy obtained from the water currents of rivers. Gravity causes water to flow from higher ground to lower ground. This creates a force that can drive turbine generators and produce electricity (Mundo Chapín, 2018).
Hydroelectric power is another well-known energy source. It uses the force of water in its course to generate electricity and is usually produced in dams (Factor Energy, 2018).
It should be taken into account that, although hydropower is renewable, because it does not pollute and, due to the water cycle, is inexhaustible, the construction of dams or water flow retention systems does cause an environmental impact by modifying the ecosystem (BBVA, 2019).
It is the set of renewable organic matter of vegetable or animal origin or from the natural or artificial transformation of the same. Energy is obtained through burning it or processing it into another type of fuel (Chapin World, 2018).
Anaerobic digesters, devices used to process these organic wastes, are necessary for their conversion. After processing, biogas is obtained (BBVA, 2019).
As we said, to get there, biomass is needed first (BBVA, 2019). By biodegrading organic matter, using microorganisms, in oxygen-free devices, a combustible gas is generated, which is used to produce electrical energy (Factor Energía, 2018).
Energy from the sea
Tidal or wave energy (depending on whether it harnesses tidal or wave power), is the production of electrical energy thanks to the force of the sea (Factor Energía, 2018).
The methodology used involves the installation of generators, which harness the movement of seawater in a manner similar to wind turbines (BBVA, 2019).
It is the energy from the heat accumulated in the earth’s crust that can be used for the production of heat and electric power from the earth’s natural steam. In Guatemala, this resource is exploited in thermal baths in Quetzaltenango, Chiquimula, Santa Rosa, El Progreso, Jalapa, Totonicapán and Quiché (Mundo Chapín, 2018).
Geothermal energy takes advantage of the high temperatures of reservoirs below the earth’s surface (usually volcanic) for power generation through heat, because they are usually at 100 to 150 degrees Celsius (Factor Energía, 2018).
The FAO anticipated some time ago that this type of energy would be very beneficial in developing countries, because it can be used in food drying or pasteurization and sterilization of milk (BBVA, 2019).
10 benefits of renewable energies
– They are planet-friendly and environmentally friendly, as an alternative to non-renewable energies, which contribute to climate change because they do not generate carbon dioxide and improve air quality.
– They help minimize dependence on fossil fuels. In this way, they promote productive and environmental sustainability and help to advance towards the energy transition.
- They are inexhaustible and free of charge. This is why it provides many countries with energy independence: it allows them to produce electricity in their own way and with their own resources.
- Generate direct and indirect jobs. In this way, they contribute to the economic development of the regions, generating labor and financial prosperity.
- They can help lower electricity production costs in favor of the end user. Technological advances in this area have made production less costly.
- Limits environmental damage from extractive industries, which can pollute water, soil and air.
- They help reduce the generation of harmful waste and residues. And they provide an effective answer to the problem of solid waste control, because they can generate electricity from organic waste (such as biomass).
- They offer access to electricity to remote populations, where it is difficult to supply it through the public grid. Because most of the renewable energy sources are located in remote areas with difficult geographical conditions. Moreover, these energies can be developed on a small scale, even at the user level, thus offering an economical, efficient and environmentally friendly option.
- They are competitive and have worldwide support. They offer a good price to users and receive great political support: there are international commitments to promote them as efficient and environmentally friendly.
- They are safe for nearby populations because, through their processes, they cannot cause disasters or large-scale problems (Geologyweb, 2021).
Trends in the application of renewable energies in the world
The renewable energy industry has a lot of work ahead of it. The sector faces major challenges and the great challenge of accelerating the energy transition to achieve the targets set for 2050.
To achieve this, three strong trends are currently driving the market:
Innovation and digitalization
Innovation and growing technology are making it possible to expand the installed capacity and its operation. Digitalization is generating new high-efficiency solutions. Recording and analyzing data provides insight into the status of the generating sources, enables early detection of faults and improved results. It also generates employment and provides business opportunities for small and medium-sized companies.
It will also allow renewable energies to compete with traditional energies, thanks to lower prices, because technical progress and increased demand are driving down investment costs in renewable energies.
Thanks to digitalization, governments can count on IoT(Internet of Things) tools, in combination with artificial intelligence, to address the challenges of the energy transition. In this way, an optimized match between energy generation and demand can be made at the regional level, anticipating a more demand-centered energy future, where energy supply follows specific load profiles (Information, 2021).
To combat climate change, many states are committing to a 100% renewable energy grid by 2050. To this end, they must collaborate with the private sector and society (increasingly environmentally committed) to promote renewable energies. They must innovate technologically and adapt legislative frameworks in favor of clean energy for an effective energy transition (Information, 2021).
A more secure power grid with better storage
The increase in temperature and climatic instability cause drops in the power grid, which is why it is necessary to increase its resistance. In addition, energy storage is progressively growing and electrification is expected to increase due to the growing number of electric cars and smart buildings. For all these reasons, demand and production monitoring and control and advanced and secure storage technologies are needed (Information, 2021).
As you can see, in this time of energy transition, renewable energies are of fundamental importance. They face great challenges, but a very hopeful horizon is also opening up for them.