Most people agree that renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, solar power and hydroelectric power are good for the environment, but it is not always a simple task to harness the energy. Solar power is becoming more popular and many houses have their own solar panels installed to help cut down on electricity and gas bills. They may not be as complicated as a wind turbine or hydroelectric dam, but they still require expertise to create and install. Here are some factors you may not have thought of when it comes to obtaining renewable energy.
These are relatively easy to install and hook up to mains supplies, but it is still a skilled industry with its own standards to be adhered to – just like gas and electric fitting is. The solar panels themselves are quite expensive to make though, which doesn’t help the environment due to the processes involved.
The mining of minerals and them importing and exporting of goods makes the construction of solar panels have quite a carbon footprint, but the length of time they are used can help the environment. When compared to fossil fuels over decades they are much more environmentally friendly. The technology for making them cheaper is advancing all of the time too, although how it is done may not be classed as ‘technology’ in the traditional sense as seen here.
The technology in wind power is fairly similar to the turbines which are used in traditional fossil fuel burning power stations. This means that the technology has been revised and improved over a long period of time, but the actual construction methods are much more involved compared to solar panels.
The components which make up wind turbines are fabricated offsite and then constructed onsite, but these sites are often hard to access or require work to get the equipment into place.
One such example is that of Caton Moor wind farm, which is near Lancaster in the UK. Due to its position on moorland, it was difficult to get the heavy machinery and lifting equipment to the site without preparation. Roads had to be made and the earth had to be strengthened to accommodate the installation of the wind farm. This was done in a way which would allow as much of the moorland to stay as it is and reap the benefits from the wind power to help the environment as much as possible.
Hydroelectric dams provide huge amounts of energy from the control of water flows, but the have arguably the largest environmental impact – both from their construction and the after effects. Although the energy is renewable, they can often cause damage to the environment as large areas above dams will have to be flooded to create the controlled water flow. This can destroy large areas of eco-systems, which are endangered anyway.
In addition to this, they take a long time to build over many years, which can be a huge undertaking and use up a lot of resources, such as the Hoover Dam in the US. As with the other methods, they do become worthwhile after different amounts of time, with dams taking the longest, but being able to be used for decades or maybe even centuries to come afterwards.