Top 6 Environmentally Friendly Energy Sources
With the earth receiving adverse impacts from the use of fossil fuels, the focus is gradually shifted towards environmentally friendly energy sources.
In this article, we discussed the top 6 environmentally friendly energy sources out there but before we begin.
What is an Environmentally Friendly Energy Source?
An environmentally friendly energy source is an energy source that has very minimal impact on the environment. Though environmentally friendly energy sources consist of majorly renewable energy sources, environmentally friendly energy sources are different from renewable energy.
The key to environmentally friendly energy sources is that they don’t harm the environment by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They emit very little or no pollutants to the environment which could cause air pollution, water pollution or land pollution.
Environmentally friendly energy sources are very important in this century, this is because they have been an accumulation of greenhouse emissions by fossil-fuelled energy which are not environmentally sustainable leading to an increase in gases like carbon dioxide, methane, etc
And these energy sources are responsible for global warming, climate change and ozone layer depletion but environmentally friendly energy sources have helped and is still helping to mitigate the harm caused by fossil fuel energy balancing the ecosystem.
Though environmentally friendly energy sources are not very popular in use with most of the world’s energy sources still fossil fuel-powered, environmentally friendly energy sources are growing in popularity yearly with integration in the commercial, residential and transport sectors.
Environmentally friendly energy sources are also energy sources that are friendly to humans who is a very crucial part of the environment.
Fossil fuel energy has been characterised by a high mortality rate as a result of industrial accidents which are majorly accustomed to fossil-fuelled energy. Environmentally friendly energy sources are often readily available.
What Makes an Energy Source Eco-friendly?
The following are factors that make an energy source friendly.
- Zero Carbon Footprint
- Green Living
- Pollution Reduction
- Fewer Production Accidents
1. Zero Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint is the net carbon emission of an individual, event, company, place or product but in this case a product.
For an energy source to be eco-friendly means that the energy source has very little to zero net carbon emission which are the greenhouse gases per day.
This form of energy source raises no question of an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because there is no greenhouse gas release as there is no burning of fossil fuels of any sort.
The integration of eco-friendly energy sources should help balance the excess emission caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
2. Green Living
Green Living is a lifestyle that tries to integrate everyday living with the use of products that try to reduce the use of the Earth’s natural resources or the use of products that are not used up over time.
Eco-friendly energy sources are energy sources that try to reduce the use of natural resources. Fossil fuel energy sources make use of the burning of some natural resources like coal, crude oil, wood, natural gas, etc.
This not only causes adverse effects to the environment but also reduce these resources which can cause loophole because these resources are not replaced.
But when eco-friendly energy sources are used, it enhances green living because the energy sources which are natural resources are not being used up.
E.g. solar energy which uses sunlight, wind energy which uses the wind, and hydroelectric dams which uses water as their natural resource.
3. Pollution Reduction
Environmental pollution is one of the environmental problems the world faces currently and this has been accelerated by the burning of fossil fuels.
Fossil burning has deleterious effects on the environment causing air pollution from gas flaring and exhaust from vehicles, land and water pollution from the production and transportation of fossil fuels.
But eco-friendly energy sources produce very minimal pollution with the most significant pollution having to be the use of a large mass of land.
Eco-friendly energy sources help in the net reduction of environmental pollution because of their low pollution yield balancing out fossil fuel pollution production.
The more eco-friendly energy sources are used to replace fossil fuel energy, the more the net pollution caused by energy production would be reduced.
4. Fewer Production Accidents
Eco-friendly energy sources are energy sources that are relatively safe from the production level to the consumption level. They are categorized with a low amount of accidents.
Eco-friendly energy sources are human-friendly energy sources and this is because of their low statistics in production accidents.
According to Our World in Data, Brown Coal, Coal and Oil have a higher amount of death rates in energy production per terawatt-hour (TWh) amounting to 32.72, 24.64 and 18.43 respectively
compared to the values of (0.02, 0.02, 0.04) death rate in energy production per terawatt-hour (TWh) for eco-friendly energy sources solar, hydroelectric power and wind respectively and these accidents result from the mining and extraction of the fuels (coal, oil and gas).
This also results from the accidents that occur in the transportation of these fossil fuel materials. But the corresponding eco-friendly still has accidents accustomed to it but these accidents occur very rarely giving eco-friendly energy sources a high level of safety.
Top 6 Environmentally Friendly Energy Sources
- Solar Energy
- Wind Energy
- Hydroelectric Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Biomass Energy
1. Solar Energy
Solar Energy is simply the harnessing of the radiation from the sunlight for energy production. The sun produces a very vast amount of solar radiation and a huge amount of this radiation reaches the earth and is scattered all over the earth.
From time immemorial, the sun has been used as a source of energy helping domestically in the drying of cloths and the like.
It is only recently since the development of commercial solar panels which help in the capturing and conversion of solar energy to solar power by Charles Fritts in the year 1881 that solar energy has been truly harnessed for the production of electricity.
Solar Energy is one of the most popular environmentally friendly energy sources with its popularity growing yearly and its acceptability by countries and organizations and apart from the fact that this energy source is environmentally friendly.
It is also cheap and can be installed on someone’s building making it available to consumers like individuals, businesses and organizations. Solar energy is an essential source of renewable energy. Below are some types of solar energy systems;
Types of Solar Energy
- Photovoltaic Systems
- Thin Film Solar Cells
- Solar Water Heating Systems
- Solar Power Plants
- Passive Solar Heating
Advantages of Solar Energy
There are some factors that have made solar energy to be more acceptable;
- Solar power is relatively cheaper in the long term.
- Solar energy helps in cleaning up our air.
- Solar energy helps keep our homes powered during blackouts.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Though everyone seems to be going into solar-powered energy, there are some backlogs that this environmentally friendly energy has and they are;
- A location can be lacking in sunlight for days and this results in no power because of no sunlight, no power.
- Solar panels consume a lot of space especially if the energy production is for commercial use.
- To store solar energy is costly because of the batteries involved.
- Solar panels can damage the roof of your for consumers.
2. Wind Energy
Wind energy though a significant environmentally friendly energy source is usually classified as a type of solar energy.
This is because wind speed and direction is controlled by temperature differences between locations majorly propelled by solar radiation. Wind energy describes the kind of energy that is gotten from harnessing the wind through the use of a wind turbine.
A wind turbine converts kinetic energy from the spinning of the turbine into mechanical power to power a generator for the conversion of mechanical power to electricity.
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing environmentally friendly energy sources out there owing to the fact that the price of environmentally friendly energy sources are on a massive decline because the world is opening up to see the need for these environmentally friendly energy sources.
Below are the types of wind energy.
Types of Wind Energy
- Utility-scale wind energy
- Offshore wind energy
- Distributed or “small” scale wind energy
Advantages of Wind Energy
There are some factors that have made wind energy to be more acceptable;
- Wind power is cost-effective
- Wind Energy helps in the creation of jobs
- Wind Turbines can be built on existing farm ranches
Disadvantages of Wind Energy
Though wind energy seems to be growing very fast in popularity, there are some backlogs that this environmentally friendly energy has and they are;
- Wind turbines take a huge space of land
- Wind turbine kills birds that fly in the area.
- Wind turbine movement causes noise and aesthetic pollution.
3. Hydroelectric Energy
Hydroelectric power is the production of electricity from the mechanical movement of water.
As water moves, it generates kinetic energy which is used to drive turbines powering up a generator that convert the potential energy of falling or fast-moving water into mechanical energy.
Transformers are used to convert the alternating voltage suitable for the generators to a higher voltage suitable for long-distance transmission.
Hydroelectric energy is also called hydropower. Hydroelectric energy is the most widely used form of environmentally friendly energy source.
Unlike wind energy and solar energy, hydroelectric energy cannot be used on a small or singular basis because for hydroelectric power to be produced, there must be the construction of a dam that does not only take a huge space but also it needs to be located on large moving water.
Hydroelectric energy as one of the environmentally friendly energy sources is used for massive power production which could be for a community or a state.
Types of Hydroelectric Energy
- Pumped storage
- Run of the river
- Tidal power
Advantages of Hydroelectric Energy
- Hydroelectric power dams for the production of electricity has the capacity of meeting peak electricity demand.
- Hydroelectric energy pairs well with other environmentally friendly energy sources.
Disadvantages of Hydroelectric Energy
- Hydroelectric energy is expensive upfront and this is because of the expensiveness in the construction of a dam and other hydroelectric facilities.
- Hydroelectric energy lack an available reservoir for the storage of
- Hydroelectric power plants can be adversely affected by the surrounding environment.
- Hydroelectric power production relies on the locality’s hydrology which is controlled by the weather and precipitation trends.
4. Geothermal Energy
Simply put, geothermal energy is the heat stored beneath the Earth’s crust. The earth’s core has about the same temperature as the sun’s surface and this is due to the slow decay of radioactive particles in rocks at the centre of the Earth.
Lots of this heat usually escape from beneath the Earth in form of volcanic eruptions and geysers.
But this heat can be captured and transformed into geothermal energy by the use of deep wells which are drilled to transport heated underground water which is transported to the surface and is being used to operate a turbine for the creation of electricity.
Geothermal energy as one of the environmentally friendly energy sources is very powerful. The process is both natural and cost-effective.
Types of Geothermal Energy
The four commercial types of geothermal power plants are;
- Dry Steam Geothermal System
- Flash Steam Geothermal System
- Binary Cycle Geothermal System
- Enhanced Geothermal System
Advantages of Geothermal Energy
- Geothermal Energy has significant potential for water supply
- Since it can be built underground, it leaves very little footprint on the land.
- Geothermal energy is renewable energy so, there is no fear of depletion.
Disadvantages of Geothermal Energy
- Though the geothermal energy production process is cost-effective, it is costly to build a geothermal facility.
- This environmentally friendly energy source is prone to volcanoes, earthquakes and other geoenvironmental disasters.
5. Biomass Energy
Also known as Biofuel, this is the conversion of fuel from plant materials for the production of electricity.
Biomass is organic material that comes from waste generated from agricultural, industrial and domestic processes including plants and animals. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy produces heat which can be used to produce or generate electricity with a steam turbine.
From the conversion of agricultural, industrial and domestic waste into solid, liquid and gas fuel, biomass generates power that incurs a very little economic and environmental cost.
Though biomass energy production involves burning which is not environmentally friendly, biomass energy could serve as a low-carbon option under the right circumstances.
For example, sawdust and chips from sawmills that would otherwise quickly decompose and release carbon can be one of the environmentally friendly energy sources.
Types of Biomass Energy
Biomass can be split into two distinct categories:
- Waste biomass
- Energy Crops
Advantages of Biomass Energy
Some of the advantages of biomass energy are:
- Biomass is always and widely available as a renewable source of energy.
It is carbon neutral.
It reduces the overreliance of fossil fuels.
- Is less expensive than fossil fuels.
- Biomass production adds a revenue source for manufacturers.
- Less garbage in landfills.
Disadvantages of Biomass Energy
While the advantages of biomass energy are plenty, there are also some shortcomings, including:
- Biomass energy is not as efficient as fossil fuels
- It is not entirely clean
- Can lead to deforestation.
- Biomass plants require a lot of space.
6. Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy is the cleanest form of energy. Nuclear energy is the energy that comes from the splitting of the nucleus of an atom or the bond that holds atoms together in a reactor. This energy is very massive
As one of the environmentally friendly energy sources, for the energy to be released, there is two processes that might happen, and they are; nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.
In nuclear fusion, energy is released when atoms are combined or fused together to form larger atoms. While nuclear fission is the energy that is produced when atoms split. Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to produce electricity.
A nuclear reactor, or power plant, is a series of machines that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity. This energy is then used to heat water into steam, turn a turbine and produce or generate electricity.
Nuclear energy is an environmentally friendly energy source that has zero emissions providing electricity 24/7 and propels our society into the future.
Advantages of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy offers many advantages and its unique value cannot be found in any other energy source.
- Nuclear energy produces electricity reliably.
- Nuclear energy is the cleanest form of energy with no trace of pollutant and if adapted more could help balance the loss caused by environmentally degrading energy sources.
- Because of its reliability, nuclear energy helps developing nations meet sustainable development goals.
- Nuclear energy powers electric vehicles. When powered by carbon-free nuclear energy, electrified transportation promises to reduce carbon emissions.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- Nuclear power plants are larger and more complicated than other power plants. This complexity causes the cost of a nuclear power plant to be much higher than other environmentally friendly energy sources.
- There are dramatic accidents with the high fatality of power plant accidents though this doesn’t occur often as a result of strict safety measures.
- Nuclear power plants make use of a lot of water for the production of energy.
- Nuclear energy production produces radioactive waste which is not harmful greenhouse gases but is a hazardous waste and can be detrimental to humans.
- Nuclear is non-renewable compared to the other environmentally friendly energy sources which are renewable.
What are other names for environmentally friendly energy sources?
Some other names for environmentally friendly energy are:
- Zero-carbon Energy
- Low-carbon Energy
- Eco-friendly Energy
- Earth-friendly Energy
- Green Energy
What is the cleanest energy sources?
Nuclear energy is the cleanest energy source. It has a zero-emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane giving it a very minimal carbon footprint.