Which Power Generation Method is Most Effective: Solar, Wind or Hydro?


Credits: Energy Next
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The fact that energy consumption continues to increase alongside the depletion of natural resources that are used to generate power is a major worldwide concern. It is only a matter of time before we run out of these natural resources, making the need to find a renewable source of power generation undeniably urgent. Since thermal fueled power plants will soon become obsolete, and renewable power source is all the hype, we will now discuss which electricity generation method is most suited to replace conventional power generation methods.

It is important to note here that the power production modes are selected based upon the financial capabilities and in relation to local demand within the area.

Credits: Social Engineer

Hydro-Electricity is produced using the kinetic energy of the falling or flowing water. In 2015, 16.6% of total electricity generated was sourced from water, making up 70% of all renewable electricity generated. This mode of power generation is used in 150 countries, most commonly in Asia in the Pacific ocean, with China being the country utilizing this method the most. The most common advantages to hydro power are that it is: sustainable, environmentally friendly after establishment, and is able to generate a large amount of energy from a modest sized station.  However, constructing a Hydro-power plant is both disruptive to ecology and expensive, especially when it cannot be dispatched.

Credits: Yokogawa

Wind Power is accumulated from wind turbines that harness kinetic energy from wind. In 2015, statistics showed an increase of 17% in annual wind turbine power generation, with Europe, Asia, and the United States demonstrating a greater inclination towards this method. In 2011, wind power was used by 83 countries on a commercial scale, constituting 3% of the total electricity generated worldwide in 2013. This technology is favored for many reasons, the most prominent of which being its sustainability and cost efficiency. Other factors include that wind power is eco-friendly, requires little to no cooling water, and is damage-resistance in instances of natural disaster or war. However, there are a few reasons as to why there hasn’t been widespread use of this technology, such as its high dependence upon favorable weather conditions. Additionally, for mass usage, the number of wind turbines utilized needs to increase, in which case the noise can be a further complicating factor.

Credits: Mitsui

Solar Energy harnesses the power of the sun and converts the light and heat energy that it provides into electricity. The first way to produce electricity is to directly convert the sunlight into electricity, storing heat during the day-time and generating electricity from this heat at night. Directly converting the energy is beneficial as the process of storing electricity is a relatively inefficient process. The second way to produce electricity is to use solar thermal energy to heat a liquid or gas, which in turn is used to power a steam engine or gas turbine. The former method is known as the solar photovoltaic (PV) method, while the latter is known as the solar thermal method. Together, these methods make up 4% of world’s total power generation. The harnessing of solar energy is both sustainable and emits zero pollution. Solar PV technology is rapidly becoming a more economic option, and solar thermal technology proves effective even when the sun is not shining by storing heat. The disadvantages of solar power include the fact that a large area is required in which to deploy, and an increased amount of power is required for the manufacturing of solar PV.

Credits: Forbes

Consequently, in addition to the benefits and drawbacks of each method of renewable power generation, the region and demands of any given area, along with the ever varying economic reforms, will have ultimate influence upon the choice of power generation method.

Credits: Ramblings of a Bush Philosopher

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