Exploratory Essay on Renewable Energy

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Explore potential renewable energy sources, optimum combinations, and efficiencies


Wind power is a method of renewable energy. It uses the wind to turn large blades attached to a rotor. The turbine rotor is attached to a gearbox. This gearbox converts the low speed of the rotor into a high-speed motion. The high-speed shaft is coupled to a generator. An exciter is needed to provide the required excitation to the magnetic coil of the generator so it can generate the required electricity. Wind power is one of the most widely used renewable energy sources. At this point in the UK, there are 8,335 wind turbines onshore and 2,016 wind turbines offshore with an Onshore Operational Capacity of 13554.665 MW and an Offshore Operational Capacity of 8,483.420 MW. In recent years there has been a sharp rise in the amount of wind turbines both on and offshore. 2010 the total global installed wind capacity reached some 196,630 MW showing sustained growth on 2009's 159,050 MW, 2008's 120MW, and 2007's 93,930 MW


Tidal energy is one of the oldest forms of energy used by humans. Tidal power is non-polluting safe and predicable. They operate using tidal barrages, a similar concept to wind turbines but driven by the sea. Unlike wind speeds and directions, tidal currents are entirely predictable.

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Tidal energy can be created in two ways:

    • By building semi-permeable barrages across estuaries with a high tidal range
    • By harnessing offshore tidal streams.

Barrages allow tidal waters to fill an estuary via sluices and when the water is leaving it passes through turbines, rotating the blades as it passes. The biggest example of a tidal barrage is the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station, South Korea. It creates an output capacity of 254MW the project was opened in 2011 for $355.1m and uses a 12.5km long seawall as its base. The annual generation capacity is 552.7GWh

Tidal energy does not result in the emission of gases so does not contribute to global warming the same way traditional energy sources do. Use of tidal energy could also reduce the need to use nuclear power and the radiation risks associated with nuclear power. Changing tidal patterns by building a dam could result in adverse impacts on aquatic and shoreline ecosystems.

There is a high upfront cost for tidal power so that is the main barrier to the use of tidal power also it takes a lot of time to build a tidal barrage and could have a 10-year construction period. So the electricity cost is very sensitive to the discount rate.


Biomass is a term for all plant and animal material, examples of biomass include straw, wood, and poultry litter.

    • Heat
    • Electricity
    • A combination of heat and power in a combined heat and power plant
    • A liquid fuel

Biomass is a renewable fuel as long as it comes from sustainable sources such as forest residues, tree surgery waste, energy crops, agricultural waste, and other wood residues (such as sawdust).

The major source of biomass burnt in UK power stations is wood pellets. In 2010 an estimated 0.2million tonnes were burnt in power stations compared to around 7.2 million tonnes in 2018. Also since the start of the decade, there has been an increase in the amount of wood pellets imported into the UK. In 2010 0.6 million tonnes of pellets were imported compared to 7.8 million tonnes in 2018.

Unlike other renewable sources of energy, the burning of biomass is NOT greenhouse gas friendly. Research is being carried out to determine the rates of emissions compared to that of burning fossil fuels

Biomass can be considered a renewable form of energy and electricity generation as its growth removes greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in soil, trees, and other vegetation. As such, it is argued that when managed and harvested sustainably, biomass can be used to help reduce carbon emissions.


Geothermal power is harnessed from the earth. Power plants utilize hydrothermal energy to create a very clean energy source. It is created from water sourced in the form of steam or hot water.

Energy is produced by utilizing dry steam or hot water accessed by digging wells. The steam or water is brought to the surface through pipes and processed into electricity in the power plant. There are three methods to process the energy. Dry steam, flash steam, and binary cycle. All three use steam to power a turbine that then powers a generator.

    • Dry steam plants use steam that is from beneath the earth's surface directly to the turbines.
    • Flash steam uses hot water from beneath the earth, this is then sprayed into a tank to create steam.
    • Binary cycle plants use moderate-temperature water which is then combined with another chemical to create steam

Geothermal is an extremely clean and renewable way to create energy. The major drawback is that geothermal plants cost a lot more to build and maintain than coal plants and wells have to be dug to harvest the water. There is no definite way to locate underground wells so guesswork is involved. It costs millions of pounds to dig a well.

Apart from producing electricity the water that is harvested using these methods can be used to heat buildings and can be used as a household hot water supply. In Iceland, the majority of the country uses geothermal sources of water as a hot water source and heating.


Hydropower is a method of creating electrical energy by using water. A hydroelectric power plant uses the potential energy of water, they are commonly based in hilly areas where dams can be easily built and large water reservoirs can be made. In a power plant, a head of water is created by building a dam across a lake or river.

A water turbine uses the kinetic energy of the water falling onto the turbine to spin the turbine and create mechanical energy. The turbine is coupled with an alternator and converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Hydropower plants are becoming extremely popular in today's age mainly due to the oil and coal resources becoming lesser over time. They also serve a very important purpose for irrigation and flood control.

Hydropower remains the world’s largest source of renewable electricity generation. It is responsible for 16.6 percent of global electricity production. Although hydropower is currently the largest. In the future other methods such as solar and wind power are set to overtake the future.

Solar energy.

The conversion of light energy into electrical energy is accomplished by using Solar photovoltaic panels. These panels use semiconductor materials, when exposed to light from the sun these materials absorb the light which causes free electrons in the material. Silicon is the most popular material for creating a photovoltaic cell. In addition to silicon, some of the other materials that can be used are Indium phosphide, gallium arsenide, cadmium sulfide, and germanium. But silicon is used in 90% of the world’s solar panels

    • There are many advantages to a photovoltaic solar panel
    • There are no movable mechanical components
    • No environmental pollution
    • Low maintenance
    • Service light of twenty to thirty years
    • The disadvantages are:
    • Their work depends on the amount of solar radiation, so less power will be created on a cloudy day
    • The power production is relatively low
    • High initial price (Although the price is falling)


For my project into building a renewable energy building, I have decided that I am going to place the 6m cuboid building in the car park of the Advanced Technologies Center. I will cover the roof with Photovoltaic panels which will produce electricity that will be used to charge batteries that will power the lights in the car park.

I will be placing it in the highlighted area of the car park area. I had an idea of placing it in the back corner but it would be too close to the MUGA and a solar panel could get damaged by a football or sports equipment. I am sure this is a good choice as it would also be on show to the members of the public passing down Hereford Road who will ask questions and be inspired by the idea of having a renewable energy center for the students at Grimsby College.

The main advantage of the center is that this building would inform and educate students on how solar panels and wind turbines work, rather than just learning about them in a classroom the students will be able to get up close to the building and see how the panels work face to face. The building can also be used on open days to inform the general public about the advantages of renewable energy and why we must turn into a more environmentally friendly country having this idea nearby schools, businesses, and colleges could inspire them to create their renewable energy center to power their premises.

Apart from having solar panels on the roof, there will also be a small vertical axis wind turbine outside the center, this would further attract and inspire locals to the college and teach them that they can be a part of the wind power, that is really starting to grow in this town, without having a Large horizontal axis wind turbine in their back garden. The building will also act as an information center about renewables. There will be displays and posters about the different types of renewable energy. From solar and wind power to lesser-known methods such as Geothermal and biomass.

The energy created will be stored in batteries and then fed to the consumer boards at the college where it will be used to power the lights in the car park, In the future if this project has a positive impact on the college and the surrounding areas a bigger, more powerful center will be completed and hopefully one day power the whole of the collage.

There will be a high start-up cost for installing the solar panels and the wind turbines but the attraction that will come to the college including new students, new partnerships with companies, and new sponsors will be invaluable to the college while also saving them money on the electricity bills.


    1. Electrical4U. 2020. Working Principle of Wind Turbine | Electrical4U. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.electrical4u.com/working-principle-of-wind-turbine. [Accessed January 2020].
    2. RenewableUK Association. 2020. Wind Energy Statistics - RenewableUK. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.renewableuk.com/page/UKWEDhome/Wind-Energy-Statistics.htm. [Accessed January 2020].
    3. A Complete Control Scheme for Variable Speed Stall Regulated Wind Turbines | IntechOpen 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.intechopen.com/books/fundamental-and-advanced-topics-in-wind-power/a-complete-control-scheme-for-variable-speed-stall-regulated-wind-turbines. [Accessed January 2020]
    4. Power Technology | Energy News and Market Analysis. 2020. Tidal giants - the world’s five biggest tidal power plants. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.power-technology.com/features/featuretidal-giants-the-worlds-five-biggest-tidal-power-plants-4211218/. [Accessed January 2020].
    5. Ocean Energy Council. 2020. Tidal Energy - Ocean Energy Council. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.oceanenergycouncil.com/ocean-energy/tidal-energy/. [Accessed 21 January 2020].
    6. A burning issue: biomass is the biggest source of renewable energy consumed in the UK - Office for National Statistics. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/aburningissuebiomassisthebiggestsourceofrenewableenergyconsumedintheuk/2019-08-30. [Accessed 21 January 2020].
    7. sciencing.com. 2020. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: https://sciencing.com/geothermal-energy-work-4564716.html. [Accessed 21 January 2020].
    8. Green Tech Box - Green Tech Information, Products, Guide and Reviews. 2020. Solar Panels - Working Principle, Design and Their Use. [ONLINE] Available at: https://greentechbox.com/green-products/solar-panels-working-principle-design-use.html. [Accessed 21 January 2020].
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Exploratory Essay on Renewable Energy. (2024, March 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/exploratory-essay-on-renewable-energy/
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