Renewable energy some characteristics

Solar energy manifests itself as low-temperature solar heat, high-temperature solar heat, wind electricity and photovoltaics. Low-temperature solar heat is produced by the absorption of sunlight by darkened surfaces that convert it into heat, which can be used for warming water or other fluids. High-temperature solar heat can be obtained by focusing sunlight and heating fluids to a high temperature so that they can be used to generate electricity. The warming of the atmosphere by solar heating leads to turbulence manifested as wind, which can be used to generate electricity. Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of the ultraviolet component of sunlight into electricity in appropriate surfaces. These forms of energy are all, by definition, renewable.

Geothermal energy manifests itself in the form of hot water or vapour and can be used for heat or electricity production in some specific regions. It is generally considered to be a renewable energy source. Tidal energy can be used to generate electricity in some coastal areas and is also a renewable source of energy.

Hydropower is indirectly linked to sunlight, which evaporates the water in the oceans, which then precipitates on land masses as rain, and forms rivers. Dams are built on the resulting rivers to create reservoirs, which guarantee a steady supply of water for electricity generation. A large dam is a dam with a height of 15 metres or more, measured from the foundation. Small dams are smaller than that or have no storage reservoir. Usually they produce less than 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Large hydropower plants flooding large areas might displace people and have undesirable ecological or social impacts, so they are considered to be a non-renewable resource by some. Small hydropower plants are usually not affected by such problems.

A small part of the solar energy reaching the earth is converted by photosynthesis into biomass (organic matter). Some of this matter was buried in the distant past (hundreds of millions of years) by sedimentation and earthquakes and transformed by bacterial action into coal, oil and gas, which constitute the present fossil fuel resources (which are not renewable). Biomass is usually regarded as a renewable energy except when leading to deforestation.

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