Solar energy is the energy we can derive directly from the sun’s rays. We can do this in two main ways.
Photovoltaic Cells are more commonly known as solar cells and they convert the sun’s rays directly into electricity which is then transformed into electricity which can be used in the home or exported into the electricity grid.
Solar Thermal uses the sun’s rays to heat water to store the heat for later use. This is the most common method used for solar hot water and is also now being used experimentally to produce high pressure steam to drive a turbine to produce electricity.
The problem with solar energy is that is intermittent in its source i.e. during the night and is variable in its intensity i.e. on cloudy days and during winter. This means that it is generally used in conjunction with a booster source or in low consumption installations where batteries are used as a backup.
Wind power is generated when the wind is used to drive a turbine to produce electricity. For wind power to be viable it needs to be located where the air movement is steady, strong and reliable, and the wind generators are set up in a suitable density to create a wind farm to take advantage of the local topography and there are enough generators to produce a reasonable amount of electricity.
Biomass generation is the term used to describe the process of creating electricity from organic sources. The energy stored in plant or animal sources is converted into electricity through capturing and burning the gases given off during decomposition i.e. land fill and sewage gases, or the vegetation and waste from agricultural and forestry activities is burnt in a boiler to create electricity.
Hydro-electric generators use the force of falling water and fast flowing streams to produce electricity. Hydro is considered to be a clean and green form of electricity production as there are no greenhouse gas emissions during the generation process. However like many of the biomass generation processes there are very strict rules around the GreenPower™ accreditation about whether they contribute to new investments in renewable energy.