A renewable resource is a supply of a substance that can be replenished. In relation to renewable energy, the term refers to fuels or power sources that are either in endless supply or that can be built up again with a reasonably low effort. The opposite term, non-renewable resources, usually refers to fossil fuels that take exponentially longer to replenish naturally than it takes humans to use them up.
What kinds of resources are renewable?
The ultimate renewable resources, produced in abundance by the natural ecosystems of our planet, include geothermal, wind, water and solar energy. Other resources are only truly renewable under certain circumstances. For example, a functioning water cycle produces an undiminishing supply of clean water on a worldwide scale, but human intervention and climate extremes make it a finite resource on a local level and could even turn it into a non-renewable resource globally.
How must renewable resources be managed?
Even though renewable energy, in the form of geothermal, solar, wind and hydropower, is free and in unlimited supply, these eco-friendly alternatives must be managed and utilized efficiently. Wind and sunlight, in particular, are fluctuating energy sources that aren’t always predictable and readily available. The energy technologies that harness such renewables are constantly being optimized, as are the grids and storage options needed to ensure security of supply.
Security of supply with renewable energy
Access to reliable energy is essential to a stable society, a secure life and a flourishing economy. One of the pitfalls of sustainable electricity generation from renewable sources is the inconsistency of electricity volume produced. Photovoltaic power depends on the rays of the sun, so it is only produced during the day, wind turbines are only active when it’s windy, which is also most often during the day. Hydropower and geothermal power are somewhat steadier, but all renewables are less easy to control than non-renewable energy forms. MAN Energy Solutions is continually working on solutions that keep electricity available at all times.
Hybrid powerplants for a transition to renewables
As economies transition from non-renewable to renewable power sources, hybrid energy systems are needed to ensure a smooth switch in the short term. In the long term, these systems can slowly increase the sustainable share of the electricity mix, without sacrificing a cost-effective security of supply. Hybrid solutions by MAN Energy Solutions are tailored to the needs of the client and can include power plants powered by anything from biogas to LNG, paired with emission-free hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy, combined with efficient storage solutions to minimize energy loss and balance out fluctuations.
Carbon-neutral energy storage
Power-to-X might just be the energy storage unicorn that energy transition needs. The carbon-neutral technology converts renewable energy, into methane gas (Power-to-Gas) or liquid methanol (Power-to-Liquid). The resulting carbon-neutral synthetic gas can easily be transported through existing pipelines and used in gas-powered engines. It can also be converted back into electricity if needed.
Energy storage is a global issue. In Germany, for example, we produce over 40,000 MW in offshore, solar and wind power, but each year around 5,500 MW of this potential can be lost because the grids cannot absorb it all. We have to store renewable energy for those times when it is not generated.