What are renewable energies

 

Renewable energies are obtained from natural and inexhaustible resources which can continually self-regenerate. These sources bring enormous benefits both to environmental and human health protection and are used for the production of electricity as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Renewable energies include:

  • Solar;
  • Wind;
  • Geothermal;
  • Hydroelectric;
  • Biomass.

What is solar energy?

Solar energy, one of the most widespread and efficient renewable sources in our country, allows the production of electricity from sunlight; photovoltaic or solar systems are used to convert solar energy into electricity. The first - photovoltaic systems - use solar radiation to supply electricity, and therefore powers household appliances or home lighting systems. Solar systems, on the other hand, are connected to a tank that heats water and can thus replace boilers or water heaters. This system can also be installed on the roofs of detached houses or condominiums, offering a sizable saving on the electricity bill.

How does wind energy work?

Wind energy is generated from the wind. Using wind turbines, the wind's force is exploited to produce mechanical energy, from which electricity is then generated. The operation of wind turbines is very similar to that of windmills used for grinding wheat. Wind turbines are installed in large areas, often on the plains, where the wind is constant and strong.

How does geothermal energy work?

Geothermal energy uses the natural heat of the Earth, generated by elements such as potassium, thorium and uranium, present in the deepest layers of the Earth's crust. Geothermal power plants have been created to exploit geothermal heat. The vapour flow moves the waterwheel, the mechanical energy of which is transformed into electricity by means of an oscillator system.

How does hydroelectric energy work?

Another renewable energy source is hydroelectric energy, which arises from water motion. Waves, tides, natural and artificial waterfalls, rivers and other natural waterways produce kinetic energy which is then transformed into electricity by means of turbines. Hydroelectric energy is produced at hydroelectric plants, which are generally built in the mountains near waterways, and where it is easier to benefit from the combined effect of gravity and kinetic energy.

How does biomass energy work?

The last energy source is biomass which is not inexhaustible because it does not rely on natural resources, but on man-made waste. Indeed, biomasses are produced from fuels, combustibles, and other industrial and agricultural wastes, such as wood or municipal waste. Biomass energy generators produce smaller quantities of nitrogen, sulphur, carbon than those generated by fossil fuels, but higher than other renewable energy production systems.

Renewable energies in Italy

In Italy, the production of energy from renewable sources is consistently spreading. Italy is the only one of the main countries of the European Union that has already achieved in 2017 (18.3%) the target set for 2020 by the European Directive 2009/28/EC, which provides for a share of total gross final consumption from renewable sources equal to at least 17%. (Source: GSE - Renewable sources in Italy and Europe towards the 2020 and 2030 targets - July 2019).

Solar energy, and specifically photovoltaics, together with wind energy will guide the growth of renewable sources in Italy in the coming years, as demonstrated by the Integrated National Plan for Climate and Energy proposed by the MiSE (Ministry of Economic Development) to the European Union.

Enel Green Power is Enel Group's company devoted to the development, construction and management of energy generation activities from renewable sources all over the world, with operations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. As a world leader in the clean energy sector, with a managed capacity of around 46 GW and a generation mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric energy, Enel Green Power is at the forefront of the integration of innovative technologies in renewable plants, facilitating a new decarbonised and sustainable development model.