DEFINING RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE- MOST ASKED QUESTIONS


Introduction to Sustainable Renewable Energy


Perhaps to better understand renewables from a business perspective and why it is important to combating climate change and emissions of green house gases, we need to start by defining what Sustainable renewable energy is. Sustainable energy is power which is able to be produced and used so that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. This includes environmental aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions, social aspects such as access to energy, and economic aspects which can be replenished within a human lifetime and so cause no long-term damage to the environment. Sustainable Renewable energy includes all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, biomass, geothermal, wind, wave, tidal and solar energies


“Sustainable energy is power which is able to be produced and used so that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.”
An example of a renewable energy project in Luangwa, Lusaka, Zambia

MOST ASKED QUESTIONS ON RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR BUSINESSES


Why Renewable Energy is important for Economic Benefit

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Defining renewable energy as an infinite source of energy replenishable, means it can act as a potential for businesses to develop and improve profits for their businesses while protecting the environment without compromising existing setup infrastructure relying from finite resources as it is the case in Zambia where in some regions such as Southern Province where Hydro Electricity is no longer a renewable source of energy due to intermittent rainfall patterns over a couple of decades now.

Certain Renewable energy sources have been in use for some time now especially in Zambia which includes, wind and solar. However, in order to bring renewable energy sources into wider scopes and aspects of our lives (one of which is small businesses and different companies), there is a requirement for more technological development and intellectual as well as substantial financial investment. This is how modern renewable energy types have been created that will enable you to have them set up at your business site and enjoy the results.

How Does Renewable Energy Work?

There are many types of renewable energy that have come to successfully replace the traditional sources of energy. Each of these renewable energy types uses different natural sources for generating power and covering all your energy and water usage needs. Find the more detailed descriptions of the way they function below:


Solar Energy: Solar power is pretty much one of the most common types of renewable energy. Having a solar panel installed at your company, you will be able to cover your air and water heating needs. Another solar technology are the solar photovoltaic systems that use solar cells for turning sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are installed on unshaded, pitched roofs and don’t require much maintenance.

Geothermal Energy: Geothermal energy is taken from the heat that’s stored under the

earth’s surface. It can also be captured from the absorbed heat present in the

atmosphere and oceans. In short, the earth’s heat is turned into electricity by means of geothermal energy.



Wind Energy: The kinetic energy of the wind is processed into mechanical energy and electricity. The technologies used for getting wind energy are wind turbines which are small single building applications to large onshore or offshore wind farms. Wind energy could be a good idea for those businesses that possess a large unused space for installing the wind turbines.



Hydropower: Water also comes with kinetic energy that can be turned into electricity. In this case, the water flow is sent to turbine blades that spin making the electrical generator attached to the turbine spin as well thus generating electricity. However, in Zambia like many other countries previously known to use hydro as a source of renewable energy source has become a threat due to climate change impacts where its no longer reliable to use hydro as an infinite source of energy.



Biomass Energy: This type of renewable energy is generated from organic materials such as wood, straw and other crops. The energy is generated by burning these materials. Biomass is considered renewable because its inherent energy is extracted from the sun, besides it can be replenished within short time periods. When trees are burned, they emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as when they die naturally. Thus, using biomass energy, you will not harm the environment in any unnatural or additional way.



Why is Renewable Energy Important?

Now that you know how different renewable energy sources work and what natural riches they make use of, it’s high time to look at their benefits and advantages. The latter are obviously the main factors that make renewable energy important:

  • Cleaner and Greener Environment: Renewable energy usage will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come with the traditional energy sources. The environmental impact of renewable energy sources is close to none. Why not invest in living on a better planet?

  • Infinite Energy Source: With renewable energy you can be sure that you are providing the coming generations not only with a better environment but also with an energy that will hardly ever run out. Besides, as noted above, it keeps getting cheaper which means that your grandchildren will have a chance of paying close to nothing for the electricity they use.

  • Economy: Renewable energy sources function on certain facilities (solar panels, wind turbines, etc.) that require well-thought workmanship. This means that the higher the demand for renewable energy sources, the more new jobs will be created for people who create these facilities and install them. Besides, the economy also grows as the US sells renewable energy systems overseas as well.

  • Fight against Global Warming: As more and more people start using renewable energy, the biggest threat of our era - global warming might start its retreat. With the help of clean energy you will be able to contribute to climate change in a positive way. .

What are the Benefits of Using Renewable Energy for Small Businesses?

The next important question that arises in your mind is how your small business will benefit from investing in a renewable energy source and going green. We already mentioned that your business will become much more energy efficient and you’ll save lots of money. Let’s have a close-up look at this and other benefits of renewable energy for your small business:

  • Lower Energy Bills: This is probably the main reason why your business should go green. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for your monthly electricity bills, you can pay much less if you convert to a renewable energy source.

  • Tax Credits: Your company can get tax incentives from the local government as a reward for your green initiative. Besides, you might also be able to cover at least 30% of your renewable energy system installation with the help of these incentives.

  • Improved Reputation and More Customers: People will highly appreciate your step toward reducing your carbon footprint and going green. It will make them feel that you care about them and the environment which will highly increase the possibility of many customers choosing your services over others. This will earn you a good reputation and possibly increase your sales. Besides, conversion to a renewable energy source will have your employees stay with you longer and be loyal to the goals of your company.

  • Healthier Environment for You and Your Employees: And last but not least, having a renewable energy source at your company will make it a cleaner place for long and loaded working days. Reducing your carbon footprint, you will have a positive effect not only over the whole environment but also on a smaller scale, on the office you are working at. Don’t harm the health of your employees by sticking to the traditional energy sources which are going to run out sooner or later.


Do I Have to Purchase Solar Panels or Wind Turbines?

The main dilemma that many small business owners stumble upon is the choice between solar panels and wind turbines. Deciding which one to choose can depend on a number of different factors such as the location of your company, your budget, energy needs, number of employees, etc.

To help you make the right choice here is a quick comparison of solar panels and wind turbines”

  • Solar Panels: To start with, solar panels require very little maintenance. All that is required from you is checking the connections, tightening the bolts, cleaning the panels on an annual basis. There are no moving parts which makes things much easier for you. Besides, if you are late with your annual maintenance, it’s highly unlikely that you will have many problems. What refers to the installation of solar panels, they can be placed pretty much anywhere as long as the sunlight falls over them. You can install them on the roof, on the ground, on the side or any other comfortable place of your building. Solar panels usually come with a 25-year warranty, as for the design life of your panel, it can serve you for 30-40 years. Solar panels don’t make any noise during operation. Sun power is environmentally safe and doesn’t have any damaging effects on wildlife. A drawback for solar power is that the size of the panels you’ll need to generate the same amount of energy in different geographical places can be different.

  • Wind Turbines: Wind turbines are very space-efficient, so to say. A single wind turbine (the most powerful one) can generate electricity for 600 US-based households. Imagine how little you would need to have enough wind energy at your company. The maintenance of wind turbines can depend on the manufacturer. Direct drive turbines require little maintenance due to the small number of moving parts. Other turbines that come with a gearbox require annual maintenance. Wind turbines should be installed 9.144 meters above anything within 152.4 meters. This is not good for buildings located in big city centers and near many trees. The warranty period ranges from 5 to 10 years while the design will last from 20 to 40 years depending on the manufacturer. Wind turbines make a little noise at higher wind speeds. In Zambia specific tests have been conducted to assess possibility of wind technology deployment in certain areas. One of the main advantages of wind turbines is that they are said to use less energy as compared to solar panels. As for the drawbacks of wind turbines, the one worth mentioning is the threat they have against wildlife, e.g., birds. However, this problem is also solvable by making the turbines more innovative and choosing their locations more carefully.

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