Please Note: This website is out of date. The Steward Community Woodland sustainable living project ended in 2018 for legal and planning permission reasons. The contents have been left here as a historical archive.

Renewable Energy

What is renewable energy?

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but simply converted from one form to another. When energy is used to perform a task, it is converted into heat, sound, movement etc. However, in relatation to 'renewable energy', the term energy refers to the source of energy used to perform the tasks associated with modern life. Eg. fuels for transportation, heating, cooking, and the production of electricity.

Overwhelmingly, fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, oil and natural gas) have been the fuels of choice for performing these tasks over the last centuray. Fossil fuels are finite resources, i.e., there's a limited amount available and once used up, there will be no more (unless you're willing to wait millions of years for the fossilisation process to create some more).

Fossil fuels require a combustion process to convert the energy into a form capable of performing a task. That combustion releases emissionsthat cause the most common types of air pollution today, as well as contibuting to global warming and climate change.

Renewable sources of energy commonly fall under five categories: Biomass (organic matter), Water (hydro), Wind, Solar, and Geothermal (heat from under the earth). Heat and changing gravitational influenceas from the sun creates the conditions that generate wind and circulate water around the planet and its atmosphere. The sun also provides the light necessary for biomass (trees and other plants) to grow. These sources can be considered infinitely available - as long as the earth continues to revolve around the sun and the sun continues to radiate energy, there will be energy available.

Long before the beginning of the industrial revolution, mankind used the natural resources at hand to serve as energy sources for every day tasks. Historical records of watermill and windmill use dates back to ancient China, Greece and Rome. Such machines where used to grind grain, create cloth and produce metal products.

Today's versions of those machines operate on similar principles and enable us to make us of the energy around us. Responsible use of renewable sources of energy can be environmentally benign and use instead of fossil fuels, they offer a clean a sustainable future.

At Steward Community Woodland, we are commited to minimising our use of fossil fuels and instead using renewable energy sources. At present we are utilising biomass, hydro and solar energy. More significantly, we have reduced the amount of energy that is used by making changes to our lifestyles.

Last updated: 2009-04-22

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