There is a lot that goes into creating renewable energy including the bare materials to create the technology that allows us to utilize renewable energy. Whether it is solar panels, water turbines, and even windmills need the right materials to be effective. Some raw materials contain the basis as to how energy can be organically created.
This material is essential for various renewable energy sectors. With photovoltaic solar cells, or rather cells that convert sunlight into direct energy, copper is used for the cabling, earthing, inverters, and other things to move the energy along. Specifically, with wind energy, copper is utilized in the form of “coil windings” in a generator’s stator and rotor portions.
Silicon is the most common material used in relation to solar cells. It has special chemical properties when it is in its crystalline form. One atom of silicon does not have a full outer shell of electrons so it is always looking for nearby atoms – which forms the crystalline structure. When energy is added to pure silicon, in the form of heat, it can cause a few electrons to break free of their bongs and leave their atoms.
A simple compound to overlook when thinking of renewable energy yet it is quite valuable, even with solar power. Power towers and parabolic troughs need water to produce electricity both efficiently and also cost-effectively. For example, a large-scale solar panel facility such as the Nevada Solar One plant uses 850 gallons of water per megawatt hour to keep their panels up to their most efficient standard.
This element is becoming a crucial role in the overall transition to renewable sources of power. Cobalt is used in rechargeable battery electrodes. Cobalt is also found in the magnets used in massive wind turbines.
The popular lithium-ion batteries are also in electric and hybrid vehicles. Lithium is also key for storing renewable energy. The benefits of utilizing lithium are that it is lightweight, high-energy density, and has a great ability to recharge.
These simple elements and compounds are what allow the growth and expansion of renewable energy across the globe. It takes the simplicity of these materials to allow the sustainable energy tools to thrive.