Ultra Long-Term Perspectives World Energy
Energy is a very important part of our lives and the world that we live in today. It has always been important since the time that the humans used to do all their work by themselves to the times when they started using animals and even today when we make use of the energy sources around us to produce energy such as electricity.
Today our main source of energy are the fossils fuels that won’t last forever as, they take millions of years to form and very little time to get used as a source of energy. One of the very important concerns of today’s time is the speed with which we are consuming these fossil fuels and how it will be very difficult for us to keep up with the increased demand which is expected to double by 2050 as the population is expected to reach 9.5 billion. It is estimated that approximately half more of the energy that we are consuming today will be needed by us in 2050 (Jess, 2010).
Due to all these raised concerns regarding the future supply and demand of energy a lot of research is now being done on the ways to ensure a sustainable future. Today researches are being done on sustainable energy, electric cars, nuclear power generation and smart glids etc. Efforts are being made to make the government come up with policies that would ensure the implementation of energy manufacturing ways which are healthier for our atmosphere and environment (Jess, 2010).
Implementing the gas revolution can prove to be very difficult as, gas and oil prices are very strong factors of our global economies and have a lot of values and meaning for politicians and their careers. Therefore, implementing the gas or oil revolution can prove to be somewhat of a problem (Jess, 2010).
If the predictions regarding the increase in demand of energy by 2010 any indicators it can clearly be seen that there exists a very strong need for us to come up with renewable energy sources in order to prepare for survival in the coming times. In this paper we have discussed many different ways through which renewable energy sources can be made use of (Jess, 2010).
1.1 Comparison and Contrast
Let’s try and have a look at the analogy that this article is based on.
Let us start by going back some thousands of years when we humans were still evolving specie and we begin to think about what we eat and how to find our food. In the search of this food we started to hunt and gather food however, the step that proved to be a significant turning point in our species’ evolution is when we actually learned the art of agriculture. This was a very important step as it led to us becoming specie that could produce and manufacture its own food rather than hunt it as we initially used to do. Agriculture allowed the humans to get settled in a single place where there was fertile land that they could grow their food on.
Let’s apply this same phenomenon mentioned above to energy. We have been more or less making use of the energy from the natural resources that we find in our environment such as from fossil fuels etc. This is being done by us for the past 250 years. Therefore, if it is said that not much is being done by us to manufacture the energy it will be correct as, for so many years we have only been making use of the natural resources to produce energy rather than trying to manufacture it. Manufacturing energy isn’t a completely new idea as it is being done by us to a little extent for many years. We manufacture or convert one form of energy into another to make the electricity which we make use of everyday. This energy can be converted in a number of ways such as by spinning the wheel, taking a magnet and spinning is inside a coil wire so that it could free up a few electrons in order for us to have a generator. When it comes to spinning the wheel in order to generate electricity, the process is almost the same. Coal is burned to boil the water which is transformed into steam which in turn spins the wheel which ultimately produces electricity or we can swap the coal with nuclear fission power, oil, hydro power or even natural gas and they will all be able to spin the wheel (Weijermars, 2012).
Let’s try to figure out the problem with the approach that we are using today in order to produce energy. The main issue is that it is not the 19th century anymore when we had an abundance of these fossil fuels that were cheap at that time and oil wasn’t at its peak along with the fact that per capita consumption of energy was considerably lower as compared to how it is today (Weijermars, 2012).
The fact that fossils fuels played a very important role in modernizing the economy of the world especially in the last century can’t be denied. But the fact still remains that burning such huge quantities of fossils that were formed over a period of million years is troublesome. Another fact is that by making use of these fossils we are taking the fossils and the carbon dioxide that comes with them from inside the earth and into the atmosphere and environment around us (Weijermars, 2012).
Change in the balance of the atmosphere due to the GHG can be seen in the last few decades and if something isn’t done about all this and we continue on burning the fossil fuels, the damage that it will do to the atmosphere and environment will be irreversible (Weijermars, 2012).
As we discussed earlier how humans evolved from gathering and hunting food to manufacturing their own, in the same way we need to come up with conversion technologies which will allow us to make use of the renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, tidal, geothermal and biomass in order to manufacture energy. In this paper we will be focusing on the energy mix that we need in order to manufacture sufficient amount of energy that will help us in getting rid of our dependence on the fossil fuels to generate energy or will at least reduce this dependence (Weijermars, 2012).
The question that arises here is that is it possible for the renewable energy sources to produce sufficient amount of energy to full fill all our needs in today’s world? The answer to this question is yes, the renewable energy sources can fulfill our needs to a 100% (Weijermars, 2012).
2. Sources of Sustainable Renewable Energy
There are many renewable energy sources that have been provided to us by nature. Amongst all these sources Sun is the most powerful source, it also acts as a driving force for many other renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Sun is involved in the formation of tidal, wind, biomass, geothermal, solar radiation and even the fossil fuels even if this involvement is very small the formation of all these things is responsible to a certain extent to the Sun (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
According European Renewable Energy Council EREC (2010) there are various technologies available on our planet that can be used as renewable energy sources as transportation, electricity, cooling and heating. However, it will be unfair on our part if our focus remains only on one of these renewable energy sources as it has been in the past in case of fossil fuels in which coal and oil have been the most significant sources of energy that on whole economy depends upon. No wonder that the oil prices have such huge impact on our economies since in every part of our life oil and coal plays such an important role (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
In today’s world the question that we really need to find an answer to is not to find a renewable energy source that would replace oil but to come up with an energy source mix which would help us in making use of the energy sources mentioned in the table in such a manner that they would not only help us in improving our economy and global development but will also prove to be good for the environment rather than damaging it (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
2.1 The Capability and Adaptability of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Resources
There is a wide category of energy resources that have been provided to us by Mother Nature such as solar thermal and geo- energy, bio-energy, ocean energy, wind, hydro power, photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity. All of these energy sources are in some way connected to 2 of the major power sources that are earth and sun. Majority of the renewable sources of energy present on earth are directly or indirectly derived from earth while others are derived from the heat flux of earth. The amount of energy coming from the sun to earth can be estimated from the fact that it has been estimated that the total amount of heat that comes from sun to the earth every day is sufficient to fulfill the power demands of the whole globe for a period of eight years. Yes, it is true that in the past we didn’t have the resources and technology to make use of this energy for our benefit but today we have carried out enough technological advancements to make use of all this energy that is going to waste every single day (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
2.2 Technological Maturity’s Stages
A lot of development has been carried out in the field of renewable energy sources in the last 2 decades. The main reason for this development is the increase in demand of the renewable energy. The phases of maturity that are essential for renewable energy technologies are: research and development; demonstration and deployment; diffusion; and commercially mature. The availability of renewable energy technologies for sake of commercial use is quite clear (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
We need to come up with a combination of renewable energy source mix that would allow us to not only reduce the emissions but also move away from depending so much on the fossil fuels. There is not only a need for mission and vision in order to carry out this approach but it also needs some help from the regional and federal authorities as well. A very important role is played by the energy policy makers when it comes to advancing the technologies in order to generate incentives for the enthusiasts, investors and consumers (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
3. Implementation of Renewable Energy and the reasons for its need?
The need for shifting to renewable energy sources isn’t just for the fact that it seems like a good option but it is the only option with regards to us having a sustainable future. The demand for energy is increasing with each passing day and so is the consumption which is contribution to the depletion of fossil fuels which is a main reason behind the increase in prices of these energy sources. There is a large segment of people who even today don’t have the energy sources for the fact that they can’t afford it and with the increasing prices of oil and coal this affordability only seems more impossible for the poor. Therefore, in order to deal with this problem of future availability of basic energy resources to all and for the betterment of our environment it is important that we try to find alternative renewable energy sources to cater to the increasing population that has been estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050 (WWF, 2011)
4. The Green Energy Revolution
When we talk about green technologies it can clearly be seen through the reaches and studies that there is no lack of them. We are surrounded by the renewable energy sources such as Bio-energy, wind, geo-thermal, hydro power and solar which are sufficient for us to fulfill our energy requirements. All we need to do it come up with a resolution to at least try and shift from the fossil fuels to other renewable energy sources which are friendlier to our environment. Studies have shown that by following the efficiency in power use, industrial fuel usage, transportation, carbon capture, storage and investing we can significantly reduce the CO2 emissions. (UNEP, 2011)
It has also been observed through the studies that businesses will benefit in the long-run from the green revolution as they are making use of the fossil fuels to fulfill 80% of their requirements for energy (Khatib, 2012).
4.1 Path leading to Transformation
There are a number of factors that can affect the transformation and growth of renewable energy’s future. Some of these important factors are population growth, resource availability, economic growth, energy policy instruments and energy prices. Some of the important principles that can help in supporting this path to the transformation are (Khatib, 2012):
Phasing out the fossil fuels at least by the end of this century if not sooner.
Decoupling the growth that takes place due to the usage of fossil fuels.
Implementing solutions that are renewable and clean and decentralizing the energy systems.
Phasing out the unsustainable and dirty energy (Khatib, 2012).
4.2 The Challenges Ahead
One of the most important conditions for a future that is powered by the renewables is energy conservation. The most important issue being discussed in this article is the fact that if we keep on consuming the energy at the rate that we are doing today we will not be able to cater to the demands of 9 billion people in the coming decades. Solutions are already present on the issue of reducing the use of fossil fuels for the purpose of energy production. All we need to do is come up with some plan to implement these solutions. For example, recycling the used materials can help us by greatly reducing pollution, the biomass stoves for the domestic level cooking can be made a lot more effective merely by lining the utensils with ceramic lining instead of metal and this would help us in saving a lot of energy. Similarly, there are a lot of small steps that we can take in order to protect our environment and these small steps have huge impacts in the long run (Khatib, 2012).
4.2.1 Energy Efficiency – Achieving more with less
It is a lot cheaper and efficient to consume the energy in an economical manner rather than to produce new energy, along with this efficient consumption of energy has other advantages as well such as it improves the quality of life as well. For example, by making use of appliances that use less electricity such as a washer you will not only be able to save electricity but probably water as well as, the washer will get the job done quickly (Teske, 2010).
â€¢ Designing Energy Productivity
In the same manner there are a lot of things that can be done by us in order to not only improve the quality of our lives but to also consume the energy in an efficient manner such as by properly insulating our homes we can reduce the cooling as well as heating demand by approximately 50% (Teske, 2010).
Teske (2010) discovered through his research that some of the elements of building design can reduce the use of energy to a great extent (Teske, 2010).
â€¢ Power Sector
About 32% of the global fossil fuel is being used in the production of electricity and this electricity production is responsible for approximately 41% of the energy-related CO2 emissions taking place today. Even though the use of renewable energy is increasing every year but the share of renewable energy is increasing rather slowly as, there are still a lot of countries that are still making use of the fossil fuels for the production of energy (Khatib, 2011; Pyke, 2012).
â€¢ Transportation Sector
One of the most significant elements when it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gases level is transportation. Around 27% of the present energy and half of the oil consumption are due to the transport sector which includes the road, rail and sea. It is being estimated that by 2050 this demand will increase up to 120% in the transport sector (Khatib, 2012)
4.2.2 Energy Policy
In order for the green revolution to take affect the government has to play its part. The government needs to put in place strict standards for the renewable energy share and emission reduction as well. With these policies the cost of carbon will increase which will encourage the people to invest more in the green energy. Following are few of the policy recommendations that can help in increasing the renewables’ introduction into the society (Khatib, 2012):
â€¢ Policy for Climate Control
The main idea behind the climate policy should be to not only provide support to the renewable energy but to also penalize the parties or energies sources that play their part in contributing to the global pollution (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010).
â€¢ Energy Policy as well as Market Regulation
In order for the renewable energy technologies to get implemented on a wider scale, it is important to implement significant reforms in the electricity sector. There are a number of issues that need to be dealt with in order to implement these technologies. Some of these issues are complex licensing issues, long waiting time for approvals, bureaucratic issue and ownership of grid by companies that are integrated vertically (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010)
â€¢ Incentives and Targets for Renewable energy supplies
Presently, one of the strongest problems that the renewable energy generators have to face is to compete with the fossil fuel as well as old nuclear power stations that are making electricity at marginal costs for the reasons that the interest and depreciation has been paid by the tax payers on the original investments. In order to deal with the issue of distortion of prices there is a need for the government authorities to start leveling the playing field (European Renewable Energy Council EREC, 2010)
Figuring out a way to deal with the decreasing number of fossil fuels and our increasing demand for future is probably one of the most important problems being faced by our race today. It is being estimated that by 2050 the population will increase to 9.5 billion in the world and the energy demand will increase to another half of what it is now. Therefore, it is significant for us to come up with a plan to prepare ourselves for the increase in demand that we will be facing in a few decades.
According to a lot of researchers today we need to start making use of the renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro power, solar energy etc. These renewable sources are not only a good source of sustainable energy but they will also help us in protecting our environment. We need to reduce the use of energy manufacturing processes that not only make use of the fossil fuels but are also harmful for our environment such as nuclear power generation.
It is being estimated that by 2050 the need for transportation will increase by 120%. In order to deal with this increase in transportation demand efforts are now being made to explore new option for fueling the transport. However, hydrogen cars still seems like an idea that would take more than a couple of decades to come out due to the technological hurdles associated with them but electric cars are expected to be a success soon like the battery operated cars.
If the efforts regarding the use of renewable energy sources pays off then the climate change problem can be reduced if not eliminated completely. The gas and oil revolution will have a great impact on the international geopolitical scenario due to the fact that oil and gas are a very important part of our global scenario and the tax payers and business tycoons who have invested in oil and gas business won’t let it get sidelined so easily even if it is harmful for the environment.
In the light of all the researches and awareness being created regarding the use of fossil fuels and its side effects it seems like an energy revolution is possible before 2050. People today are becoming more and more aware about the world that they live in and so there is a great chance that they will start the energy revolution which will ultimately dismiss the ‘peak oil’ hypothesis.
European Renewable Energy Council EREC. (2010). Re-thinking 2050 – A 100% renewable energy vision of EU. Retrieved from http://www.erec.org/media/publications/re-thinking-2050.html
Jess, A. (2010). What might be the energy demand and energy mix to reconcile the world’s pursuit of welfare and happiness with the necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere? Energy Policy, 38(8), 4663 — 4678. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421510003009
Khatib, H. (2011). IEA World Energy Outlook 2010 — A comment. Energy Policy, 39(5), 2507 — 2511. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421511000930
Khatib, H. (2012). IEA World Energy Outlook 2011 — A comment. Energy Policy, 48, 737 — 743. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512005149
Pyke, B. (2012). Global Energy Trends?; 2030 to 2050, (March), 1 — 8. Retrieved from http://www.energyinst.org/_uploads/documents/session-6-future-energy-trends-note-2012.pdf
Teske, S. (2010). [R ]evolution European Renewable. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/climate/2010/fullreport.pdf
UNEP. (2011). Renewable Energy Investing in energy and resource efficiency. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/GER_6_RenewableEnergy.pdf
Weijermars, R., Taylor, P., Bahn, O., Das, S.R., & Wei, Y.-M. (2012). Review of models and actors in energy mix optimization — can leader visions and decisions align with optimum model strategies for our future energy systems? Energy Strategy Reviews, 1(1), 5 — 18. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211467X11000022
WWF. (2011). The Energy Report 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. Retrieved from http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/2011_02_02_the_energy_report_full.pdf
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