Transition to clean sustainable energy
Everything is energy, from living things including our bodies to wind, sunlight, and fossil fuels. Therefore, everything is also because of energy. Securing enough energy is the most important for our survival and beyond. While most developed countries are busy finding dense energy sources for economic growth, we are not addressing many important questions.
- Are you living a happy life?
- What is your very honest feeling about the quality of basic needs such as food, air, and community?
- Is it easy to maintain your health?
- Does your environment naturally make you happy?
The reason for transitioning to clean energy and a sustainable lifestyle is to improve the quality of our life. If the answer to these questions is no, we may be working hard on things that are not relevant to solve these issues.
What is clean energy?
Clean energy refers to energy sources that have minimum impact on the environment. It includes a wide range of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources used in an environmentally responsible way. Any energy sources have some impact on the environment, but the goal is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthier and cleaner environment for future generations.
Are clean energy and renewable energy the same?
While clean energy and renewable energy are closely related, they are not exactly the same thing. Renewable energy refers specifically to sources that can naturally replenish themselves, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy. These sources rely on ongoing natural processes, making them virtually limitless. Clean energy, on the other hand, encompasses both renewable and non-renewable energy sources used in an environmentally responsible manner. This means that certain non-renewable sources, like natural gas, can still be considered clean if the carbon is captured before going into the atmosphere.
Examples of clean energy sources
- Solar Energy: Solar has become a popular and cheaper energy source in recent years. The land size required to install solar system has become smaller with Solar Thermal Power Systems. However, there are still some challenges. Solar panels contain some toxic chemicals, and we need to urgently develop recycling systems for decommissioned panels.
- Wind Energy: Wind is also a popular renewable energy and provides a considerable amount of electricity in many places around the world. The environmental concern is the death of many birds and bats caused by wind turbines. Also, the a huge amount of fiberglass materials to dispose of when old turbines retire.
- Hydroelectric Power: Generating electricity from the power of flowing or falling water. Building dams can have negative impacts on the environment and new systems are built with run-of-river systems.
- Geothermal Energy: Tapping into the Earth’s natural heat to produce electricity. Geothermal power plants don’t need fuel to generate electricity, but they may release small amounts of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. This is also limited to geographical locations that are near the boundaries of the Earth’s tectonic plates.
- Biomass Energy: Converting organic materials, such as wood, agricultural waste, and dedicated energy crops, into usable energy through processes like combustion or anaerobic digestion. The biggest concern is the pollution from burning wood and other materials.
- Tidal and Wave Energy: Capturing the energy from ocean tides and waves to generate electricity. It is a highly predictable energy source but has an impact on marine life and maintenance is an issue.
- Nuclear Energy: Nuclear power can provide a significant amount of clean energy. Even though the historical records show that nuclear is the safest energy source, political discussion, and safe waste disposal are still challenging.
- Natural Gas with Carbon Capture and Storage: Carbon Capture System is often promoted as the solution to reduce carbon emissions, but it has not proved the result yet. For the same energy cost, wind turbines and solar panels reduce much more carbon emissions while also eliminating fossil air pollution and mining. Natural gas with CCS may be categorized as clean energy, but questions remain.
Can clean energy replace fossil fuels?
Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy is a complex process with various challenges to overcome. While completely replacing fossil fuels with clean energy is feasible, there are important considerations to address:
- Intermittency: Some renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, rely on specific weather conditions or daylight hours. Advances in energy storage technologies, like batteries or pumped hydro storage, are crucial for overcoming this challenge and ensuring a consistent supply of clean energy.
- Infrastructure: The transition to clean energy requires developing and upgrading infrastructure to support the generation, distribution, and utilization of sustainable energy sources. This includes expanding renewable energy capacity, improving power grids, and establishing charging stations for electric vehicles.
- Meeting Energy Demands: Clean energy sources need to be able to meet the increasing energy demands of our society. While renewable sources have great potential, their scalability and ability to replace fossil fuels on a large scale need careful planning and consideration.
- Technological Advancements: Continued research and development are vital for advancing clean energy technologies, improving their efficiency, reducing costs, and addressing any environmental concerns associated with certain sources.
- Public Acceptance and Policy Support: Encouraging public acceptance and support for clean energy is crucial. Governments and policymakers play a significant role in providing incentives, setting ambitious renewable energy targets, and implementing effective policies that promote the adoption of clean energy.
Renewable energy and sustainability
Renewable energy and sustainable energy are not the same because some renewable energy sources take time to naturally renew themselves. For example, Biofuel is made from renewable sources such as palm oil and corn. However, growing plants and refining processes demand other environmental resources and emit greenhouse gases. Unrealistic demand for biofuel can cause water and food shortages, deforestation, and other environmental issues.
Sustainable energy needs to fulfill our current energy needs without compromising future generations. Switching to clean energy is not as simple as changing from one source to another.
The most important energy
Why does clean and sustainable energy matter?
We want a safe and beautiful place to have a happy life. If this is the ultimate goal, we need to start our discussions about the energy for our souls and body. The basic energy sources such as food and community. How do we produce and distribute nutritious food? How do we keep air and water clean? How do we live with nature? These are much more important than electricity to turn on a TV.
The cost to develop systems, job creation, and technological challenges are all still relevant. But let’s not forget the basics while debating on energy sources.
Renewable Energy vs Sustainable Energy - https://energy.sais.jhu.edu/articles/renewable-energy-vs-sustainable-energy/
What are the safest and cleanest sources of energy? - https://ourworldindata.org/safest-sources-of-energy
Bioenergy - https://www.fern.org/issues/bioenergy/
Evaluation of Coal and Natural Gas with Carbon Capture as Proposed Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security - https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NatGasVsWWS&coal.pdf