RenewableEnergy and Climate Change
RenewableEnergy and Climate Change
Theimportance of energy cannot be gainsaid as far as the wellbeing ofany country’s economy is concerned. Indeed, it has been a wellknown fact that the price of energy in any society determines theprices of all other products and, consequently, the wellbeing of thecountries’ economies. In the contemporary human society, crude oilhas been one of the most explored commodities, with economies,particularly in Asia experiencing astronomical growth as a result oftheir enormous oil wells. On the same note, numerous wars have beenfought as a result of this precious commodity, as countries andvaried entities seek to have more control over its exploration,production and sale. Unfortunately, it is also well acknowledged thatoil is a limited resource in which case the more it is produced, thelesser the time it can be expected to be source of energy in thefuture. This has necessitated the determination of other sources ofenergy that could complement and possibly substitute crude oil in thefuture. It has been preferable that these sources of energy berenewable.
IncreasingCrude Oil Consumption by China and India
Asmuch as there has been an increase in the production of energy, therehas been an even more increase in the demand for every form of energyparticularly as a result of the above-average GDP growth in non-OECDcountries and the steady mature energy consumption in OECD countries.Research has shown that the growth rate for oil consumption innon-OECD countries reached 5.5% in 2010, while OECD retaining asteady growth of 0.9%. of particular note is the fact that among theimmense increase in consumption of all forms of energy, oil was theleading fuel meeting about 33.6% of the energy consumption in theglobe (Tiwari&Mishra,2012,pp. 76). Research also shows that the heightened consumption of oilin the recent times is not matched by the world’s production of thesame. Varied factors have been blamed for the increased demand foroil with income and population remaining the fundamental determinantsof the demand for energy (Aguiar-Conraria & Wen, 2012, pp. 133).This has particularly been the case for non-OECD countries, whoseeconomic development has increased the appetite for energy that couldonly be satisfied through an increase in the consumption of all formsof fuel.
Alarge proportion of the growth in demand for oil has been attributedto India and China. There have been projections that the twocountries would be the third largest and largest consumers of energyin the world respectively by 2030, taking up a large proportion ofthe increase in the consumption of liquid fuels such as oil andbiofuels among other liquids. On the same note, the two countries areprojected to account for 35 percent of the global population and havethe potential to represent about 94 percent of the net increase inoil demand (Aguiar-Conraria & Wen, 2012, pp. 133). In 2010, theenergy consumption of China increased by around 11.2% making thecountry the largest consumer of global energy at 20.3%. Indeed,research has shown that over 50% of the demand growth for globalliquids emanates from the country and that the expansion plans forrefinery are bound to affect the global product balance.
By2025, China is projected to take up about 15 percent of the globalenergy use. On the same note, the country comes as the largest coalproducer in the world, taking up 28% of the coal production in theworld (Tiwari&Mishra,2012,pp. 79). A large proportion of this, however, ends up being consumedwithin the country where about 26 percent of the coal consumption inthe world goes to the country.
However,questions remain regarding the implications of the increasedconsumption and demand for oil and energy in China and India.Underlining the intense nature of these concerns is the fact that thetwo countries are known to produce some of the largest amounts ofcarbon dioxide emissions. Indeed, China is estimated to spew about 13percent of the carbon emissions in the globe from the use of fossilfuels. There are projections that the share will increase to round 18percent by 2025. On the same note, numerous other greenhouse gassesare produced in the increased use of fossil fuels including blackcarbon (the fine particulates that are released as a result ofimperfect carbonaceous materials’ combustion), and sulphur dioxidewhich could be harmful to the health of individuals (Aguiar-Conraria& Wen, 2012, pp. 133). This is besides the fact that such gasesalso increase the global warming as they form a layer beneath theozone layer, thereby preventing the heat from the earth from escapingbeyond the atmosphere.
Giventhe imminent possibility for the depletion of oil reserves coupledwith the increasing global warming, it is imperative that thegovernment institutes programs that will reduce the reliance on oiland fossil fuels. Numerous possibilities exist for renewable energysystems including wind power, solar energy, geothermal energy, andocean energy.
Solarenergy involves the harnessing of heat and light from the sun usingvaried technologies such as solar thermal energy, artificialphotosynthesis, solar photovoltaics and solar heating. This comes asa crucial source of renewable energy, with its technologies beingcategorized as either active solar or passive solar, subject to themanner in which they capture and distribute or convert solar energy.There are varied advantages to the use of solar energy incomplementing the existing forms of energy in the United Kingdom.
First,solar energy comes off as renewable, abundant and sustainable. Itwould be impossible to run out of solar energy, especiallyconsidering predictions by NASA that the sun is going to be aroundfor the next 6.5 billion years. It abundance is underlined by thefact that the UK experiences considerable periods of sunny weather,which has been a boost to solar power generation offering about 7.8percent of the United Kingdom’s electricity in daylight hours ofsolstice. With regard to sustainability, it is noteworthy that solarpower can be harnessed to meet the current day’s needs withoutcompromising the capacity for future generations to derive theirutility for the same. Indeed, in no way can present day generationsover-consume solar energy. The availability of solar energy alsocomes as advantageous considering that the energy is available acrossthe globe rather than in selected areas. For instance, Germany hasthe world’s largest solar power capacity in spite of the fact thatit is nowhere close to the equator.
Further,solar energy comes as extremely environmentally friendly consideringthat the harnessing of solar energy does not produce any pollution.As much as there may be some emissions pertaining to theinstallation, transportation and manufacturing of solar energysystems, they are quite minute in comparison to the conventionalsources of energy. The fact that the solar energy would also lowerthe reliance on non-renewable sources of energy comes as crucial stepin the fight against global warming and climate change.
Onthe same note, solar energy would allow for a reduction in the costof electricity. The cost of electricity has been increasingconsiderably in the recent times as a result of the increase in theprices of oil barrels. Oil has been the main fuel used in thegeneration of electricity. Nevertheless, the use of solar energywould mean a reduction in the demand for oil-generated electricity,thereby reducing its cost. Further, individuals would not be payingany cost for the electricity that they harness from the sun. Therehave been instances where homeowners enter into power purchase orleasing agreements and sell the excess electricity, therebygenerating some income from the energy harnessed.
However,there are some limitations to the use of solar energy. First, solarenergy is deemed to be more expensive than other sources of energyespecially with regard to the amount that would be required topurchase the solar panels and batteries. In addition, there is theproblem of intermittence considering that there are instances wherethe solar panels will not be giving out sufficient energy includingcloudy days and nights. On the same note, solar energy generation mayalso require substantial space.
Windenergy or wind power underlines the enrgy derived from wind turbinesin the production of electric power, use of sails in propellingships, windpumps to pump water, or even windmills in production ofmechanical power. The United Kingdom is touted as one of the world’sbest windpower locations considering its increasing usage of windpower. As at 2014, the wind power in the UK was made up of 5276turbines that had a total installed capacity of more than 6831megawatts and 3653 megawatts of onshore and offshore capacity. Thismade the UK the 6thlargest wind power producer in the globe. There are varied advantagesand disadvantages of the use of wind power.
First,wind power comes as extremely cheap and clean. There are nopollutants generated in the course of producing wind energy, neitherwould there be any cost incurred in instances where the geographicallocation receives a lot of wind. Further, the cost of generating windpower has been going down as a result of immense popularity of thesame. On the same note the use of wind power would lower the UK’sdependence on fossil fuels considering the immense amounts of energyproduced from the same. This would mean a reduction in the pollution.The renewable nature of wind power is based on the fact that windoccurs naturally, in which case there is no possibility foroverconsumption (Liu & Diamond, 2005, pp. 1186). Since windenergy emanates from the processes of nuclear fusion occurring on thesun, it means that it will always be possible to harness wind energyas long as the sun is shining. On the same note, researchers haveacknowledged that the production of wind power is space efficient.Indeed, the largest wind turbines have the capacity to producesufficient electricity to meet the energy demands for about 600 homesin the United Kingdom. This is besides the fact that the land betweenturbines may still be used for other activities.
However,wind power has the disadvantage of being considerably unpredictableand inconsistent, in which case it may not be suitable as a source ofbase load energy. In addition, there are immense financial costsinvolved in the installation of wind turbines. Further, there areconcerns that wind turbines may be a threat to wildlife consideringthe fact that flying creatures such as birds and bats stand littlechance of surviving if they take a hit from the rotating wind turbineblades (Boyle,2012,pp. 98). There are also concerns that what the wind power generationeliminates in terms of pollution is taken back by noise pollution asa result of the rotating blades.
Geothermalenergy refers to the thermal energy that is stored and produced inthe earth. It emanates from the original planet formation, coupledwith the radioactive mineral decay. The production of geothermalenergy is made possible by the geothermal gradient, which refers tothe difference in temperature of the planet’s core and that of thesurface (Boyle,2012,pp. 98). It is this gradient that drives the persistent thermalenergy conduction in form of heat emanating from the earth’s coreto the surface/. Underlining the potential of the geothermal power isthe fact that the UK has the potential of meeting a fifth of itspower needs, which is tantamount to nine nuclear power stations,through the exploitation of geothermal power.
Geothermalenergy has the advantage of being renewable considering that theenergy reservoirs are naturally replenished. So high is the amount ofthermal energy that is buried deep in the earth, not to mention itsreplenishment rate, that the amount is conservatively thought to behigher than all uranium and fossil fuels combined (Dahl, 2011, pp.58). In addition, geothermal energy is seen as the most green of alltypes of renewable energy. In addition, the lifetime costs pertainingto geothermal energy operations are considerably smaller compared toother types of energy.
Nevertheless,the initial energy generation costs are extremely high, not tomention the extreme distances that have to be drilled in the earth’scrust so as to gain access to the immense amounts of energy (Liu &Diamond, 2005, pp. 1183). Further, the maintenance of geothermalpower plants may require immense caution and care considering thatthe water coursing via the piping is superheated, which implies thatthe pipe, heat exchanger and turbines maintenance may be fatal forpeople.
Thereis no doubt that it is imperative that new sources of renewableenergy are developed, not only to reduce the dependence on fossilfuels but also to save the planet from the impeding catastrophes as aresult of the global warming and climate change. Needless to say,there is a wide array of options available for the government of theUnited Kingdom as far as renewable sources of energy are concerned.Nevertheless, it would be imperative that it provides incentives orsupports the establishment of more geothermal plants. This isparticularly considering the immense potential of such plants inmeeting the demand of energy in the United Kingdom, but also theconsistency and dependability of geothermal power (Boyle,2012,pp. 98). It is noteworthy that unless there is a breakage of theproduction systems, which is rare and repairable, the geothermalenergy can be constantly produced with no interruptions at allconsidering that the earth is constantly replenishing the variedsources of the energy. In addition, such plants increase the energyamount of energy produced without increasing the pollution. In thecase of wind power, there is always the possibility for increasednoise pollution with any addition of a wind turbine. Similarly, theincreased production of solar energy would necessitate the use ofanother battery to store the energy so produced and another solarpanel, all of which come with some undesirable effects on theenvironment (Liu & Diamond, 2005, pp. 1183). Geothermal energy,on the other hand, involves the production of energy at considerablylow or no pollution even with increased production. The only downsidecomes in the form of the immense initial start-up capital required toestablish such plants, as well as the high risk in case of need formaintenance. Nevertheless, the immense initial capital is offsetextremely quickly as a result of the utility and efficiency of thegeothermal energy, not to mention the fact that the dependency of theUnited Kingdom on fossil fuels would be eliminated permanently. Inaddition, the repair and maintenance of geothermal plants does nothave to be fatal considering the fact that there is improvedtechnology that is allowing for remote repair of mechanical problemsof machinery as far away as the space, which means that thepossibility for casualty is considerably reduced.
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