Each person’s habits affect our achievement of climate neutrality. In the energy sector, a green turnaround means a gradual transition to green electricity. By letting green energy into your life, you will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air and lower your ecological footprint.
- With the development of renewable energy sources, the hope for the future of the planet grows
- Types of alternative energy sources
- The Paris Agreement of 2015 and outgoing ambitious goals of different countries of the world
With the development of renewable energy sources, the hope for the future of the planet grows
The pandemic has exacerbated controversy over the need for an early energy transition – replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources (RES), and falling demand for oil and gas in 2020 gave rise to many predictions about when the era of hydrocarbons will end. Some of them, for example, the French company Total, say that oil consumption will begin to fall at the end of this decade, while British BP expects demand to decline only after 2040.
Renewable energy comes from sustainable sources such as hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal power, biomass, and tidal power. Unlike fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal and uranium ore, these energy sources are not depleted, which is why they are called renewable. In 2019 alone, renewable energy facilities with a total capacity of 200 GW were installed around the world.
Types of alternative energy sources
1. Solar energy
The Sun is the main source of energy on Earth, because about 173 PW (or 173 million GW) of solar energy falls on our planet annually, and this is more than 10 thousand times the global energy demand. Photovoltaic modules on the roof or in open areas convert sunlight into electrical energy using semiconductors – mainly silicon. Solar collectors generate heat for heating and hot water production as well as air conditioning.
Solar panels can generate energy in cloudy weather and even in snow. For maximum efficiency, they should be installed at a certain angle – the farther from the equator, the greater the angle of installation of the panels.
2. Wind energy
The use of wind as a driving force is a long-standing tradition. Windmills were used for flour grinding, sawmills and as a pumping or water-lifting station. Modern wind turbines generate electricity from wind power. First, they convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy of the rotor, and then into electrical energy.
Wind power is one of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies. According to the latest data from IRENA, over the past two decades, global onshore and offshore wind power generation capacity has grown by almost 75 times – from 7.5 GW in 1997 to about 564 GW by 2018.
3. Energy of water
Even in ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, the energy of water was used to drive working machines, including mills. In the Middle Ages, water mills were used in Europe in sawmills and pulp and paper mills. Since the end of the 19th century, water energy has been actively used to generate electricity.
4. Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy uses the earth’s heat to generate electricity. The subsoil temperature allows heating the upper layers of the Earth and underground water bodies. The geothermal energy of the soil is extracted using shallow wells – this does not require large capital investments. It is especially effective in regions where hot springs are located close to the surface of the earth’s crust.
Bioenergy is universal. Heat, electricity and fuel can be produced from solid, liquid and gaseous biomass. At the same time, plant and animal waste is used as a renewable raw material.
6. Energy of the ebb and flow
Tides and waves are another way to get energy. They make a generator spin, which is responsible for generating electricity. Thus, to generate electricity, wave power plants use hydrodynamic energy, that is, energy, pressure drop and temperature difference in sea waves. Research in this area is still underway, but experts have already calculated that only the coast of Europe can generate more than 280 TWh of energy annually, which is half of Germany’s energy consumption.
The Paris Agreement of 2015 and outgoing ambitious goals of different countries of the world
According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency, the share of green sources in total production is steadily growing: in Germany it has already reached 34%, in the USA and India – 8-9%, in China – 6%. Three years ago, for the first time in the world, the volume of commissioning of renewable generation exceeded that of traditional generation. The IEA’s forecast for the future is the strengthening of the trend. This means that even without increasing the further volume of commissioning, the modern electric power industry has entered an irreversible trend, when the share of renewable energy will grow, and the traditional one will decline.
Countries around the world have set themselves ambitious targets for the transition to renewable energy. The targets are also part of the Paris Agreement – by 2030, zero-carbon solutions can be competitive in sectors that account for more than 70% of global emissions. It is planned to do this through the energy transition – the process of replacing the coal economy with renewable energy. In 2020, despite the pandemic and economic recession, many cities, countries and companies continued to announce or implement decarbonization plans.
India is expected to make the largest contribution to renewable energy in 2021. A number of wind and solar projects are planned to be launched here.
The European Union is also forecasting a jump in capacity growth in 2021. Here, even in the face of a pandemic, they do not forget about the Green Deal – the largest correction of the economic course in the history of the EU. The goal of the project is to create a carbon neutral space in the EU by 2030. For this, it is planned to reduce the volume of greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from the 1990 level and to increase the share of energy from renewable sources to 32% in the overall structure of energy consumption. According to the European Commission, these objectives can be achieved with the help of annual investments of € 260 billion. The share of renewable energy sources in the EU energy system is also constantly growing. Thus, about 40% of electricity in the first half of 2020 in the EU was produced from renewable sources.
In the meantime, the leaders of investments in the development of renewable energy are China, the USA, Japan and the UK. Since BloombergNEF began tracking this data, global investments in wind, solar, biofuels, biomass and waste, small hydropower have increased by almost an order of magnitude. On an annualized basis, investments in clean energy have grown from $ 33 billion to over $ 300 billion in 20 years.
China has become a major manufacturer of renewable energy equipment in ten years. First of all, we are talking about solar panels. Seven of the ten largest solar cell manufacturers in the world are Chinese companies. In general, the development of technologies has reduced the cost of building new renewable energy facilities. This brings China’s plans to become carbon neutral by 2060 closer.
US President Joe Biden is also expected to take serious steps towards energy transition. He not only returned the country to the Paris Agreement, but also announced that he intends to achieve net greenhouse gas emissions and a transition to 100% green energy by 2050.
Earlier it became known that Russia will reduce the amount of support for energy generation based on renewable sources. For the period 2025-2035, 306 billion rubles will be allocated for it. Before that, the plans included 400 billion, and a year earlier – 600 billion.
Increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the total energy needs of earthlings is the way to the wise use of natural resources. This is a concern for the health of future generations and the preservation of the Red Data Book plants and animals. Also, these are new highly qualified jobs that will entail science and education, will make it possible to create comfortable conditions in a difficult climate without harming the environment. The development of the industry over time will make it possible to use earthly experience on other planets and in long-distance space travel. It is possible that moving in this direction, humanity will someday gain access even to the energy of gravity.