Powered by Renewable Energy: Countries & Sources

Energy, Environment, ISO Standards

Renewable sources of energy are also known as infinite energy resources as they have the capability to replenish themselves and be reused. The shift towards renewable energy is largely motivated by increasing global temperatures, pollution and rapid depletion in fossil fuels. Hence, owing to above mentioned factors, renewable energy use has grown much faster than anticipated. 2015 observed the largest ever annual increase in the addition of renewable power capacity. Wind and Solar PV have seen record additions for the third consecutive year so far.

Furthermore, the Paris Agreement has also influenced commitment from countries across the globe to scale up the use of renewable energy and produce energy more efficiently. Renewable energy sources accounted for 90% of all new power added to Europe’s electricity grid last year. Let’s have a look at a few countries which are doing extremely well in this domain and are worth a mention.

Denmark –

Denmark has set a target for itself to use 100% renewable energies by 2035 and eliminate use of fossil fuels completely by 2050. Denmark is a leader in wind power generation which produces sufficient power for 40% of its population. With high winds at its back, Denmark has at one point also produced 140% its own energy use. Excess is either exported or stored for future usage.

Costa Rica –

Costa Rica managed to run on renewable energy alone for 75 days in 2015, the only country to go so long without any reliance on non-renewable forms of energy. The country’s exceptional landscape and geography helps it to meet a great amount of its energy requirement through solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal sources. The country even aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2021.

Germany –

Germany aims to move away from nuclear and fossil fuels as a part of a program called ‘Energiewande’ or energy transformation. A couple of years ago, on its best day, Germany met 78% of a day’s electricity requirements just from renewable energy. The country has set the trend as far as renewable energy is concerned with its main focus on capturing solar energy.

Sweden –

Sweden has been praised by the International Energy Agency for its energy policy. The country has set an example by producing more energy from biomass than from petroleum. Sweden makes use of limited coal which is more affordable and beneficial for the environment and the consumers alike. Government investment in solar and wind energy storage, smarter grids and cleaner transportation have been continually increased.

China –

China is considered to be the world’s largest carbon emitter, but in spite of this is a leader in solar energy creation and consumption. China has the most installed wind energy capacity followed by Germany and the second highest installed solar PV capacity in the world. The government has implemented plans to meet 27% of the country’s total power requirement through renewable energy by 2020.

Kenya –

Kenya has vast potential in geo-thermal energy and is on the right track to attracting investment to exploit this and reduce dependency on electricity imports. Kenya also hosts Africa’s largest wind farm which can provide up to 20% of the country’s requirement. Combined, the two renewable sources have the capacity of generating at least 70% of the country’s total energy requirement.

There is an increase in the popularity of renewable resources and their consumption around the world. However, the concept still faces a number of significant barriers in the form of climate change denial, political instability, unsustainability related to renewable resources (land use, construction costs etc.), outdated technology and infrastructure.

Sources of Renewable Energy:

Let’s focus on various sources of renewable energy along with their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Solar Energy: – Captured in solar panels and converted into electricity.
  • Advantages: Infinite energy supply if captured appropriately. Residents can have their own panels and electricity supply.
  • Disadvantages: Production and installation process can be costly.
  1. Wind Energy: – Windmills or wind turbines convert energy generated from wind into electricity.
  • Advantages: Wind farms can generate a huge supply of electricity infinitely.
  • Disadvantages: Production and installation process can be costly.
  1. Geothermal: – Using natural heat of the Earth to produce electricity by pumping cold water into the ground and using the steam in return to power turbines that generate electricity.
  • Advantages: If used appropriately, can generate power infinitely.
  • Disadvantages: Can only be set up in areas of volcanic activities. In some cases, can also lead to emission of Sulphur Dioxide into the atmosphere which is a dangerous gas and can cause heart & lung disease.
  1. Tidal:  – Powerful movement of tides is used to drive turbines built underwater and generate power.
  • Advantages: Tidal Barrage can be used as a bride as well and can help in preventing flooding.
  • Disadvantages: It can have a negative impact on underwater wildlife. Also, constructing a tidal barrage is also very costly.
  1. Biomass: – Organic material such as animal waste or decaying plant when burned can be used to generate energy or electricity. For example, oil-seed rape is used as a fuel in diesel engines after treatment with chemicals.
  • Advantages: It is cheap and is readily available.
  • Disadvantages: When burned and treated with chemicals, the process releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  1. Hydroelectric Power: – Energy captured by movement of water in rivers and lakes by construction of dams and reservoirs.
  • Advantages: Can also act as a water reserve.
  • Disadvantages: Considerable risk of flooding is involved. Constructing a dam requires a huge investment.

Renewable Energy

Other relevant forms of renewable energy sources are wave and wood energy. Wave energy is only appropriate for an island and generating power by burning wood involves a large amount of CO2 emissions.

The importance of the switch from conventional energy sources to renewable energy cannot be understated if states are to minimise the impact on the environment. Investing in solar, wind and geothermal energy might involve huge costs but is worthwhile in the long run as unlike other sources of energy, renewable energy is infinite. Furthermore, it also creates more job opportunity locally and less dependency on imports, hence, cutting costs.

Sources:        

Active Sustainability

BBC

Forbes

The Guardian

Quartz

Tags
CO2 Emissions , Energy , Environment , ISO 14001 , ISO 50001 , Renewable Energy , Renewable Energy Sources
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