The planet is full of abundant resources and opportunities making it possible to live in a civilized society while being environmentally-friendly, too. After so many years of destruction to the atmosphere, things are taking a drastic turn, and we are witnessing a decline in the supply of our most reliable sources of energy, fossil fuels.
There’s only so many holes that can be dug in the earth before it comes back to harm the planet, which it’s already started to do with climate change.
So what will happen when fossil fuels are way too hard or harmful to get? We, the human beings, will need to re-evaluate how we live and take to a new direction. Resorting to alternative sources of energy that are renewable and sustainable is essential to receive the type of energy we would like and to help bring the planet back into balance so it can do its beautiful thing.
This doesn’t mean that we will need to live like cavemen, thanks to the advanced technology we have today and extensive research, with matched efforts, good solutions are possible.
It’s only a matter of time before fossil fuels are exhausted
We have been relying on fossil fuels for so much of our existence that we have become accustomed to having whatever we want and whenever we want it without thinking twice about the consequences of our actions.
Fossil fuels won’t last forever, and that’s because they took lifetimes to develop in the first place. Fossil fuels come from plants and animals that lived over 200 million years ago and were created by the combination of these plants and animals that died and were covered with dirt.
The combination of the weight of it all, the microorganisms decomposing of the content, and the heat underneath the ground transformed them into what we have been using to fuel our energy. It’s incredible how the planet is full of resources for us, however, it’s apparent that these fuels won’t replenish themselves in 5 years or even 50. It will take much longer and too long for us to wait for.
Supply is unable to match the demand for energy nowadays and the energy it takes to get the last of what is left is unsustainable and harmful to the planet.
There is a lot of debate about when exactly natural gas, oil, and coal will run out. They all have different expiration dates depending on our consumption. It’s predicted that we will run out of oil and natural gases in the next 50 years while coal lasting another century would be the last fossil fuel to be depleted in a century. That doesn’t mean we should rely on coal because the process to mine coal causes way too much damage to the surrounding environment.
Embracing fossil fuel exhaustion
Transitioning from one energy source to the next has always taken a long time; it took 50 years for coal to overtake wood and another 50 years for oil to overtake coal.
Making the conversion to alternative, renewable resources may be difficult and is facing some challenges right now, but we have the ability to adapt and improve these systems to come up with global solutions.
During this shift, we will need to rethink our consumption habits. There are people around the world already making this transformation. When it comes to changing habits in any aspect, it can be difficult but, it’s not impossible.
Not only will changing our energy usage habits improve the impact we’ve had on the environment, but it will also bring more awareness to us and how we live our lives.
Sustainable and finite sources of renewable energy
Fossil fuels produce about 21.3 billion tons of CO2 annually, which is said to be the main global warming contributor and the leading cause of temperature rise on the surface of the earth. It’s also a major cause of extreme, peculiar changes in the weather globally.
In addition to this, non-renewable sources of energy aren’t infinite as they take a long time to restore themselves. That’s why renewable energies are more desirable today because they are infinite and can be replenished easily meaning we won’t run out of them or use them up over time.
The demand for energy around the world will continue to grow, pushing us closer to finding other ways to get our energy. However, the good thing is that as time continues to pass, there is a belief that renewable energy sources such as wind, water and solar will replace fossil fuels completely, reducing carbon emissions significantly.
Experts don’t know how soon or far away this transition will take place, but as of now, it is evident that it will be a slow change with a major shift in the next 10 years or so as solutions are advancing and becoming more innovative.
The shift needs to be sustainable, too
Converting to renewable energies needs to be a well thought out transformation to ensure that the new sources of energy are not only infinite and renewable but are sustainable as well.
There are three defining matters that making are something sustainable:
- Environmental sustainability: It doesn’t do harm to the environment.
- Social sustainability: Healthy circumstances for workers and decent wages.
- Economic sustainability: The ability of an economy to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely.
Taking these factors into consideration will make the shift to renewable energies much more worthwhile and will benefit us as well as the environment in the future.
We can’t completely predict the future since anything could happen. However, we do know that our access to fossil fuels is becoming more limited, and the use of them is only harming the environment.
A slow adjustment to renewable energies is the best way to plan for the future. We can work together with powerful incentives, innovation, and creativity to come up with the best solutions for resorting to renewable energy sources on a global scale.
Benefits of Solar Energy: Diverse Applications (Part 2)
With countless gadgets and technologies that can leverage solar power in the modern world, it is important to learn the benefits of solar energy and its diverse uses. My previous post about the diverse uses of solar energy offers an in-depth discussion of how this form of energy could be used at homes, holiday properties, and central power stations. Here are other applications of solar energy.
Solar water heating systems
In a home or business, hot water systems for kitchens, space heating, and bathrooms are nearly universal. What most people don’t know is that they can leverage solar power to get enough hot water in their homes and commercial buildings. Property owners can user thermal panels along with storage tanks to store the hot water. When needed, this water can circulate to a heater, shower or sink.
The modern ‘in floor’ heating systems and the traditional baseboard heating systems offer solar heat as the pre-heater to a traditional hot water tank or furnace. This will serve as the backup to your solar thermal system.
One of the common benefits of solar energy is the diverse industrial applications associated with it. For decades, solar energy has been the primary power supply of choice for many industrial applications, especially where power is needed in a remote area. In these applications, solar energy is cost-effective. This is because many individual uses need just a few kilowatts of electric power.
Solar energy is also used on transportation signalings such as lighthouses, offshore navigation buoys, road traffic warning signals, and aircraft warning lights. It is also used to power environmental or situation monitoring tools and even corrosion protection systems for well-heads, bridges, pipelines, and more. For huge electrical loads, it is cost-effective to configure the hybrid power system and link to a PV with a sizeable diesel generator.
The benefits of solar energy here include the reliability and minimal maintenance needed. That makes this form of energy ideal in regions that are hard to get to.
Lighting, water pumping, and heating in the developing world
In addition to off-grid properties, remote buildings such as clinics, schools, and community halls can benefit from solar power. It can power telephones, different pieces of refrigeration equipment, TV, and more. WHO (World Health Organization) requires every clinic to have these devices. Rather than having a base solar power generator for each dwelling, it is possible to configure a central power plant. The plant power homes through a local wired network. It can also serve as a battery charging station where the member of the entire community can charge their batteries here.
On a commercial building, atria can be effectively covered with PV modules. These modules are semi-transparent to offer shaded light. In factories, the large roof areas offer a perfect location for solar modules. Besides, the vertical walls of commercial buildings can offer opportunities for PV incorporation.
Whether it is charging a wireless speaker or powering a renewable, the list of uses and benefits of solar energy is endless.
Sources of Energy in Their Usage in Daily Life
Fossil fuels mainly consist of hydrogen and carbon bonds and are the important sources of energy since time immemorial. Man’s energy needs in every aspect are being served by fossil fuels only. These fuels are basically derived from the organic remains and decomposition of prehistoric animals and plants.
These organic remains are several million years old and are converted to carbon-containing fossil fuels by the extreme pressure and temperature of the Earth’s crust. These fuels produce a huge amount of heat and energy to meet man’s every need. Coal, petroleum and natural gas are considered to be the three most important fossil fuels. Let us discuss the four main types of fossil fuels known so far:
Petroleum, also known as crude oil or condensate is one of the most widely used fossil fuel. The word petroleum is derived from the Latin words petro and leum. Petro means rock and leum means oil. This fuel is highly valuable for mankind and almost every industry is dependent on this fuel. Hence it is also known as the “black gold”.
Petroleum is a liquid fuel that is made of hydrocarbons compounds inclusive of other liquid organic compounds. It is extensively used as fuel for automobiles, jets and to produce electricity. Its derivatives are also utilized in the plastic and medicine industries.
Petroleum products are derived from refined crude oil. Unprocessed crude oils that occur naturally are also referred to as petroleum products. Petroleum demand has been increasing year after year and which has immensely contributed to the water and air pollution worldwide. Because this is a stored reserve and due to high demand the oil field is depleting every year by around 2.5 per cent.
Coal is a flammable organic and one of the rich source of fossil fuel. It is usually brown or black in colour. About one-quarter of the total world’s energy and 40 per cent of the world’s electricity production is provided by coal. Several iron and steel industries in India and around the world are highly dependent upon coal.
Owing to its high use and demand coal reserves are also declining steeply and is on the verge of extinction within a few years from now. Hence we must find some alternative sources of energy that will serve the same purpose. Some of the alternative energy resources like solar energy, wind energy and hydro energy are being used widely, but the usage needs to be increased more.
Natural gas is a colourless gas and is a mixture of several hydrocarbon gases like methane, ethane, propane and butane. It is a combustible, convenient and efficient source of energy. Methane (CH4) is the main component of natural gas. It has two parts: conventional gas- which can easily be extracted and unconventional gas- which requires more advanced technologies for extraction.
Natural gas also helps in the generation of electricity and is widely used for industrial, commercial and residential purposes. Unlike any other fossil fuels, natural gas usually causes less pollution as this is comparatively cleaner. But like any other fossil fuel, this energy resource is also depleting rapidly.
Advantages of Solar Energy: Diverse Applications (Part 1)
There is a reason the advantages of solar energy have become a trending topic in discussions regarding renewables. Though it has been criticized for being less efficient and expensive, solar energy has proved to be beneficial. It is eco-friendly and financially affordable. Advancement in technology has made it easier to harness this form of energy.
Solar energy has an array of uses in both commercial and residential applications. Here are some of the most popular ways humans can use solar power.
Every household needs hot water and electric power. These basic needs are the top goals of solar thermal and solar PV systems. Over recent years, there has been an increase in the number of PV installations to buildings that connect to an electricity grid.
The demand for these systems has been stimulated partly by the government subsidy programs notably Germany and Japan. Also, the green pricing strategies of utilities or electric service providers have led to an increased demand for PV systems. The central driving force comes from the desire of companies or individuals to get their electric power from an eco-friendly, renewable source for which they pay low premiums.
In grid-connected systems, an effective PV system supplies electric power to the building, and all day-time excesses are exported to the power grid. These systems don’t require batteries as the grid can also offer additional power when necessary. But if you intend to be independent of the grid power supply, you need a battery to store power.
One of the most preferred energy solutions for holiday properties is Photovoltaic Systems. These systems have no access to the central electricity grid system. They are configured to meet power requirements less costly than extending the electricity grid to reach your holiday home.
Remote properties in sunny regions can get reliable electrical power for their radios, televisions, and lighting using a simple PV system. They also need a rechargeable battery to store all the power harnessed during the day, a charge controller, and wiring and switches. This system is often referred to as solar home systems (SHS).
The power storage capacity of the battery and the size of the PV module are designed to offer enough power and storage to meet the home’s energy requirements. This is commonly known as the ‘sizing’ system. Every system with battery storage must use the right battery design and specification for the system. That means a car battery shouldn’t be used!
Also, it is important to use high-quality fluorescent lamps as poor quality lumps will quickly blacken, dropping their light output. The charge regulator quality is also a critical factor in the overall reliability of the system. The PV modules can be mounted on the roof or a pole.
Central power stations
One of the advantages of solar energy is that central power stations can use it. In this case, applications use solar energy in a similar configuration to that a utility would utilize a power station. This is different from ‘distributed power’ applications or power distributed in low aggregate amounts.
To wrap up, the advantages of solar energy and its uses are unlimited.
Check the second part of this post here
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