How do renewables enhance energy sustainability?
One of the greatest challenges that we face today is the access to a sustainable energy to meet our demand. When the energy consumption exponentially increases while the fossil-fuel depletes drastically, how to have energy sustainability? This article shows a green signal to energy sustainability through green renewable energy technologies.
People's concernIn recent years, people are concern about the exponential rise in global energy demand and its impact on the environment and their modern way of life. This is an intricate challenge for the electricity industry to overcome under the declining fossil-fuel reserve conditions immediately. Hence, the only way of resolving the crucial issue and ensuring energy sustainability is to quest for a renewable energy-based strategy of producing electricity economically, efficiently, and eco-friendly.
What is renewable energy? Perhaps, the foremost incredible innovation developed by humans is the production of electricity which changed lives radically. It's long been axiomatic that global economic growth and electricity demand are associated. While electricity is claimed to be a clean source of energy, the methods of producing it are not environmental-friendly. As of 2020, the fossil-fuel energy sector, the foremost electricity producer has a significant share of 44.3 per cent of the global CO2 emissions resulting in 4.2 million deaths every year. Such a critical condition and the fast depleting fuel reserve status necessitated the need for alternatives to fossil-fueled electricity generation such as sustainable renewable energy technologies.
Countries with intensive practiceRenewable energy technologies are utilitarian dreams that emerged to meet the ever-increasing energy demand. They are well-received at the global level as clean and sustainable energy derived from natural resources. Renewables replenish more rapidly than the rate at which they are consumed. As of today, more than 150 countries are in intensive practice by embracing solar, wind, and hydro energy through increasingly innovative, efficient, and less expensive ways. It is not a miracle, but fact that already three, countries such as Iceland, Paraguay, and Costa Rica are with 100 per cent renewable energy accomplishment.
Most proven renewablesIn the global total electricity generation, hydropower as the prime renewable has 17 per cent contribution. In 2019, its generation reached 4,306 terawatt-hours (TWh), the single biggest contribution from sustainable power sources ever. It registers a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.3 per cent over the forecast period 2020 to 2026 with a market value of 3.2 billion USD by 2026. As of today, the wind flows as the second most renewable energy with 622 GW in 2019. Its market is expected to grow at 7.2 per cent from 2019 to 2023 reaching 134 billion USD by 2023. The next scintillating renewable energy is solar power. The global market shines at 223.3 billion USD by 2026 with 20.5 percent to CAGR from 2019 to 2026.
Benefits of renewablesThe benefits of renewables are abundant. Renewables are of a replenishing nature and won't run out. They require less maintenance because of few or no moving parts like solar panels and wind turbines, and no fuel combustion and heat generation; hence, they have increased lifetime, less maintenance cost, and saving of money and time. Besides, there is a major saving on operating costs since no fuel is required for wind, solar, and hydropower. Compared to the unit cost of electricity generated by fossil fuels (USD 0.06-0.14 per kWh), the unit cost of wind energy is USD 0.056, solar: USD 0.085, and Hydro: USD 0.047. That means renewables are highly competitive in energy costs!
Renewables are environmental-friendly and don't harm humans since they don't release any hazardous pollutants. As locally available natural resources are used there is no need for external dependence or import. Apart from energy generation by wind farming, the land is suitable for low-height crops cultivation for more income. Renewable energy harnessing is considered a potential new source for jobs and rural development in participating countries.
Challenges aheadOf course, challenges are there. Renewable projects require high capital investment despite tax credits and rebates. As they depend on local weather conditions, renewable energy is not available 24/7, year-round. Because of the intermittent nature, their capacity factor is very low (hydro: 39.1%, wind: 34.8%, and solar: 24.5%) compared to fossil-fuel projects (coal: 47.5%); hence, expected power generation is not achievable as per the design. Besides, there's a high need for energy storage due to its intermittency involving additional investment. Finally, the rural residents have their reservations about these developments since these projects have impacts on their landscape and wildlife.
Though there is awareness among people and administrators on renewable energy developments, the leap isn't sufficient to offset the effects of industrialization, worldwide economic growth, environmental pollution, and a growing population. Rapid change is possible when an initial shove to surmount the economic barriers by solid market enticements and large-scale investment. A sharp pick-up in efficiency improvements of the existing renewable energy technology is the absolute most significant component that brings the world towards the Energy Sustainable Scenario.
Overcome the energy barriers, sustain and succeed in your life ambitions!