Conventional energy resources are going to end someday soon, and that day seems to be sooner rather than later. Better economic conditions have made millions of people buy cars, ACs, refrigerators and other items which release greenhouse gases.
After decades of leading lavish lifestyles, and increasing all kinds of industrial activity to meet demands, we have caused the depletion of natural resources drastically in just a period of two hundred years.
Now, humanity is scrambling to find alternative energy sources including renewable energy, such as solar, wind, hydro etc. The question is, will this renewable energy be enough to run the world. Let’s take a look at whether it’s possible, or to what extent can we depend on renewable energy:
Climate change and global warming doomsayers have predicted an apocalyptic scenario for the planet. According to them, New York would be hotter than a Middle Eastern country, there would be drought where food is grown, and the melting ice would release diseases like the bubonic plague.
To counter a horrific situation such as this, humanity has to change its behavior and turn to renewable energy, in a bid to conserve resources, and reduce global warming.
Renewable energy sources could be an answer, but the question is, would these alternative energy sources be enough to meet the huge global demand of billions of people, with the number increasing every day?
What percentage of energy is renewable presently
Renewable energy, namely solar and wind energy accounts for a pitiable 5.5 % energy demand globally, even though costs have fallen. On the other hand, Hydropower is a much more reliable source of energy but due to increasing costs and falling investments, it has yet to make any significant contribution. As solar and wind energy accounts for 1.6% of the energy required for transport and domestic purposes, the goal of 100% renewable energy seems unattainable right now.
Renewables can be driven up through awareness and investment
Energy transitions, such as the transition of coal into hydrocarbons, take at least centuries. We can find out the investment flow by studding the rate of change. Many countries, especially European countries and USA, have set renewable energy goals, which would indicate that the renewable energy sector would be boosted by government funds, grants and subsidies. Continuous support from governments globally has actually enabled renewable energy to reach where it has reached now. In some countries, solar power is cheaper than natural gas and coal.
In Scotland and Denmark, which derive a lot of power from wind energy, already the power demand are being met by renewable wind energy.
Should we focus only on renewable energy as alternative energy
The big debate is on how to reduce or remove fossil fuels from the energy equation. Many scientists are of the opinion that focusing only on solar, hydro and wind power and not developing bioenergy and nuclear power etc simultaneously would be a big mistake, because we would still have to depend on conventional energy, when due to natural causes, renewable sources do not function at an optimum. For example, when there are clouds or rain, or days when the wind is low or non-existent. According to companies focusing on other zero-carbon technology, focusing only on solar, wind and hydropower would make the transition to zero –carbon energy more expensive.
Factors which could lead to 100% alternative energy
Improving transmission grids, and better designed factories and buildings/ homes which require much less energy to run, such as natural cooling and heating systems for industrial units and buildings, sourcing materials locally and so on, could help to reduce energy consumption. Reduction in energy consumption globally could allow renewable or alternative energy to meet the demand for energy. Batteries using clean energy in electric vehicles would also reduce fossil oil demand.
For investors, the profit from renewable energy is much less when compared to conventional energy sources, which is also why the technology has not received the investment it requires. The world can run on a combination of alternative energy, including renewable, in the future, though it’s safe to say that it would take another 50 years at least till we see that happen.