Cleaner Energy, Greener Planet
Energy drives our world today. From the kitchen to the boardroom, from the garden to a football field, energy is consumed by us in some form or the other; as electricity, battery charge, gasoline, cooking gas etc. Energy is being consumed even as this article is being read. World over there’s a wave, urging the people to switch to cleaner, renewable energy. Is this urgency in switching from unclean, nonrenewable energy to renewable and sustainable energy, necessary and valid? Absolutely!
Our planet has a population in excess of 7 billion today; with the strong economic development and booming population, the energy consumed is fast reaching the 600 quadrillion Btu limit.
If every bit of energy consumed by our race be derived from the unclean, nonrenewable, fossil fuels, earth will turn into a lifeless black hole, with no clean air, polluted water, totally inhabitable temperatures, near zero ozone layer, oiled oceans and smog filled atmosphere. Clean energy sources are not just the need of the hour; they are the prime necessity for the future.
Clean energy sources/forms are those that are replenished by nature (renewable), do not (or a negligible quantity) emit harmful, air polluting greenhouse gases and which are carbon neutral. Solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, hydro power, biomass and wave energy are among the fore forms of clean energy. These forms derive power from natural resources sunlight, geothermal heat, wind, water, biological matter (decomposable) and the mighty force of ocean’s tidal waves. In layman terms, it is deriving energy (electricity, heat) from everyday resources (sun, wind, air, water, ground’s heat) without harming or reducing nature’s capability to produce/sustain.
Nonrenewable sources do nonrenewable (read non repairable) damage to the environment. Emission of greenhouse gases (especially CO2) and depletion of ozone is the primary cause of concern. Oil spills are equally dangerous, it can take decades to undo and normalize a region’s ecosystem after an oil spill. El Nino, increasing sea level, an almost 1 degree rise in global temperature are few of the countless other side effects of pollution. Global warmingtalk may seem rhetoric but it cannot be emphasized enough.
There are numerous stupendous examples across the worlds that underline the fact that clean, sustainable energyis the way forward. Masdar City built in UAE, Kenya’s renewable energy system (Kenya has the largest number of solar power systems per capita), Chile’s solar power production are some of the examples that might have seemed like fables some years before but are a functioning reality today. Serious energy planning and its meticulous implementation; starting from sustainable energy consulting to building efficient energy infrastructure is essential. The model developed during energy planning must shift the focus from unclean energy sources like crude oil, LPG, kerosene etc., to sources like solar thermal collectors, wind turbines and hydroelectricity. Building cost effective energy infrastructure which is also ecofriendly is one of the main road blocks. Depending on the region’s terrain, geological position and ecosystem, the infrastructure must be developed, meeting the local environmental guidelines.
The easy availability of sustainable energy to end user also plays a key role in deciding whether the energy source will be ubiquitous or eventually obsolete. Energy consultants today should focus on the ease of availability and reduction of cost of cleaner energy forms. For example, a battery driven car, a household solar heating panel etc., are possible but the procurement of such batteries, panels and their maintenance should be hassle free for the general population.
What is needed today is deep penetration of these technologies into the society, in a way that alters people’s choice of energy source. No matter which walk of life one comes from and which stream of vocation one earns his/her livelihood from; each and every one can contribute in saving for future. Much of the world’s population today is informed and alert about clean energy sources. If everyone tries to proactively work towards using more of cleaner forms of energy and ration his/her usage of nonrenewable energy sources, Earth will be healthier, cleaner and greener than ever. Switching from a gasoline driven sedan to a solar/battery operated car or taking tube train instead of the taxi may sound difficult but it is not impossible. Saving a dime worth of nonrenewable energy today might save billions from being spent on cleaning the planet tomorrow!