May 13, 2018
Renewable Energy Sources
Is it a good idea to replace fossil fuel now or science fiction due to high cost and technological difficulties? Due to environmental problems and high cost of oil, many nations had taken actions and turned their attention to renewable energy. Some of them took a step further and set future goals on how much percentage of renewable energy they should depend in future years. Of course not all oil companies want these implementations to happened, but there are some as Siemens who has taken a revolutionary step. Inside the United States there is also controversy in whether renewable energy is good or not. This questions rise base on the economy and the government opinion. Until now, there is not a Renewable Energy Policy in the United States. However, states have the liberty to choose to implement and use renewable energy rather than the common fossil fuel.
Renewable energy is any source of energy that does not consume the finite resources of the Earth and can be easily and quickly replenished. Wind, sunshine, geothermal heat, and wave power are typical renewables. In this essay, I will focus on solar energy only.
The solar energy work in something called solar panels. Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity. A solar panel is a collection of solar cells. How it works is that the sun transmits energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. When this radiation is absorbed by the solar cells, it causes rapid electron movement. In the movement, electrons are forced to move in one direction, creating direct current (DC). Then it flows into an inverter which converts the DC into alternating current (AC) producing electricity. The more light that hits a solar cell, the more electricity it is produced. The economic benefits are that sunlight is free, abundant, and dependable. No CO 2 emissions are produced. (Northwestern University, 2013) Solar panels can be set in any placeCITATION NOR13 l 1033 (Northwestern sustainability fund annual report). Some people set them on the roof of their houses, others on free landscapes and others in parking lots. Yes, parking lots can be used as solar energy power plants. The creator of this magnificent idea is Erin Geegan. She owns the Zam Energy Company, in Colorado, which aims building owners to turn their parking lots into renewable energy power plants. The parking lots are covering with solar panels that are on 9-foot columns. These solar panels can swivel and twist to collect the sun’s energy. They are call “solar trees”. In return, the solar trees supply electricity for the buildings and provide charging stations for electric vehicles CITATION Whi12 l 1033 (Keefe).
The number one country to produce solar energy is Germany, like it was five years ago. In 2015, it had 35.7 GW solar power capacity installed, while in 2010, it had almost 10 times less (3.7GW). While Germany is the leader in capacities installed, Italy tops the list with the greatest percentage of solar energy produced, 17.6 GW. In 2015, 7.8% of the total amount of electricity was generated with the help of solar stations. China, the top carbon polluter, has taken the second place in solar energy production with 18.3 GW in 2015. By 2017, the country plans on increasing the amount of renewable energy up to 70 GW. The fact that China is the biggest solar panel producer helps it reach its targets significantly. The remaining countries in the top 10 list are Japan, the USA, Spain, France, Australia, Belgium, and the UK, in the respective order CITATION BP15 l 1033 (BP).
If one compares the amounts of gigawatts of solar energy produced in 2010 and in 2015, one will see an increase in the capacity which is thousands of percent in some countries. It is a positive trend that might lead to major economies switching to renewable energy sources in the future completely. This will lead to more rational consumption of natural resources and help decrease the level of atmosphere pollution with carbon dioxide and other substances.
Renewable energy is already a plan in the future. Most countries have notice that they cannot depend on fossil fuel energy forever. Its high cost and damage to the environment has given opportunity to renewable energy sources. Renewable energy is clean, cheaper, and quickly to replenish. However, there is a down side in renewable energy. It is not a well reliable source of energy. Renewable energy depends strongly on the day/night cycle and momentary weather conditions, such as sunshine and wind force. For this reason, Siemens has come up with the idea to join both energy sources. Siemens has created a combined cycle power plant that will provide electricity at all times. These combined cycle power plants will make power plants more efficient and more eco-friendly. The old generators consume large quantities of fossil fuel and have to be turn-on all the time. Base the research, the old generators waste about 60% of electricity generated because they have to be turn-on all the time. If the old generators are shut-down, it will take time to be turn-on and it will consume a lot of fossil fuel in the process. Even though saving electricity at home helps the environment, electricity is still been wasted because the old generators cannot be shut down CITATION Muk05 l 1033 (Patel).
In conclusion, there are new renewable resources that can be used instead of fossil fuels. The major renewable resources that generate almost not CO2 are wind and solar energy. With respect to renewable energy power plants, the United States is far behind from what Europe nations are; however, this does not mean that we are making progress. Although there is not a nationwide Renewable Energy Policy in the United States, about half of the states are making remarkable changes within their jurisdictions. Moreover, the states have adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS). Also, the states are setting future goals about how much percentage of renewable energy they should use in the future. The top leader is California with a goal to obtain 33% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
In my opinion, the future of energy sources is not only renewable energy, but a combined cycle power plants. This will be power plants that work primary with renewable energy and secondary with fossil fuels. This is a Siemens project for the future. And I believe that it is the best solution for the moment because most of the nations around the world cannot relay 100% on renewable energy. Siemens’ power plants emit less CO2 than the old power plants.
BIBLIOGRAPHY BP. BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2015, Electricity section. , June 2015.
Keefe, White House Honors Solar Parking Lot Innovator. image of Bob. by Bob Keefe. April 19, 2012.
Northwestern sustainability fund annual report. 2013.
Patel, Mukund R. Wind and Solar Power Systems: Design, Analysis, and Operation, Second Edition. CRC Press, 2005.