Green or renewable energy comes in different forms, including hydroelectricity, geothermal and biomass energy, hydrogen, and others. Some experts argue that renewable energy is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels because of factors such as demand and population growth. At the same time, estimates show that humankind will run out of nonrenewable sources over a period of 50 to 120 years. This means that the only way to meet increasing demand is to produce and use renewable energy sources in a more cost-effective way.
Sources of Green Energy
Sources of renewable energy include solar and wind power, biodiesel, ethanol, biogas and landfill gas, municipal waste, and wood waste and wood. What they share in common is that green sources regenerate. Water or hydro power is generated by marine current, osmotic energy, run-of-river hydro, and pump-storage technology. Other ways to produce hydro power include tidal power and wave power technology, small-scale hydro technology, and hydroelectric dams. Green fuels are produced by distilling and fermenting different crops, including wheat, barley, and corn. Propane, hydrogen, and electricity are also used to power cars. Other sources of green fuel include vegetable fuels made from olive, soy, and sunflower oil and ethanol which is produced from residues, switchgrass, maize, sugarcane, and other crops. Methane is also a green fuel that is produced through decomposition of sewage sludge and waste at landfill sites.
Benefits of Renewable Sources
Renewable fuels, for example, offer many benefits, the main one being that they are cleaner and environmentally safe. Fuels that are produced through bacteriological decomposition help reduce waste. Obviously, the main benefit is the fact that they are renewable, i.e. cannot be depleted. This makes green energy inexhaustible. What is more, green energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuel production, industrial plants, and human activity in general generate gases that cause rise in sea levels, draught, more frequent and powerful storms, and global warming. Fossil fuels also contribute to water and air pollution and serious health conditions such as cancer, heart attack, breathing problems, and others. Green energy, on the other hand, is cleaner and helps reduce environmental pollution. Another benefit is that green energy helps create jobs because it is more labor intensive. Hundreds and thousands of people are employed at different plants and facilities, including turbine and construction installation, manufacturing and solar installation, maintenance and operations, and many others.
Are Renewable Sources a Viable Alternative to Fossil Fuels?
One of the main problems is that green energy is more expensive to produce. The fact that production is more labor intensive means that it is more expensive to generate. The good news is that this is changing and some renewable sources have already become more affordable and competitive. Onshore wind is a good example. Large-scale green power projects such as the Severn Barrage also generate energy that is cost competitive. At the same time hydro power generated by run-of-river, tidal stream, and marine technology is still more expensive to produce. Another problem is that many facilities are found in remote locations which results in transmission losses. Some sources of green energy are uncertain, one example being solar power.
Funding is available under green infrastructure programs, the Energy Innovation Program, Clean Growth Program, Program of Energy Research and Development, and others. The Energy Innovation Program, for example, aims to promote stable and sustainable growth. Focus areas and goals of the program include better industrial efficiency, carbon capture, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Growth Program offers funding for research and development and focuses on water waste reduction, use of bioproducts to generate green energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Program of Energy Research and Development is run by the federal government and offers financing to federal agencies and departments. The agencies and departments, on the other hand, offer funding to associations, companies, research bodies, and alliances and consortia.