Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’
As fossil fuel reserves begin to dwindle, prices start to rise and treaties calling on the world’s leaders to lower their carbon emissions reach their final stages, the world is starting to look to renewable energies as the solution to a very big problem. There are a number of sources of renewable energy, including hydro, wind, ethanol and solar power, and the likely scenario is that a combination of all will be utilised in the future in order to generate enough energy to meet global demand. Here, we look at the pros and cons of each to try to get a better picture of our renewable, sustainable future.
Unlike fossil fuels, all renewable energy sources are clean and green, meaning they produce little or no pollution – no chemical processes occur so there are no harmful by-products. However, the current costs are relatively high and there are problems with consistency.
• Solar power is ideal for generating power directly to individual homes or businesses – solar can be installed in a vast range of sizes, making it incredibly flexible.
• Installation is quick and homeowners can be enjoying solar energy in a matter of days.
• It is available all over the world, wherever the sun shines.
• Most countries offer tax incentives.
• After the initial investment in the photovoltaic panels the energy is completely free.
• Many panels are needed to produce the total energy required, even for one household.
• On cloudy days and during the night little or no energy can be produced.
• There are opportunities for recreation on the reservoirs which are created as a result of damming.
• The dams provide a form of flood control.
• Hydro plants have a long life compared to even nuclear plants so the initial cost is a long-term investment which pays for itself over time.
• Natural river flows are disrupted, which blocks seasonal fish migration and spawning and causes ecosystem damage.
• Large areas of land are flooded.
• It can take up to ten years to build a large hydro plant.
• Once the wind turbines are built and installed, there is a very low maintenance cost.
• Wind farms can be built off-shore.
• Land occupied by turbines can still be used for livestock farming and grazing.
• Wind energy has already gone mainstream so the industrial base is there.
• Wind is an unreliable source of energy and is wholly dependant on weather conditions, geography and the seasons.
• Wind turbines are expensive and the initial start-up costs are high.
• Some consider turbines to be an eyesore, blighting the landscape.
• The turbines can be incredibly noisy.
• The rapidly rotating blades place birds in severe danger.
• As a fuel additive to gasoline, ethanol helps to reduce toxic gases.
• Ethanol is relatively inexpensive to process.
• The production of ethanol supports rural agricultural communities.
• It uses more energy to produce than it makes.
• There is evidence that ethanol corrodes engines over time.
• When there are still countries which suffer from severe food shortages, many question the ethics of planting crops solely to supply energy.
Emily Buckley is a journalist who is passionate about energy conservation and has written a number of articles relating to Solar Power informing the world how it can help the environment and save you money
The utopia of environmentalists is to have a 100% renewable economy. Renewable energy used to power the world. Those opposed to this concept say that it could never happen, however, it is just an idealistic dream, the pragmatics of which just don’t work.
A report released by the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2011, is a compelling argument for renewable energy, however. The report, entitled The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, argues that the switch to renewable energy is not just a possibility, it’s a necessity.
The WWF collaborated with energy consultancy Ecofys and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture to carry out the report and funding was given by ENECO, a Dutch energy company. The report presents a scenario where 95% of the world’s energy needs are met by renewable energy in the year 2050.
Although there’s a 5% disparity between the future presented in the report and complete reliance on renewable energy, it’s still a big jump from two years ago, when renewable energy accounted for just 25% of the world’s energy, according to a report by the Institute of Science.
The WWF argue that this increase in renewable energy use would be possible by retrofitting houses with renewable energy systems as well as insulation. There would also need to be a shift in transportation habits, with less aviation and more use of renewably powered transport, such as plug-in electric vehicles.
The forms of energy that they propose using are wind, hydropower, solar, geothermal and bioenergy. The use of traditional energy sources would be phased out; however, 5% would remain for industrial processes, although these processes would need to be much more efficient.
While the idea is sound, putting it into practice is another matter. Arguments against a renewable future tend to point to the fact that renewable energy simply isn’t viable. The cost to install all the necessary systems wouldn’t be recouped for as long as 20 years. Although renewable energy companies may be able to benefit, this would be a massive hit for companies trading in traditional sources.
There is also the issue of geography. Solar panels may be alright in the Bahamas, but if you live in Scotland, a lack of sun would severely hamper your ability to have green electricity surging through your house. Similarly, some areas simply aren’t windy enough to sustain a wind farm, and it’s not like you can just import a breeze.
However, the WWF report touches on the need for equity, and understands the need to share our energy equally between successful projects and less successful projects. The report also states that a switch to renewable energy is needed to stop climate change from causing irrevocable damage to the planet.
In theory, a future with renewable energy is possible and even viable. However, reaching a renewable future will take massive changes and incur huge costs. Despite this, the fact remains that fossil fuels will one day run out and an alternative energy source will be required. Although there may be a lot of energy used in the initial installation of necessary systems required for a renewable future, in the long term, the carbon footprint would be reduced and the cost would be recouped. So it would make sense to start building for that future now.
Britain’s leading community renewable energy platform, energyshare, has launched a competition for five community renewable energy projects to win match funding of up to £5,000 through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s crowd-funding platform peoplefund.it
Community renewable energy projects Nationwide have an exciting new opportunity to boost their fund raising thanks to a new energyshare fund competition launched on peoplefund.it.
The first five renewable energy projects who raise £5,000 via crowdfunding platform, peoplefund.it will receive match funding of £5,000 to support their project.
To have a chance of winning the extra funding, community energy projects register their project, via energyshare.com. http://www.energyshare.com/community-fund/
Their project will appear on the peoplefund.it site, where they can ask people to support their projects by pledging amounts of up to £100 onpeoplefund.it. Once they raise £5,000, they will get the cash – and if they are one of the first five to do so, they will also get match funding. This new energyshare funding has been secured from British Gas.
Community renewable energy projects can include anything from schools to community halls to skateparks!
The energyshare/peoplefund.it competition is part of the launch of a new energyshare fund, launched on energyshare. There will also be three awards of £2,500 available only on the main energyshare.com site. Groups will need to complete a short online application form which will, once applications close on 10th May, be reviewed and judged by British Gas, NESTA, and Forum for the Future.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for community energy projects to increase their funding support by unlocking the power of the local community on peoplefund.it,” says Peoplefund.it’s Nick Underhill. “We are looking forward to seeing communities really get behind some great projects.”
It has been a longstanding myth that going green is a costly habit. However, this has been proven untrue in many aspects, and going green in most cases can even save you money. The very principle that the green movement is founded on is efficiency, which means that you could be getting more value for less money.
How does this principle apply to the renewable energy debate? In every way. Not only does renewable energy cost less, but it also offers much bigger returns than a few pounds off of your electricity bill. Going with renewable energy is a sure way to strengthen your health and the UK economy, which are both longer lasting impacts. Find out more here.
Why should you switch to renewable energy?
1. Renewable sources of energy will never run out. Given the unpredictability of fossil fuel supplies and subsequently, their prices, the infinite supply of renewable energy sources is a major plus that has the ability to stabilise economic markets and provide energy service to homeowners and businesses at a reasonable rate. With sources like wind power and solar power, energy consumers can remove the uncertainty that revolves around relying on energy from unstable places such as the Middle East.
2. Green energy is better for the environment. Burning petroleum and coal isn’t just harmful for the environment–it is also detrimental to the continued health of the planet, and in turn, the planet’s population. When we use sources that don’t pollute the atmosphere or our drinking water, we are making an investment in the future and eliminating possible health hazards and health care costs.
3. Green power has the potential to help bring the economy back from the brink. Unlike importing fossil fuels from other countries, an investment in renewable energy can stimulate economic conditions where we need it most: right here in the UK. As one of the most forward-thinking nations in Europe, we have already invested in off shore wind turbines, which have proven just how beneficial even more energy initiatives like this can be. In addition to generating money for the infrastructure, an investment in renewable energy would also create more jobs.
4. Renewable energy can compete with the Big Six. If you’re one of the home energy consumers who has experienced higher energy rates over the past few years due to the Big Six raising prices, renewable energy companies can give you relief. In fact, the recent “Which?” customer satisfaction survey just named a 100 percent renewable energy supplier the best in the industry for the second consecutive time. Good Energy garnered high ratings by putting the economic interests of consumers first; in 2011, the company held service rates steady, unlike many of its industry counterparts. Customers also save an average of three per cent on their energy bills by using the green energy supplier.
Now that you have the pertinent details, you can find a renewable energy company in your area and compare rates with your current service for definitive proof that green energy doesn’t have to cost more.
As you may know, if you’ve seen my latest article for At Home magazine, I am proud to be championing social enterprise co-operative, Sheffield Renewables, in their bid to win £100,000 of funding from British Gas and River Cottage’s initiative, energyshare.
Sheffield Renewables was formed by a group of local volunteers in 2007 who want to see a greener city, with more renewable energy and their plans are to develop, own and operate a community owned hydro-electric scheme at Jordan Dam on the River Don, near Meadowhall.
Currently raising £500,000 to build this scheme, Jordan Dam Hydro will generate as much electricity as used by 80 homes, which will save about 170 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and any profits from the selling the electricity will help to develop other energy schemes.
Sheffield Renewables’ is financially supported by local investors buying shares in the scheme, who receive a modest return complemented by wider social benefits. This type of funding ensures that Jordan Dam Hydro and Sheffield Renewables’ future projects will be controlled and owned by the community. When completed, Jordan Dam Hydro is expected to be the largest community owned hydro project in the UK.
Chosen from hundreds of community projects nationwide, Sheffield Renewables are now in the last round of the energyshare competition and need your votes to help them secure their win.
To find out more about the scheme, how it will benefit their local community and their bid for energyshare funding, I headed off to Sheffield to meet two of the team, Mark Ellis and Luke Wilson
Here’s what they had to tell me.
To register your support, just follow these simple steps:
1. Go to www.energyshare.com/voting
2. Left click on the ‘Vote’ button next to ‘Sheffield Renewables’
3. Follow the instructions on screen
If you would like more help with voting, please see our photo guide, available through Facebook at http://tiny.cc/kntxd (you do not need to have a Facebook account to view it)
Don’t forget to vote as soon as possible and spread the word before the deadline, 5pm Saturday 3rd December.
Anyone voting can also become a winner – River Cottage is giving away 5 books every day to voters. Plus, for the energyshare Group that gets the most supporters voting, they can scoop a £1,000 cash prize.
So please, get involved now!
This is a sponsored opportunity on behalf of British Gas