Renewable energy can be defined as energy derived from non-nuclear sources. The supply of renewable energy is over time and it is not limited. In the United States in 2003, the consumption of renewable energy comprised about six per cent of the total energy consumption, in contrast, to 86 per cent of all energy consumed that came from fossil energy sources the remaining segment was supplied by nuclear energy sources. With assistance from Dr Vance Adair, I carried out research to establish the preferability, functionality and economic viability of renewable sources of energy.
Using a social networking site, the research group conducted research to establish the people’s opinion on the functionality and economic viability of current alternative energy sources. This survey lasted for a period of ten days. The comments were then critically analyzed by our research group to establish independent opinions.
To collect peoples views on the development and use of renewable energy, questionnaires were distributed to correspondents who filled them and submitted them back to our drop off points. The sampling used was stratified sampling that targeted all predetermined representative classes in the society (the elderly, the youth, the working class (employed), employers). Additional questionnaires that targeted specifically business owners and what they thought would be the effect of renewable energy on their businesses
The views of Jonathan Porritt, an influential and outspoken proponent of the use of renewable sources of energy were established in an interview carried out by a panel of young scientists. His views are expressed as part of the results in this research paper.
Internet survey results
A total of 220 fully comprehensible comments were analyzed during the internet survey. Of these, 67% ascertained that the alternative sources of energy were economically viable with proper research and investments.
A total of 300 people filled and successfully returned the questionnaires at our drop off points. Out of these, 55% believed that more priority should be the development of biomass energy because of its ability to produce fuel; this is mainly attributed to the high percentage of people who use cars as a mode of transport to and from work as well as running other errands. 37% of the correspondents preferred solar energy Due to the fact that it’s relatively cheap to maintain as well as having the capability to increase their own energy production capacity through the installation of additional solar panels (photovoltaic cells). However, the unreliability of weather in some parts is a major drawback in the utilization of this resource. Wind energy received the lowest priority backing.
As regards policy frameworks, 57% affirmed that the government policy framework is not a key hindrance however, 76% required financial and technical support from the government to be able to independently adopt renewable energy, For example, solar energy in their homes. 14% opted for the sensitization of the community on the presence of alternative sources of energy while only10% said that big companies should be left the role of developing the alternative sources of energy.
A whopping 95% of the correspondents said that the future of renewable energy is bright. This response was mainly driven by the fact that almost everybody accepted the need to utilize non-polluting sources of energy. The heavy dependence on oil from the Middle East and other members of the OPEC as the sole energy to drive the economy was touted as inappropriate and measures should be taken to ensure the development of renewable sources of energy to avoid unfortunate events in the future that may cut the importation of fuel.
A large proportion of the correspondents surveyed said that it is important for individuals to take bold steps in ensuring that the use of renewable energy resources increases. This would cushion them from economic upheavals and uncertainties like the current exorbitant energy rates. It is important to note that 75% of the 20 businessmen sampled were not against the development and use of renewable energy particularly if such measures will reduce their overhead energy expenses, if those measures provide a reliable source of energy and if it will improve efficiency.
To find out more about the efficiency of renewable energy, I carried out an interview with Ecologist Jonathan Porritt, a notable personality in promoting the use of renewable sources of energy. When asked what it will take for renewable energy to go mainstream, Jonathan Porritt answered that even though everybody knows the potentiality of renewable resources, obsolete rules and the favour of big companies that generate non-renewable sources of energy is still the main driver of policies, regulations, research and investment in the energy sector. He argued that the trend is very unfortunate because the need for supply despite effects has overtaken efficiency and the market is not very supportive of new entrants. Sound economic conservative principles are needed to ensure that all players in the energy industry get a level playing field.
This can only be achieved through the provision of permanent subsidies like the one fossil fuels and nuclear energy development enjoy. Jonathan Porritt also asserted that Congress has been messing with tax credits for the renewable energy industries, the resultant effect being that the industry is currently importing wind turbines. When asked about what he would do if elected the president, he maintained that most of the policies needed to drive the renewable sector should happen at the state level other than the federal level.
This is because an analysis of the federal policy on renewable resources of energy is fairly sufficient for the convenient development of renewable energy. Jonathan Porritt also said that despite the investments that should be done in this sector, energy-saving presents better opportunities than buying it. He said that if we could just do the right things in our homes or buildings then the capital cost of investments would be much lower than what is spent today.
In terms of supply, even though the percentage provided by non-renewable energy sources is still small, there is a gradual increase and it’s growing faster. Photovoltaics are adding greater capacity to the overall grid much more than even nuclear sources of energy. In closing, Jonathan Porritt concluded that it’s unnecessary and uneconomical to continue investing and relying on energy sources that worsen climate changes, increase oil dependence and promote the spread of nuclear weapons disguised as energy nuclear assistance. He said that these problems will just go away if we invest in energy that saves money and is environmentally friendly.
How the Energy Sources Work
Basically, there are five major renewable sources of energy; solar, wind, biomass, flowing water and heat from the earth. However, in this paper, I will only expeditiously discuss three sources.
This source of energy comes from the sun. The suns radiations can be converted into electricity by use of solar panels. Solar radiation is converted to thermal or electrical energy. Thermal energy is used n to heat water in homes, swimming pools or buildings. It can also be used to heat spaces, for instance, greenhouses or at home. Solar energy is converted into electricity by photovoltaic devices or by solar power plants. PV devices convert solar radiation directly into electrical energy. Usually, these devices are mostly used in locations not connected to the conventional electric grid. Solar Power plants indirectly generate electrical energy.
Solar thermal collectors heat a fluid to produce steam. It is this steam that powers the generators. Wind energy Climate changes and geography produce winds that blow across the earth’s landscape. Earlier on windmills were used to harness the energy of the wind but in the modern-day, highly sophisticated turbines are being employed in the generation of wind energy. These turbines are automatically designed to face the wind either through mechanical processes or through computer control programs that drive the system. Due to the differential pressure caused by air currents, the blades rotate, turning a rotor that drives an electrical generator.
Biomass includes all plant and organic matter found on the surface of the earth. The natural process of photosynthesis is always in constant production of new organic matter. Biomass energy is harnessed to make liquid fuels, heat and electricity. These sources of biomass energy include trees, food crops, woody plants, grass, and residues from agriculture or even forestry. Municipal and industrial organic wastes are also included in this category.
Further, fumes such as methane from landfills can also be used as a renewable biomass energy source. The most widely used forms of energy are heat, vehicle fuel, industrial fuel and electricity. For any form of renewable energy to be widely useful, it must then be converted to these forms. The table below is a summary of the form(s) provided by each energy source;
This presentation explains why a large proportion of people constitute the biomass energy consumption bracket. It is the second most used form of energy in the United States with up to 2 million users.
With growing concerns of climate change, global warming and exorbitant energy rates; people are turning to alternative sources of energy to offer solutions to these problems. Solar energy is a non-polluting source of energy hence helping in the alleviation of the problem of environmental pollution. Solar energy can be used anywhere in the world where there is no national electric grid. The photovoltaic cells are also very long-lasting.
The technology employed for the generation of energy is efficient and reliable and allows for small electric wind turbines to be installed for residential and commercial use.
Biomass can be converted to all three forms and therefore it can act as an effective replacement for the use of fossil fuels. It has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the amount of carbon dioxide released is 5ghe same as that of fossil fuels, biomass only releases carbon dioxide captured in the process of plant growth as opposed to new greenhouse gases released by fossil fuels. In the geopolitical map, biomass use can reduce heavy dependence on oil from foreign countries hence preventing the seemingly unending oil wars. This energy source also directly supports United States agricultural production and forest product industries that are the main feedstock for biomass energy production.
The amount or the intensity of sunlight that reaches the surface of the earth is not constant and it’s dependent on geographical location, time of the day, the time of the year and the varying weather conditions.
Another main disadvantage is that due to the variations in the intensity of sunlight, a very large surface area is needed to generate an Appreciable amount of energy at any time.
There are challenges in fully converting to wind energy for most of our energy needs. There are doubts that wind energy can provide an appropriate return on investment. The interconnection, distribution and transmission are still not in line with the available regulatory provisions. The unpredictability and variability of weather conditions have ensured that the energy produced largely vary and therefore cannot be used to effectively drive economic activities.
Investment in biomass energy is relatively expensive and it requires a broad regulatory framework to ensure that there is an adequate return on investment. Moreover, due to its expansive nature of operations, it is very difficult for individuals as opposed to the government and large companies to engage in the production of biomass energy especially biofuel, for example, biogas (methane) or ethanol.
Solar energy is a very viable option for the production of electricity at home or in offices for heat or light energy.
In areas where statistical analysis of the wind energy potential has been carried out using an efficient production and distribution system, the results of the economic viability tests are encouraging. The technology should therefore be encouraged with special preference to remote areas with high wind velocities.
The economic viability of biomass as an energy source lies in the adequate and mass production of the feedstock, for instance; forests and other plant materials. Unless this is done only through the use of biotechnological advances there is a threat to environmental sustainability as well.
There is an agreement on the development and continued use of a renewable source of energy, state and federal support is in line with a more individualistic approach in ensuring that people adopt renewable energy and energy-saving measures.
There is a need to allocate more technical and financial resources to the development of renewable energy sources in order to forestall an energy crisis in the future. There is a need for increased community sensitization to improve the adoption of energy-saving methods as this will reduce the overreliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy for their consumption needs.
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