Renewable energy is the way foward
Solar, wind, and geothermal energy biofuels and biomass have taken an increasingly prominent role in powering nations such as the UK. As long as we upscale our use of them, the net-zero target will be in reach.
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Increased use of renewable energy sources is weaning the world off of fossil fuels, and the results are promising. In 2019, the UK generated more electricity from renewables than fossil fuels for the first time in over 200 years. And since 2015, Scotland has utilised renewables as their primary power source. On a larger scale, as of 2019, renewable energy accounted for a third of global power capacity, and this is projected to rise to half by 2035. This can be attributed to various different types of power. Wind energy has seen an upsurge of use in recent years, with China increasing capacity by 20w and the USA by 7w, with additional expansions by Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the UK. Solar energy has continued to see wide use, particularly in Asia, with increases from many different continents. Meanwhile, Hydropower remains the most used renewable power source accounting for 54% of renewable energy. Of course, strong planning for the future is vital. Kadri Simson, the European commissioner for energy, has already set out vital plans to ensure Europe will become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. This will be achieved in part by a shift away from coal power, which has historically been at the centre of European industry. Yet, the EU aims to manage this with a package of incentives and subsidies to governments, which will help them transition to green energy. This will set a precedent for other continents. Already, global use of renewables is increasing steadily by the year, as they become the only power source with longevity and sustainability.
Renewable energies are a good supplement to coal, oil, and gas. But it’s hard to imagine they will be able to independently power the world in their current state. Intermittency is a commonly cited shortcoming. All energy is dependent on the availability of its resource, and renewables are no different. Though the sun or wind are unlikely to run out, the energy generated from solar panels or wind turbines is only as dependable as the weather. Without contingency measures, we would risk mass blackouts, as a lot of the world is run on power-hungry grids. If the central issue is our energy consumption, then this won’t be solved by renewables either, at least not in the short term. Then there’s the cost. Though solar, wind, and hydro energy sources do not have extraction costs, there is an initial high setup cost. Energy can be stored in order to provide stability to the grid, but this is currently more costly than just producing it regularly, not to mention inefficient. Unhelpfully, they also cause problems for the environment. They take up a lot of space wherever they are, and this land needs to be negotiated, which can increase the cost of or delay projects. There’s also the carbon footprint of producing renewable energy technology. Then again, you only need to look at our dependence on fossil fuels to see that a future of purely renewable energy is farfetched.
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