Why renewable energy is the future

Battery storage, combined with solar PV panels and electric vehicles will improve the market for renewable energy

Why renewable energy is the future


nergy resources of the world have always shaped global policies, economics and businesses. Renewable energy is derived from natural sources replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. Fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — on the other hand, are non-renewable resources that take hundreds of millions of years to accumulate.

Use of renewable energy creates far lower emissions than burning fossil fuels. Transitioning from fossil fuels, which currently account for the lion’s share of emissions, to renewable energy is key to addressing the climate crisis. Renewables are now cheaper in most countries and generate three times more jobs than fossil fuels. The three main options for using renewable energy resources are the following:

On-Site Renewable Energy Generation: These include installing photovoltaic (PV) solar energy panels on a building or home, implementing a small residential wind turbine and using geothermal heat pumps or biomass-fuelled power and heat.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs): RECs can be used to purchase green energy power. People also refer to them as tradable renewable certificates, green tags or green energy certificates.

Green Marketing or Green Pricing Programmes: Participating in a green energy programme allows consumers to pay a small premium to an energy provider that uses local green power sources for power generation.

The industrial revolution and use of automobiles increased the consumption of energy resources at unsustainable rates. We can now use biomass energy for the generation of electricity, thermal energy and biofuels. Biogas, biodiesel and bio-ethanol, help reduce the demand for traditional gasoline products while also reducing the amount of transportation-related greenhouse gases emitted.

Ethanol is made from corn and sugarcane. Biodiesel is made from rapeseed, soy, jatropha and palm oil. Biomass feedstock becomes bio-based products, electric power, heat and liquid fuels, making it extremely versatile. Although burning biomass produces carbon dioxide emissions, plant regeneration consumes an equal amount of carbon dioxide, which we believe balances the atmosphere.

Since animals or plants can live virtually anywhere, bio-energy is a form of renewable energy that we can incorporate worldwide. Most biomass is used in rural areas for cooking, lighting and space heating, generally by poorer populations in developing countries.

Modern biomass systems include dedicated crops or trees, residues from agriculture and forestry and various organic waste streams. Energy created by burning biomass creates greenhouse gas emissions, but at lower levels than burning fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas. However, bio-energy should only be used in limited applications, given potential negative environmental impacts related to large-scale increases in forest and bio-energy plantations, and resulting deforestation and land-use change.

Biomass energy gives us two benefits: first, it requires almost no switching cost and second, the source of biomass is mostly agricultural waste. It requires some waiting time but overall the system helps improve energy efficiency of the farm and natural manure helps improve agriculture produce.

Artificial intelligence is opening new avenues in the energy sector. IT has been deployed for predictive asset maintenance in pilot projects.

The process of producing biomass energy is climate-friendly. Thus, biomass energy can help in on-site energy generation, produce renewable energy certificates and improve green pricing programmes. Increasing political challenges around fossil fuel and rising prices will make clean energy more attractive.

Artificial intelligence is opening new avenues in the energy sector. It has been deployed for predictive asset maintenance in pilot projects, according to a recent report from the World Economic Forum (WEF). Data collection and processing have been continuously improving.

Various deployments of AI could help accelerate the global energy transition by “optimising and efficiently integrating variable renewable energy resources into the power grid, supporting a proactive and autonomous electricity distribution system and opening up new revenue streams for demand-side flexibility,” the WEF report says.

Smart grids and blockchain technology have the potential to induce AI into the grid system and improve energy utilisation and generation. Development of electric cars will transform community/self-power generation trends. AI will likely fill the gap between power producers and power users, by utilising and improving connectivity and efficiency of the existing grid system.

With solar PV technology adoption, the need for battery storage has increased by leaps and bounds. In 2023 and beyond, both short- and long-duration battery storage technology will see improvement.

With power production through solar PV, storage in batteries has become indispensable.

Why renewable energy is the future

Advances in the AI have brought about innovations in battery storage that were inconceivable in the past. There are around 16.5 million EVs on the road; by 2050, the capacity is forecast to grow to 836 million. Battery storage offers the consumers the flexibility to save surplus power and charge their electric vehicles at a lower cost.

The current geopolitical and economic crises have caused significant disruptions in the fossil fuel markets. More countries will now invest in local energy generation, since it gives them energy security and reduce overall reliance on fluctuating global fossil fuel prices. Solar PV projects will likely become more attractive and are expected to surpass a terawatt of power generation in 2023. The price of solar power has been on a downward trajectory and has seen an 85 percent decline over the past decade.

In many countries compared to fossil fuel alternatives, solar is already competitive. Improved battery storage combined with solar PV panels and electric vehicles will likely further improve the market for renewable energy.

The writer is an environmental engineer and a visiting scientist at the University of Cambridge. He can be reached at Zarakbabar-santaclara @outlook.com

Why renewable energy is the future