Green Energy Technologies – Towards Cleaner And Sustainable Energy Sources
Beginnings Of Green Energy Technologies:
Green energy technologies have been around for as long as humans have been on this Earth. Man has used the energy from the sun, wind, water and tides to power his various needs. But, the use of these was more or less restricted to activities that needed energy at low but sustained levels like growing crops, drying clothes, drawing water, navigating the seas and so on. But, this energy could not be used to power heavy machinery or run major heating and cooling systems that are the hallmark of the modern world. Huge power plants that use fossil fuels have fed our energy intensive activities and paved them for industrialization.
Green energy and related technologies started gaining a lot more attention when the world started feeling the pinch of rising oil prices during the first gulf war. Once the war ended and oil and gas prices fell the green energy projects were again put on the backburner. Green energy technologies were still in the nascent phase and the cost of production was too high to make it commercially profitable especially when compared with fossil fuels hence the neglect.
It is only recently that these renewable resources have again become the intense focus of attention of governments and policy makers. The reasons are not far to seek. Crude oil and gas reserves are dwindling fast and may not last long. In fact according to some estimates we will run out of these major fuels in about 60 years time. The second major reason for renewed interest in renewables is ill-effects of using fossil fuels. Pollution and global warming are the twin challenges facing us today. In fact this has made many parts of the globe uninhabitable for other species with which we share this beautiful planet. Many birds, animals and insects have been lost forever and several others are at the brink of extinction. With the use of green energy technology it is possible to stop the ill-effects of using polluting fossil fuels.
Advances In Green Energy Technologies
The return of interest and focus on cleaner energy resources fortunately coincided with the advances made in the field of green energy technologies. Today it is lot more efficient and cost-effective to produce energy from renewable resources for commericial uses than say 50 years ago. The world is now much better prepared to exploit these resources and harness it for our increasing energy needs. Between 2002 and 2008 alone over $96 billion US dollars were invested into green energy techonology companies. Investors and venture capitalists smelled opportunities to be at the forefront of a new revolution and poured in money.
Wind, sun and water are the major renewable energy sources that are powering our needs. Apart from this there are scores of other green energy technologies like energy from biomass, geo-thermal energy, ocean tides and ocean waves but these have still not reached huge scale of production.
Hydro Power: Dams And Reservoirs
Hydro-electric power projects have been supplying renewable energy for several decades now. The long gestational periods for project implementation and limited locations where this can be exploited without causing major environmental damage through building of dams and reservoirs have made it less popular. Still, the world generates over 20 percent of its energy needs using hydro-electricity. This green energy technology has been around for long and is very efficient and effective method of generating electricity.
Wind Power: Wind Mills
Currently, there is 197 GigaWatts of installed capacity for wind power generation. Wind contributes to 2.5 percent of the world’s electricity requirement. There is lot more potential to be exploited as far as wind power goes. The earth has enough wind energy to generate power that is 40 times the current world-wide energy consumption. Many countries like Denmark, Germany, Spain and Portugal generate a large percentage of their energy needs from wind. Many other countries have ambitious goals to make wind a major source of their electricity needs. Green energy technologies for wind are advancing everyday.
Solar Power: Solar Panels And Solar Heaters
Solar power is the most popular renewable energy technology. That’s because solar water heaters and electricity from solar panels can be generated right at home and people feel much more involved with this energy source. Solar water heaters have been major source of power savings in many countries of the world. China leads in solar hot water technologies and many urban areas of China have community solar heaters for supplying hot water. Solar panels installed on roofs and in open areas have been slowly but steadily increasing their contribution to energy requirements of the world. Large solar panels installations in deserts and other opens areas can make significant impact to solar power generation and it is fast catching up with wind power. Currently about 1.6 percent of energy needs of the world are met by solar energy technologies.
Apart, from the above bio fuels like ethanol supply a major portion of vehicles fuels needs in Brazil, bio-gas from animal and human waste is used as cooking fuel in many developing countries. Geo-thermal energy that makes uses of earth’s extremely hot core to generate electricity on the surface is another field that is attracting a lot of interest. There are hundreds of other technologies that make use of locally available materials to generate energy and power the needs of small communities or individual homes.
March Towards Towards Sustainable And Meaningful Green Energy Technologies
Scientists and researchers are aiming to meet most of our energy needs from the above renewable energy sources within the next 50 years. Policy makers and governments have also actively promoted a lot of initiatives and provided incentives and tax breaks in order to meet more of their energy needs through renewable resources and reduce their country’s dependance on fossil fuels. Thanks to these policies and investments in green energy technologies the world today is marching steadily towards a more sustainable and greener tomorrow.
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