I’ve been collecting information the past couple weeks about the scope of what energy experts believe is possible regarding converting to a clean energy future. I’d like to get a bit of a grasp on this rather than kind of shakily collect info by happenstance by seeing an article here, an article there.
The scope of inquiry includes gaining an understanding of the applicability of various renewable energy production technologies in various areas, learning about the financial incentives that are in place for the development of these technologies, and learning about how we can increase our efficiency such that we can rely more on renewable energy than fossil fuel.
My reading so far has been very interesting and encouraging. According to this illustration, in 2009 the United States lost 54.64% of the energy it generated due to inefficiencies. Presumably the figure in 2012 is not much different. ASME says that this inefficiency can be lessened by research, engineering and applying financial aid to the situation.
We have tended to consume about 28,000 TWh of energy yearly. Less than 10% of our energy is currently supplied from renewable energy production.
The Department of Energy figures that by 2030, 20% of our power can come from wind energy alone, the Union of Concerned Scientists says that around that date renewable energy can provide 40% of U.S. electricity needs, the International Energy Agency says that by 2062, solar power generators can produce most of the world’s electricity.
Converting from coal is very important. The importance of this is driven home to me not only by thinking about it in terms of emissions causing an undesirable greenhouse gas effect, but by immediate human impact. My state of Ohio has led the U.S. in increased autism birthrate. This is very sad because it is preventable–some autism is theorized to have been caused by mercury in the environment, which has been caused by the use of coal as an energy source. Ohio has been a huge coal producer.
Fracking proponents have been touting natural gas development as a safe alternative to coal, but this is not actually safe. The pipeline infrastructure for natural gas is leaky, letting methane escape into the atmosphere. Methane is worse than CO2 in terms what it might do as a greenhouse gas.
Also, fracking has problems in that it the liquid used for fracking is laced with chemicals that are harmful, and the wastewater is radioactive. Some of the wastewater has just been dumped into natural waterways. People have gotten cancer from the process of fracking.
It’s best to do things correctly as soon as we can so that we cause minimal harm, and that means investing and developing renewable energy sources and technologies and revamping our power transmission mechanism, manufacturing processes, HVAC and transportation systems to be more efficient.
By improving efficiency and converting to higher rates of renewable energy generation and lower rates of dirty energy generation, we can improve our figures such that we arrive at a clean energy, sustainable “present” much more quickly than 2062. We do not have to cause so much damage, and we can stop and reverse global warming, and there are many many chances and ways to do this, and we have the will, and we will. And it has been and will bring many more jobs to us.