Future of Energy: What does the future of our power look like and where will it come from? The decision is not straightforward, and there are several factors to consider in making the best choice. Is there a perfect solution? You may have heard of terms such as green energy, carbon neutrality, net-zero emissions, and reducing greenhouse gases, which are crucial concepts in today’s energy discourse. Is it possible to find a source that meets these criteria? Furthermore, the energy we need for the future must be cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally sustainable. It’s a tall ask, but let’s examine some solutions to see if any of them meet these requirements.
Shifting from coal to renewable sources of energy
Coal has been and remains the primary source of power for many countries, despite the negative environmental impacts of its extraction through extensive mines and the long-lasting effects it has on the land. Additionally, its combustion produces substantial carbon emissions, making it an unsustainable energy solution for the future. Its widespread use is mainly due to its abundant availability, which makes it a cost-effective solution, but the toll it takes on the environment is too high. This is why it is important to reiterate why we have to transition away from coal and towards greener and more sustainable energy alternatives.
Types of renewable energy
Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydropower, offer clean and sustainable solutions to meet our energy needs. They are considered “green” because they harness the power of natural forces without the need for environmentally harmful extraction processes. While there may be initial costs and materials required for installation, renewable energy has the potential to be more cost-effective in the long run. However, some renewable sources, such as solar and wind, may face limitations in availability due to weather conditions. On the other hand, hydropower is more consistent but its availability is limited by the presence of suitable water sources and terrain.
The future and our responsibility
The growth of the global population and the increasing demand for energy requires a responsible expansion of our power supply. Finding the right energy source for the future energy grid is a complex challenge that requires a careful balance between different options. Renewable and nuclear energy sources are likely to be the best options to achieve this balance.
Improving energy efficiency
For renewables to succeed, more needs to be done to improve energy efficiency and reliability. Energy storage solutions such as batteries should be explored to expand the potential for renewable energy adoption across a wider range of locations. For nuclear energy, research on the management and storage of nuclear waste should continue. Advanced research and technology hold the potential to recycle used nuclear fuel and use it in breeder reactors.
In pursuit of a sustainable energy future, it is imperative that we consider the environmental impact of our choices. This can be achieved through thorough assessments, strategic planning, and responsible implementation. Engaging in open dialogue and educating ourselves about the advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources and their effects on the environment and communities is crucial for making informed, responsible decisions about our power supply.
The author is based in Canada and is an authorized Nuclear Operator and owns a sustainable energy firm.
(Views expressed above, solely belong to the author)