Last year’s devastating spill in Arkansas brings to light the problematic nature of oil. Undeniably detrimental to the environment, we continue to rely on this source for energy. NPR released a map of the 2.5 million-mile pipeline network that snakes across the United States; over half of these pipelines were constructed prior to 1970. In light of this antiquated system, it becomes all the more evident that it is time to move beyond oil. Realistically, it won’t happen overnight – I feel fairly certain that it will take a while for people to replace their cars for electric alternatives. But it is time to move in that direction. Below, take a look at a handful of renewable energy examples that could allow us to leave oil behind.
Fossil fuel energy sources are problematic for many reasons: their proliferation is undeniably detrimental to the environment – but there is another substantial issue. They won’t last forever. When we’ve exhausted fossil fuels, they’re gone forever. This is what makes renewable energy, and in particular, solar energy such an attractive option. Pollution-free and inexhaustible, it has the ability to provide us with clean power for the foreseeable future. We are constantly innovating new ways to utilize solar power. Scientists recently developed a way to print solar panels on anything. This opens the door to making solar energy an affordable option for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Consider a dam. You can see the sheer force that water produces – and by harnessing that power, we can create clean energy. Today, approximately 20% of the world’s energy comes from water. 80,000 dams are scattered across the United States, yet we only use 3% of them to generate power. When one thinks of the groundwork that is already laid, it feels essential that we utilize hydropower.
Remember when vegetable oil cars took over the news a few years ago? It was no passing trend. Biomass, comprised of plant and animal matter, provides a clean way to power up. Consider this: plants and animals get their energy from the sun. When this matter is burned, we can garner the byproducts. This method isn’t just reserved for quirky vehicles – it could be a tangible option for all facets of life.
Twenty stories tall with 200-foot long blades, wind turbines have the look of a strange, futuristic giant. But many scientists predict that this energy source could account for 1/3 of the globe’s power needs by 2050. When placed strategically, these turbines can produce massive amounts of clean energy. Wind energy is, however, variable – if there isn’t a strong enough breeze, then there won’t be any electricity produced.
Solar, wind, and biomass are all grouped together under the blanket term alternative energy. However, we need to step away from this term. Let’s make them mainstream – and in the process, move towards a cleaner, healthier planet.
Renewable Energy was last modified: September 23rd, 2017 by