Meta description: Learn how power is generated for an environmentally friendly and sustainable future. Green energy has limitations, which we discuss a potential way forward for.
Collecting Power For The Future
As it stands, 84% of the world energy production stems from fossil fuels. Not only are fossil fuels a finite resource, but global warming has become a very real threat to our ongoing existence on earth. There are many alternatives to fossil fuel energy, the chief among which is nuclear.
However, with ongoing backlash against nuclear, the largest proponent of which being fear, it can be difficult to justify the cost and time it takes to build a new nuclear power plant. This leaves us with a few options when it comes to powering the future.
There are a few key forms of renewable and low emission energy which we make use of today:
- Hydroelectric – Hydroelectric power stations at the current rate cater to roughly 7% of the world’s power needs.
- Wind – Wind currently caters to less than 2% of the world’s power supply.
- Solar – Roughly 2% of the world’s power usage comes from solar. This can be difficult to calculate to an exact figure as solar is becoming more popular in the private sector.
- Geothermal – Geothermal is a great option for power when it comes to price to set up. It is however quite limited in where it can be used, thus leads to geothermal providing less than 1% of the world power usage.
- Tidal – Tidal power stations currently cater to less than 1% of the world’s power usage. While it is a great form of power generation, it does suffer from the sheer area needed to be substantial.
Renewable energy comes in many forms, each with their own set of positive points and negative. All the renewable power sources mentioned above are valid and worth further investment to take strain off of our current fossil fuel.
All the currently used forms of renewable energy suffer from the same drawback, consistency. The sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, and rivers will run less through different seasons. Energy collection and storage will be key to our success in moving away from fossil fuels and towards a more environmentally conscious future. Hopefully in coming years there will be new battery technology to aid in this difficult process, but for the moment, there are two main ways in which we are already storing energy for load balancing.
- Hydroelectric – Possible one of the oldest forms of energy storage, yet one of the cheapest to implement at large scale while still having an impressive +70% efficiency. Hydroelectric power storage works by pumping water into an elevated dam when electricity production is high, like on a hot, sunny day with solar, and release said water into the hydroelectric power station as energy production from the original source slows down or stops. While 70% efficiency is not great, when the longevity of the plant is taken into account, it can justify the lower efficiency.
- Battery storage – Battery storage is by far the most efficient form of energy storage, with an incredible efficiency of over 90% efficiency for Lithium-ion storage solutions. This does come with its own set of problems though, the cost to set up a lithium-ion battery storage at the kind of scale that will be needed is huge. Not to mention the comparatively short life span of only 10 years. By far the most efficient, but likely not the ideal solution for the majority of the world.
These are currently the leading forms of large-scale energy storage, that isn’t to say that this may not change in the near future. Pumped thermal electricity storage is a promising avenue which compromises on efficiency but should be easily deployable and cost less than other alternatives.
Another avenue that is as exciting as online Blackjack is new battery technology, with great strides being taken in graphene battery technology to a point where it should be commercially available within the next 5 years, but cost may still be a large limiting factor.
Regardless of which avenue of energy storage is best suited to a particular situation, any potential renewable energy storage solution will be a large improvement over the fossil fuels we are still using today.