The production of energy has always been essential to human development. The advances made at the time of the Industrial Revolution could not have occurred without the fossil fuels that we still use as our primary source of energy today. Oil and gas provide heat for homes and fuel for transportation, but these resources are finite. Current estimates are that the known deposits of fossil fuels will run out within the next hundred years.
This has given rise to a debate regarding the best way forward for energy production. Some argue that efforts have to be made to discover new reserves of fossil fuels. However, this would involve causing further environmental damage to an already heavily polluted planet. The opposing argument is that green energy is a safer, more reliable, and more sensible choice.
Green energy refers to any process whereby natural and renewable resources are utilized to produce power. Solar, wind, and tidal energy are common examples. In addition, advances have been made in adapting vehicles to run on biodiesel, which is created from recycled vegetable oil or animal fat. There is also a growing market for cars powered by electricity.
Green energy is cheap, environmentally friendly, and infinitely available, and yet it has not been universally accepted. The reason for this is a lack of belief that natural resources can generate the amount of energy that modern civilizations require. Proponents of this theory argue that fossil fuels and nuclear energy are the only truly viable means of energy production at our disposal. Nuclear plants, in particular, produce massive amounts of power, and this technology has been embraced by many countries around the world.
Nuclear energy does have its drawbacks, however. Nuclear facilities have to be very carefully controlled, and any accidents that occur can have devastating consequences, such as those seen at Chernobyl and Fukushima. When radioactive contaminants enter the atmosphere they can cause various forms of cancer, as well as deformities in unborn children. For many people, the risks associated with nuclear energy far outweigh the benefits derived from its production.
The question remains to be answered, therefore, of whether green energy can be the main energy provider to the countries of the world. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to the use of each form of energy production. What is undeniable is that plans have to be put in place immediately to supply the world with the power it needs in the long term.
Even if new deposits of fossil fuels are found, the resources are simply not sustainable. It could be argued that the time and money expended looking for more oil and gas would be more productively spent on developing the technology to harness natural resources more effectively. The current criticisms of green energy can be justified to a certain extent, as it fails to produce the same level of power as fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
This does appear to be changing, however. Solar panels are now much more technologically advanced than they were ten years ago, and work far more efficiently. Similarly, wind turbines are now better designed for maximum power production. Modern electric and hybrid cars are faster, with batteries that last longer, than earlier models.
With the continuing global demand for energy, it is essential to make use of all available resources. In time, however, it seems inevitable that finite resources will have to be replaced, and as a result green energy will be more widely used. This will force technology to advance to keep up with demand, which will result in greater efficiency and a dominant green energy industry.
Business energy specialists Haven Power
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- A 1-kilowatt home system will help prevent 170 lbs of coal being burned into the air 300 lbs of CO2 from being released and 105 gallons of water from being consumed each month” (Johnson 2012)