What are the positive and negative impacts of renewable energy resource you chose?
Hydropower plants typically use the mechanical energy of water from rivers, streams, or reservoirs to rotate generator blades and produce energy. This allows zero emission power from a potentially unending “fuel” source. Additionally, pumped storage plants can take water from lower to higher elevations when excess flow is available and release it to generate electricity during times of higher electricity demand (M3 33). However, this comes at a cost, causing local environmental problems since the 1960’s, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency, (2015). The dams and plants required for hydropower can cause changes in the environment, specifically fish and wildlife, vegetation and erosion (M3 61). A lack of indigenous support in the Phillipines has not only lead to 30 people being killed defending their land and environment in 2018, (as well as 48 murders in 2017), but also disrupt the way of life of these same indigenous people who utilize the waterways for their basic living needs (Delina, 2020).
Can or cannot renewable energy replace fossil fuels?
I believe that it is possible to eventually replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources (and have written a few different papers on it over my degree), although admittedly some large barriers still remain. Norway currently boasts 97% carbon neutral power generation and are still pushing to achieve their remaining 3% (Carroll 2019). This transition involves overcoming technological, regulatory and political issues. Norway’s Energy Act of 1990 deregulated its electricity sector and developed the Nord Pool, which is the world’s largest market for electricity (Hansen 2013). Within the US, only almost 20% of the power generated is renewable energy (with 7% hydropower, 7% wind energy, 2% biomass, 2% solar energy and less than 1% geothermal), but separating electrical generation from political gain, putting funding into renewables for advances in energy storage and transitioning fossil fuel jobs into comparable renewable jobs make this a possibility (IEA, 2019).
How does renewable energy affect current power industry infrastructure?
Ideally, as new renewable energy gets adapted, the demand on the grid will decrease as efficiencies increase and some buildings will become self-sustaining. In the interim, however, the creation and maintenance of an updated distribution network to provides the safe and reliable delivery of power will require substantial infrastructure investment (M5 33). The costs of new construction and upgrades to the system (including but not limited to smart meters distribution networks that detect and prevent overloads) will continue to increase along with consumer demand (M5 34).
What help, if any, should governments give to help the establishment of renewable energy production?
Beginning a focus on a renewable power transition is beneficial to the establishment in both economic and ecological ways. The application of a carbon avoidance costs has already shown large upgrades and additions to current fossil fuel flue gas lines or pulled more money in from these establishments. Renewables would not only decrease the consumer cost per energy when compared to carbon avoidance costs, but also plays a direct role in minimizing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. Funding for renewable research and training for renewable jobs transitions would feed into electrical corporations financial balancing act of building new renewable power plants versus the expenses of fossil fuels and the subsequent carbon emission costs.
Will the Clean Power Plan Survive? Why or why not?
It is hard to believe that the Clean Power Plan will survive, although much of my work in furthering my education comes at the hope that I can be part of it succeeding. The Clean Power Plan (Links to an external site.) of 2015 set limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants, attempting to curb the impacts of climate change around the world (NRDC 2017). It says that limiting carbon pollution from power plants is “the single-biggest step we can take to fight” climate change (NRDC, 2017). However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that, with current operations, even expecting perfect execution going forward, the goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius is out of reach, and the 1.5-degree target that scientists say must be achieved to save the earth’s coral reefs is farther still (Poneman, 2019). I personally have seen the effects of the U.S. “clean coal” technologies, removing mercury and acid gasses from the flue gas with activated carbon and hydrated lime or pretreating the coal to decrease the chance of those same toxins escaping (M3 55). However, unless the aforementioned political and training changes are fulfilled, it seems unlikely that the IPCC prediction will change
Carroll, M. (2019, June 27). Norway’s leading the charge on a sustainable electric future. Retrieved from nationalgeographic.com: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/partner-content-sustainable-electric-future/ (Links to an external site.)
Delina, L. (2020). Indigenous environmental defenders and the legacy of Macli-ing Dulag: Anti-dam dissent, assassinations, and protests in the making of Philippine energyscape. Energy Research & Social Science. Volume 65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101463
Hansen, Gard. (2013). New renewable energy and the Norwegian policy triangle. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281554074_New_renewable_energy_and_the_Norwegian_policy_triangle (Links to an external site.)
IEA. (2019). Data and Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics?country=NORWAY&fuel=Energy%20supply&indicator=Electricity%20generation%20by%20source (Links to an external site.)
Norwegian Environment Agency, (2015, November 11). Norway. https://www.environment.no/Topics/Norway (Links to an external site.)
NRDC. (2017). What Is the Clean Power Plan? Retrieved from: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-clean-power-plan-works-and-why-it-matters (Links to an external site.)
Poneman, D. (2019, May). We can’t solve climate change without nuclear power. Scientific American. Retrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/we-cant-solve-climate-change-without-nuclear-power/
Smith, B. (2015, July 23). Norway: Environmental Issues, Policies and Clean Technology. How Clean is your Country? https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=558
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