Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What is the connection between renewable energy and climate change?

Many environmentalists agree that renewable energy is the best answer to climate change problem. Why is that? It is because bigger renewable energy usage decreases our dependence on fossil fuels, and the fewer fossil fuels we use (burn) means that fewer greenhouse gases end up in the atmosphere. The ever-increasing levels of greenhouse gases (most notably carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere are the main reason for ongoing climate change phenomenon.

Renewable energy sources like wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy are all environmentally friendly energy sources that do not emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions like this is the case with fossil fuel fired power plants.  The world, however, still heavily depends on "dirty" fossil fuels, even despite their extremely negative environmental impact. Why do we continue using something that is having such a devastating effect to our environment?

The answer is because we need energy. The global hunger for energy is huge, and gets bigger each year because more people need more energy, and the world population is constantly rising. The global economy was (and still is) built on using fossil fuels and this is the reason why oil, coal, and natural gas are often referred to as "traditional energy sources".

Tradition, of course, comes after many years of usage, and this is the missing part that renewable energy lacks. Renewable energy sector has only recently started developing and renewable energy technologies need to mature in order for renewables to become competitive with fossil fuels in terms of costs and efficiency. 

Greenhouse gases coming from fossil fuel fired power plants are major contributor to climate change.

The certain age of maturity that renewable energy will have to achieve before becoming fully competitive with fossil fuels is something that cannot be avoided. From the current point of view it is difficult to say how much time will renewable energy need to mature but we are talking about at least couple of decades, unless of course science comes up with some breakthrough discoveries that would make renewable energy technologies cheaper and lot more efficient.

Further renewable energy development heavily relies on science, and scientific researches. Scientific research and different science projects require large funds, and it is good to see that the world is ready to invest large amounts of money to be used for further development of renewable energy technologies.

So everything looks to be going well, well almost everything, because we still do not know the answer to one very important question, namely will climate change give us enough time to fully develop renewable energy technologies. The current climate change models and scientific predictions are everything but optimistic meaning that renewable energy revolution could be coming too late to stop the climate change.

Therefore, renewable energy development, despite the very positive growth in the last decade or so still needs to speed up things. After all climate change is a ticking bomb that could go off any time and lot sooner than we think it will.