Green Energy and Sustainable Development

green energy

Green Energy and Sustainable Development

Green energy refers to energy sources that have low or zero emissions and pollution, as well as being renewable. This type of energy can be produced through solar, wind and geothermal technologies.

It can also be generated using hydropower, where dams create a large amount of energy by directing water through turbines connected to electricity generators. Renewables are often more affordable than conventional fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy is power generated from resources that are naturally replenished, such as sunlight, wind and biomass (organic matter burned as fuel). They can be used to produce electricity, as well as for space and water heating and cooling. Renewables offer the potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are contributing to global climate change.

Renewables can be produced at many different scales, from rooftop solar panels on homes to large offshore wind farms. They can also be combined with other forms of green energy, like electric vehicle charging stations, to create a more fully integrated, sustainable energy system.

Fossil fuels such as coal and oil are non-renewable and take hundreds of millions of years to form. When these fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity, they release harmful carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere. Using less fossil fuels and more renewables is essential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and promoting environmental health.

Everyone can contribute to a more renewable energy future by advocating for greener policies and by making green choices at home and in businesses. For example, some utilities offer customers the option to choose 100% green energy. If your utility doesn’t yet offer this option, you can purchase green electricity through a certified renewable energy provider. The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) offers funding to support renewable energy research and development, siting of renewable projects and community-led energy projects.

Biofuels and Renewable Electricity for Transportation

Renewable biofuels can be used to replace fossil fuels in transportation. These alternative energy sources are more environmentally-friendly than gasoline, diesel or jet fuels and produce Clean new energy photovoltaic solar energy lower levels of air pollutants. This makes them an important part of green energy and sustainable development. Biofuels can also reduce dependence on foreign oil sources.

Ethanol and biodiesel made from corn, sugarcane or soybeans are currently the most popular types of biofuels. However, research is being conducted on second generation biofuels that use non-food feedstocks such as algae, perennial grasses, municipal waste or biomass residues to create advanced cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, methanol, hydrocarbon and biocrude. These advanced biofuels are expected to have an even greater impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions than first generation biofuels.

In addition, renewable electricity from wind and solar power can be used to replace traditional transport fuels such as coal or petroleum. Electricity is a key component in the decarbonization of all modes of transportation including passenger cars, rail, shipping and aviation. The use of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles can help achieve these goals.

Renewables also provide a more stable energy source that can protect us from geopolitical instability and price spikes. Many renewable energy resources are produced locally, making them less susceptible to supply chain disruptions and other market forces that can drive up prices.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency—using less energy to provide the same service—is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, cleans the air, and saves money for households, businesses and public institutions including schools and hospitals. Energy efficiency programs can improve the energy efficiency of lighting, appliances, homes, buildings, factories and transportation systems by replacing old inefficient equipment with newer, efficient technology.

For example, replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can reduce up-front costs by lowering the amount of electricity needed to produce the same amount of marine light. In buildings, efficiency improvements such as installing insulation or ensuring windows are properly sealed can reduce up-front costs by reducing heating and cooling needs. Industrial energy efficiency programs can increase productivity by reducing power-use and improving production processes.

In addition, energy efficiency can reduce demand by reducing peak load and freeing up capacity for renewables and other sources during times of high power use. Energy efficiency also helps reduce the overall size of the energy system by reducing transmission and distribution requirements.

However, despite these benefits, efficiency programs often fall short of their energy savings targets. Research on hidden costs and consumer behavior can help explain the gap and guide policymakers as they design policies to close it. Energy efficiency programs are only effective at slashing our carbon footprint and electricity bills if they’re accessible to all New England families and businesses, including those in low-income communities.

Energy Storage

Energy storage is a critical component of green energy. It allows solar and wind power to be utilized at times when it is not being generated, such as when the sun is down or the wind has stopped blowing.

Battery based energy storage (ESS) is the most common form of energy storage, accounting for nearly 28 gigawatts of total capacity globally at the end of 2022. These facilities are typically used for hourly, daily balancing and are paired or co-located with solar or wind projects. Technology that can store renewable energy for longer durations is being developed, and this will allow greater integration of renewables during peak electricity demand periods.

ESS is valued for its ability to respond rapidly to changes in electricity demand, providing frequency regulation and operating reserve services. It can also help prevent or minimize the risk of blackouts by providing backup power to homes, businesses, and communities.

Fossil fuels like coal and gasoline store ancient energy absorbed by living organisms that died, became buried, and over time were converted into these fossil fuels. Renewables like solar and wind, on the other hand, store the energy of sunlight that was absorbed by photosynthesis. Energy storage technologies can improve the efficiency of these newer sources by enabling them to deliver electricity at exactly the moment it is needed.

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