Changing Gears for a New Era: Why We Need to Switch to Green Energy Sooner
Electric cars, Segway, hoverboards and reusable rockets, these are no longer science-fiction. They exist in our very own world and some can even be ordered online. Even before descending into the new decade, new technology is breaking barriers in almost all fields including energy. However, the sad side of the story is that we’re still heavily dependent on fossil fuels for the majority of our needs worldwide. The fact that 81% of the global energy utilization (in transport, heating, heavy industry and more) is based on fossil fuels.
Humankind uses nearly 35 billion barrels of crude oil each year and has already used up 40% of it. If that isn’t enough for you, get this – experts have predicted that at this rate we will use up all of crude oil in the next 50 years and all of coal in the next 100 years. The point here is not to alarm but to have a reality check. Basically, we have less than 100 years to switch to renewable sources of energy completely and we are still hung up on dinosaur remains.
Electricity indeed is the best replacement for fossil fuels. It’s not only better for the environment but more efficient in use as well. Compared to combustion engines which are only 40% efficient (at best!), electrical engines are almost 90% efficient. Still, merely 20% of energy demands are being catered by electricity globally. Electricity, of course, has its limitations. Electric engines depend on batteries which become heavier with the scale of the usage. That means, heavier machinery would require heavier batteries. Electricity generation and storage need to be reinvented for the growing need of our times. And then there’s the whole question surrounding its production. Most of the world’s electricity relies on coal and natural gas power plants which are not exactly eco-friendly.
While solar, wind, hydrogen, water and nuclear energy are abundant in themselves, humankind hasn’t shown much eagerness towards them when it comes to everyday energy needs. The lack of interest is understandable since the technology required to harness these sources is still not that accessible and/or affordable. Although renewable sources of energy seem apt alternatives to conventional fossil fuels, they’re still beaten out by the latter. To make it to the mainstream energy consumption market, renewable sources need to be significantly more affordable and accessible than fossil fuels for everyday use.
The idea of perpetual sources of energy may sometimes seem too good to be applied in real life but with a constantly deteriorating environment we have to look at them as needs and not merely as futuristic alternatives. It’s time that we start treating them as primary sources. But this consideration must come with robust and workable action plans. For the majority of the population, alternative energy sources like solar and wind power are still not a viable option since they come with high installation costs and are not easily available either. The lack of ample distributors and higher costs for alternative energy solutions comes around viciously as it demotivates potential buyers hence not helping the demand-supply cycle.
For an energy solution to be utilized on a large scale it should be affordable, sustainable and inclusive as well. To make it possible, experts will have to come up with more efficient technologies. The eventual transition from fossil fuels to green fuels would require a lot more than just technological growth. The shift would have to be global in scale and would require strategic vision and strong policies to support it.
Experts have predicted electricity to dominate future energy scenarios and the trend is already visible. But to be able to prevent the looming climate crisis, we need a carbon-neutral (if not carbon-negative) approach in all walks of life but especially in energy consumption. Humans have been living complacent lives denying the effects of climate change and it needs to stop now. We have not, after all, inherited this planet from our ancestors. We are, in fact, borrowing it from the coming generations.