By Mohsen Ahmed Farhan Ali – Drilling Department Head – General Petroleum Company (GPC) – Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) Consultant
The use of traditional energy sources awaits new restrictions through environmental legislation to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.
During the last few years, there has been a significant increase in environmental pollution, especially air pollution due to heat emissions resulting from conventional hydrocarbon fuel usage. This will lead to an increase in global temperatures, which will prove catastrophic in many areas worldwide and cause rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar icecaps. Therefore, the UN Climate Change Conference paid great attention to the issue, studying the specific causes of global warming. Most studies pointed to hydrocarbon fuel combustion as the main factor behind carbon emissions and global warming.
Consequently, the final recommendations came to reduce the consumption of those types of hydrocarbon fuels that have a negative impact on the environment or to search for alternative energy sources that are more environmentally responsible.
The scientists have developed new types and sources of energy, studying their feasibility, challenges, and economic potential to be a good, safe, and cost-effective alternative for traditional energy sources. As a result, new concepts and terms came about to describe these new innovative energy sources like “clean energy”, “green energy”, and “renewable energy”.
Clean energy, such as solar energy and wind energy, is that which strictly comes from renewable, zero emission sources and does not cause atmospheric pollution when used. It also serves to conserve energy through efficiency measures. While clean energy resources also preserve the world’s natural resources, they also prevent environmental catastrophes, such as natural gas leaks or fuel spills. As a matter of fact, clean energy is useful for a variety of different applications, such as the generation of electricity.
The future of green energy looks bright, with recent years showing more prominence to clean renewable energy capacity on a global scale than new hydrocarbon fuel and nuclear capacity combined. Now, more than one-third of globally installed power capacity comes from renewable sources. As the world population continues to grow, there is an ever-increasing demand for energy and unsustainable energy sources will not be sufficient to meet future energy needs. Therefore, renewable energy sources are the answer to providing sustainable energy solutions, while also protecting the planet from climate change.
Green energy is generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, wind or water. It is often produced from renewable energy sources. The key item with these energy resources is that they do not affect the environment negatively by releasing greenhouse gases or harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Usually, green energy sources are naturally renewed, as opposed to fossil/hydrocarbon fuel sources like oil/gas or coal, which may need millions of years to generate again. Green sources also often do not need high-risk mining or drilling operations, which could have significant environmental consequences. Green energy is mainly generated from renewable energy resources in a variety of different ways, whether through solar energy using solar cells or using wind turbines to generate energy.
The six most common sources of clean energy are: (1) Solar energy which is a common renewable source for green energy source produced using photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. (2) Hydropower (hydroelectric power) uses the flow of water in rivers, streams, or dams to produce energy, including tidal energy. (3) Wind energy uses the power of the flow of air or wind speed to push turbines that then generate electricity. (4) Geothermal Energy uses thermal energy under the earth’s crust but the disadvantage is that it requires drilling deep into the crust which could entail severe environmental consequences. (5) Biomass energy is the use of any extra biomass for energy generation, including wood waste, sawdust, and combustible organic agricultural waste. (6) Biofuels energy involves the conversion of organic materials into fuel, such as ethanol and biodiesel through biochemical processing.
This classification may change as green energy production technologies continue to evolve. These green energy sources are the effective alternative and direct reverse of the depleted hydrocarbon fuels that have powered us for over a century but with high heat and carbon emission. Generating clean energy with zero-carbon emissions is a great vision for a more environmentally friendly future.
Green energy benefits the environment as it replaces the negative impact of hydrocarbon fuel with more environmentally responsible alternatives that come from cleaner sources. Green energy does not involve harmful emissions and is often readily available. It can also maintain the stability of energy prices as it is all about generating energy from the local environment and, therefore, it has immunity from geopolitical crises or global oil market fluctuations. Green energy projects have economic benefits which include job creation especially when the proper infrastructure is being built. Generally, more than 10 million jobs have been created worldwide in this industry in 2018, with expectations that it will grow as green energy projects expand.
Moreover, green energy represents a low-cost source for the energy needs of many areas around the world. Its applicability will be enhanced as costs continue to go down, further increasing the viability of green energy, especially in developing countries. Green energy has the capacity and possibility to replace fossil or hydrocarbon fuels in the future; however, it may require producing from several sources by different means to achieve that. Evaluating the economic feasibility of green energy requires an exhaustive comparison with traditional hydrocarbon fuels. With the depletion of hydrocarbon/fossil fuel resources, energy costs will increase as supply goes down and scarcity increases. The efficiency of green energy may depend on the location of the project, as some areas have stronger wind currents or a better environment for solar energy.
New legislations have been developed for environmental protection and to support green energy projects and on the other side, encourage the reduction of hydrocarbon fuel consumption to cut carbon emissions. Currently, some countries do not deal with nuclear energy as a clean energy source because of the serious risks associated with it. The 2011 earthquake in Japan, for example, led to a serious nuclear radiation leakage.
The fact is that fossil fuels need to become old-fashioned, as they do not provide a sustainable solution to our energy needs. By developing several green energy solutions, we can find a good sustainable future for our energy supply, without damaging the planet we all live on.
Clean energy appears to be the future for humanity’s energy needs worldwide as dependence on fossil/hydrocarbon fuels goes down. As directing towards clean, green, and renewable energy continues to increase, the cost will fall and several projects will be set-up to develop these new power plants.
Every day people around the world are realizing the environmental, economic, and developmental benefits of clean energy. Many countries are joining the effort to create a greener world and with dedication, this will continue to advance.