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As a society, we must begin to live more cohesively with the earth and the environment. If the human race does not take notice and make changes rapidly, our natural resources will dissipate through attrition and lead to resource depletion. Whether one believes in global warming or not, one thing is sure, the earth can only provide a finite amount of resources and we are using those resources in an unsustainable manner. According to The International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2015 the world consumed 575 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu). By 2040, the IEA estimates that the world’s demand for energy will increase 28% to 736 quadrillion Btu. Fossil fuels have long been the dominating energy resource of the past century, but times are changing. Due to the environmental hazards of oil combustion, a paradigm shift is occurring and investment dollars are shifting toward supporting renewable energy substitutes.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, (UNEP), in 2017 the world added more solar power capacity than any other type of energy. The sector attracted $160.8 billion in investments, and renewable energy (including wind, hydro, and solar) accounted for 12% of the world’s energy use. Over the past year, global investment in renewable energy exceeded $200 billion. By 2040, the IEA estimates that renewable energy will comprise 40% of the energy usage, which means that the majority of energy (60%) will still be coming from unsustainable fossil fuels.
Investment in renewable energy is increasing, because as a collective we are realizing that fossil fuels are a limited and a quickly diminishing resource. The continued harvesting of fossil fuels is becoming increasingly more difficult and costly. Since most of the more easily obtainable sources of fossil fuels have already been excavated, companies are having to invest in increasingly expensive technologies to extract oil from more difficult locations (such as oil sands and underground fracking). Widely publicized photos, of environmental damages from fossil fuel extraction, are causing the public to recoil and support other methods of energy generation.
There are two main solutions to solve the ever growing need for energy 1) switching to renewable energy and 2) creating technologies that use energy more efficiently. Renewable energy is made up of many sub-sectors, such as wind, hydro, bio fuels, and solar. Each renewable technology has it pros and cons. Wind has proven to be the most efficient method of producing renewable energy, but the sporadic nature of wind makes the constant harvesting of energy very difficult. Like wind, most renewable energy technologies face similar sporadic energy harvesting issues. Solar energy facilities are limited to collecting energy during the day. To overcome this, we must implement a variety of renewable energy technologies, so that they complement each other during the duration’s of non-production.
The renewable technology sector is growing rapidly, and investment is following suite. Although we are making progress toward consuming more of our energy from renewable resources, IEA projects that fossil fuels will still account for 60% of the energy used in 2040. Do you have any ideas of how we can curtail the use of fossil fuels? The goal of this blog is to get people thinking about renewable energy, and to help create momentum around switching away from the use of fossil fuels. Comment below and share your thoughts!
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