Shaping the Future of Renewable Energy - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Shaping the Future of Renewable Energy

 Renewable energy projects offer a cleaner and greener world for local communities to live in, providing jobs, economic growth, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Explore the latest innovations in renewable energy technologies. From digitalized operations and smart grid integration to green hydrogen energy sources and unexplored water energy forms, this report covers an array of options.

1. Cleaner Air and Water

Reducing global warming means shifting towards renewable energy sources like solar, wind, water and geothermal - they do not require mining or drilling and don't produce planet-warming greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels are burned.

Humans have harnessed nature's power for millennia. Solar radiation has powered our homes and fields, dried our foods, powered boats across oceans and provided enough power for an entire year's needs of humans in an hour!

Demand for clean energy continues to surge while renewable technology evolves and costs decline rapidly, offering hope of an energy future which is both environmentally responsible and economically feasible in an increasing number of markets.

Wind and solar PV contributed nearly half of all new renewable electricity capacity additions worldwide in 2022 and will likely lead growth over the coming decade. Wind and solar PV deployment are growing quickly as Europe looks to meet its 2030 targets more quickly through wind/solar PV deployment compared with hydropower, biomass or geothermal power. Hydropower, biomass or geothermal will continue to experience substantial expansion.

Nonrenewable energy sources can harm our environment and threaten human health in various ways. Oil drilling destroys land, fracking pollutes water supplies, coal power plants pollute the air we breathe - biofuels may increase deforestation while also increasing greenhouse gas emissions if they're used improperly; but renewables offer a clean alternative with no such negative consequences for either humans or planet. That is why renewables should form the majority of our energy portfolio.

2. Better Health

Renewable energy technologies offer one solution to many health impacts associated with fossil fuels; they emit less pollutants and are more cost-effective. But simply replacing fossil fuels with renewables won't do; we must go further.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN, it is imperative that we make significant reductions in both energy demand and emissions. Particularly important is cutting fossil fuel use during electricity generation or end use applications.

Innovation will be required across multiple areas, from technology and business models, to policies. Governments can adapt investments, budgets, regulations, regular processes, intellectual property schemes, reimbursement principles and laws accordingly in order to foster innovation more efficiently.

Public education on the benefits of renewable energy is also essential to its acceptance and support. Innovative market designs must also take place to recognize renewables' flexibility and reliability while compensating grid services and facilitating trading activities for renewables.

Beyond solar and wind energy sources, other renewables include geothermal--which captures heat from Earth's core when it cools off--and biomass--including wood or food waste that decomposes into bioethanol or natural gas to power cars and airplanes.

 Hydroelectric plants use gravity's gravitational pull on water as it flows downhill to drive turbines that create electrical power; one carbon-intensive activity in our society that may soon use waste-derived fuels like rotting food waste, sewage overflow and household trash that react with catalytic chemicals--is air travel - one carbon intensive activity.

3. Economic Growth

Economic growth has brought hope and opportunities to millions, lifting them out of poverty. Yet inequality continues to rise while societies around the globe become less inclusive. Our research at the Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Centre shows that real improvements will only come about if economic development is inclusive, spreading benefits evenly amongst its beneficiaries.

As we transition beyond economic growth as an end in itself, and redefine it as a tool to advance better and more equitable lives, future investments must shift towards low polluting green sectors with circular practices such as oil and gas producers sitting on untapped or mined reserves need to consider how they might be reused to repurpose these assets into renewable energy infrastructure or lithium-ion battery storage solutions.

Attaining these goals requires governments to implement long-term policies with clear incentives, encourage investment, and provide a level playing field for renewables, like feed-in tariffs that offer fixed prices over their lifespans. Companies will also need to invest and collaborate in innovation essential for transition. Notable projects include Australia's Hornsdale Power Reserve with its largest lithium-ion battery installation and China's Three Gorges Dam which provide innovative solutions to overcome obstacles along this path.

Investors are taking note of this progress; CB Insights recently found that mentions of "renewable energy" have spiked during earnings call transcripts. Furthermore, major corporations are seizing this opportunity by investing in companies developing technologies to extract energy more efficiently and cost-effectively from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

4. Jobs

Renewable energy isn't just good for the environment; it also creates jobs. Renewables offer an ideal way to support local communities while giving you and your family secure employment with stable wages. Their rise has already opened up new employment opportunities in states that were once home to coal plants - particularly blue collar workers formerly associated with mining this fuel source. And as their costs decline further they will soon outshone fossil fuel plants - leaving no chance for coal powerhouses in future!

Globally, more than 12 million renewable energy jobs exist now. Solar photovoltaic (PV) dominates with over 4 million positions available; wind energy employs 2.5 million workers and hydropower provides 1.7 million. Additionally, geothermal, biofuels and ocean energy sectors also exist.

Two-thirds of renewable energy jobs worldwide can be found in Asia, with China leading as both a PV manufacturing hub and biofuel producer. Meanwhile, Europe and Brazil each hold 10% share while US and India each hold seven per cent.

Many countries are taking great strides toward building renewable energy jobs. Yet transition is far from effortless for everyone involved. Repercussions from COVID-19 crisis and trade disputes have further reinforced interest in localisation of supply chains as a strategy to both increase resilience to external shocks and encourage domestic value creation. Furthermore, many governments are adopting industrial policies designed to create renewables-related employment that is decently paid - this can provide opportunities to lift people out of poverty and meet 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targets.

5. Sustainable Communities

People all around the world wish for similar things - clean air, water and energy; economic opportunity and security; healthy environments; housing with lifelong learning capabilities; sense of community; and opportunities to make a difference. To meet these needs and protect natural resources we must live more sustainably in our towns and cities; sustainable communities aim to promote these values with an emphasis on environmental, economic and social sustainability along with urban infrastructure planning and social equity.

Communities which foster local involvement encourage all members of their population to assume a sense of ownership for creating a future that meets current and future needs, provide meaningful employment, respecting individual differences of age, gender, ethnicity, religion and physical ability as well as encourage fair civic engagement where residents are informed about decisions affecting them as well as having input into those decisions.

Communities are rapidly acknowledging the need for new approaches to sustainable planning and development. With cheap oil no longer readily available, manufacturing regions once thrived while climate change and water scarcity pose serious threats to local economies. Communities offer one effective means of uniting diverse interests towards genuine commitments towards sustainability development.

Scientists at NREL are taking an expansive approach to sustainable community development, developing innovative technologies that help local communities manage the interaction of human and ecological systems, while using innovative tools for environmental governance and stakeholder conflict resolution. Their work is essential in areas like water management, wildlife conservation and habitat fragmentation, land use change and global biodiversity loss.

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