Environment

Renewable Energy and Our Future

Solar Panel renewable energy

The future looks brighter and cleaner as renewable energy picks up speed

Since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in April 2016, the world has been moving a lot more in the direction of renewable energy. The aim is to reduce how much we use fossil fuels and to find better ways of generating power without harming the environment. With the vast majority of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) onboard, the Paris Agreement sends a clear message: Renewable, clean energy is the future.

Because the Paris Agreement is a voluntary agreement and, because each country sets its own targets for how it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, it would be easy to imagine some countries failing to make big changes. That doesn’t look like the case, however, as China and India blaze ahead with plans to dive wholeheartedly in, though with seemingly different motivations.

China and India: Leading the Way

China’s association with clean energy is prudent¬†if possibly surprising for some. The nation has had many issues with air pollution, but has, in recent years, become a leader in the production of renewable energy. However, China has reportedly canceled plans to build over 100 coal-based power plants and is moving towards a solar-power initiative. The thinking is here is not only that China can reduce its air pollution, it can also capitalize on an emerging economic juggernaut. As countries around the world have agreed to utilize more renewable sources of energy, it stands to reason that any country at the forefront of relevant technology will be in prime position for a lot of international trade. This is on top of the millions of jobs that China stands to create inside its borders as it continues to create more and more solar farms. China has been the largest installer of solar panels since 2013 and is home to the world’s largest floating solar power plant, atop what used to be a coal mine.As China expands its use of solar panels, the technology should improve, while becoming less expensive to produce and, undeniably a smarter source of power worldwide.

Just one of many solar panel fields to be increasingly found in China.

Just one of many solar panel fields to be increasingly found in China.

As countries around the world have agreed to utilize more renewable sources of energy, it stands to reason that any country at the forefront of relevant technology will be in prime position for a lot of international trade. This is on top of the millions of jobs that China stands to create inside its borders as it continues to create more and more solar farms. China has been the largest installer of solar panels since 2013 and is home to the world’s largest floating solar power plant, atop what used to be a coal mine. As China expands its use of solar panels, the technology should improve, while becoming less expensive to produce and, undeniably a smarter source of power worldwide.

For India, solar energy is not just environmentally sound, nor good business, it may be vital for the country’s development. In an effort to promote solar energy, the Indian government has introduced policies to reduce the costs of using solar panels, while investing heavily in building solar plants. Freeing India from reliance on fossil fuels should allow greater access to power around the country. This means that more people will have access to electricity and can enjoy a better quality of life and a cleaner, healthier environment.

Solar panels providing vital electricity in rural India.

Solar panels providing vital electricity in rural India.

Together, India and China account for approximately 20% of the world’s energy use, and 39% of investment into new energy technology. What’s more, China is one of the most powerful economic leaders of the globe. Together, these countries may be able to steer the planet towards a cleaner future.

The Possibilities of Renewable Energy

Of course, solar power isn’t the only option for renewable energy sources. Wind farms, geothermal energy plants, and hydroelectric dams are all viable power sources, which only stand to improve as more time and money are invested in their development. More recently, a development found that electrical energy could be produced using the movement of salt through water. Effectively, as saltwater meets freshwater, the salt “needs” to spread out equally. If the saltwater and freshwater are separated by a barrier, the force of the salt can create an intense pressure which could, in turn, be used to push turbines and generate power. It is speculated that using this discovery, in conjunction with an existing form of energy production called capacitive mixing, could one day produce as much as 40% of the world’s power, according to Christopher Gorski.

Saltwater meets freshwater as the Mississippi touches the Gulf of Mexico.

Saltwater meets freshwater as the Mississippi touches the Gulf of Mexico.

Renewable energy continues to grow worldwide, as National Geographic reports the USA has reached an all-time high in its use of wind and solar energy. There really is little telling how far this technology will take us, but it’s certainly good to see we’re moving in the right direction.

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