Greener Energy Systems: Energy Production Technologies with Minimum Environmental Impact
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Multinational corporations should pay attention to environmental tax policy because in the past two years there has been a particularly strong increase in corporate internal carbon pricing initiatives in China, Japan, Mexico, and the U. New digital technologies could replace a majority of jobs and necessitate very high consumptions of electric energy—currently produced with coal and fossil fuels with adverse environmental effects.
According to the study The Carbon Footprint of Bitcoin , from Technical University of Munich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cryptocurrency mining alone generates about 22 megatons in CO2 emissions each year. Society is now entering what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is witnessing the implementation of several emerging technologies worldwide, including:. With global energy demands continually increasing, pushing CO2 emission to its highest levels in history, methods of generating large quantities of clean energy have become a survival concern.
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Among other important options, solar power satellite SPS systems remains one of the most-promising, but as yet largely undeveloped options to accomplish this goal, as explained in New Developments in Space Solar Power , by John C. There are two potentially viable options: laser and microwave beams. According to a NRL research report , SPS offers one of several possible solutions to the energy independence and dominance of the U.
Another hurdle for space solar includes the lack of an existing regulatory framework for wireless power transmission, particularly for microwave. The International Academy of Astronautics completed the First International Assessment of SPS during , involving diverse subject matter experts from 10 countries, and concluded SPS is technically feasible and might be realized in as little as years. While SPS is yet to electrify terrestrial grids, ground-based solar energy has been making an important contribution to the future energy mix.
Starting in the s, Japanese manufacturers began incorporating solar PV cells into electronic applications in various areas. Up until , the U. Worldwide growth of solar PV has been close to exponential since , increasing manufacturing scale, and making solar energy more reliable and cost-efficient than virtually all other energy sources.
Renewables now cover one-third of the power mix in Europe, one-fourth in China, and one-sixth in the U. For example, utility-scale solar farms in India generate solar energy for 3 to 4 cents a watt. Environmental tax is used as an economic instrument to address environmental problems by taxing activities that burden the environment direct carbon tax , or by providing incentives to lessen environmental burdens and preserve the environmental activities tax credits, subsidies.
Phebe Asantewaa Owusu
It is used as part of a market-based climate policy that was pioneered in the U. Environmental taxes are designed to internalize environmental costs and provide economic incentives for people and businesses to promote ecologically sustainable activities such as reducing CO2 emissions, promoting green growth, and fighting climate change via innovation. Some governments make use of them to integrate climate and environmental costs into prices to reduce excessive emissions, while raising revenue to fund vital government services.
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Under a carbon tax regime, the government sets a price that emitters must pay for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions they emit so that businesses and consumers will take necessary steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax. These taxes are favored because assigning a fee to CO2 pollution is administratively simple compared to addressing climate change by setting, monitoring, and enforcing caps on greenhouse gas emissions and regulating emissions of the energy-generation sector.
Environmental taxes include energy taxes, transport taxes, pollution taxes, and resources taxes. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD , greater reliance on environmental taxation is needed to strengthen global efforts to tackle the principal source of both greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Coal, characterized by high levels of harmful emissions and accounting for almost half of carbon emissions from energy use in the 42 countries, is taxed at the lowest rates or goes untaxed.
Carbon taxes have been implemented in 29 jurisdictions out of that have signed on to Paris Agreement. A Scandinavian wave starting in the early s saw carbon taxes legislated in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, among other countries. Through tax credits, subsidies, and other business incentives, governments can encourage companies to engage in behaviors and develop technologies that can reduce CO2 emissions.
Just as tax credits for fossil fuel energy sources have enabled growth and development, the renewable energy tax credits are incentives for development and deployment of renewable energy technologies. These credits could combat the use of fossil fuels. For example, a new study by the Overseas Development Institute, G20 coal subsidies: tracking government support to a fading industry , suggests that coal subsidies have increased threefold since the Paris Agreement, even though it commits its signatories to hold global warming to well below two degrees Celsius through significant greenhouse emission cuts.
According to the IMF, as well as the International Energy Agency IEA , the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies worldwide would be one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gases and battling global warming. The following is an overview of their environmental tax, digital technology, and solar energy policies. It is number two in the consumption of oil products, and number three in natural gas consumption. Fossil subsidies are used as a tool to influence the energy mix and energy prices in China as well as in coal-fueled electricity plants across Belt and Road initiative BRI countries where China is making loans and investments.
5 Feasible Renewable Energy Sources
It involves the pursuit of innovation-driven development and cooperation with the partner countries in frontier areas—such as the digital economy and artificial intelligence—to create a space-based digital silk road of the 21st century. Chinese President Xi Jinping has publicly endorsed cross-border blockchain technology and included it as part of state-level policy. Here are 5 feasible renewable energy sources that could be developed to help meet world energy needs:.
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Solar : This is perhaps the most recognized renewable energy source. Energy from the sun is captured using cells made from special materials silicon is quite popular right now and then converted into electricity. The biggest factor in solar cell production is cost. However, with technological advancements solar is becoming more cost efficient, and high efficiency solar cells are being developed.
This is important, since high efficiency cells are hard to come by. New materials are providing solar cells that are easier to transport and install. Flexible solar cells can be used for residential use, and building solar arrays is becoming popular. One of the main factors in efficiency is the fact that solar panels only generate electricity during daylight hours, and can be hampered by cloudy conditions or pollution. Some sort of storage is needed in order to make full use of solar power.
However, there are environmental impacts associated with building arrays, since they take up a great deal of room which is why deserts are being considered -- but still ecological impacts are a reality. In some areas, power companies are toying with the idea of renting rooftops and installing solar panels. This way companies could generate renewable energy that would be theirs, customers could see their costs decrease, and homeowners would not have to pay for installation.
Warehouses would be targeted in larger areas. These types of projects could help overcoming the cost-efficiency hurdle, while reducing the environmental impact of large solar installations.
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Wind : Wind power is growing rapidly, and is becoming a well-recognized renewable energy resource. Using wind power to turn turbines that generate electricity can provide a cheap source of energy. Building and maintaining equipment could provide thousands of jobs and cost-efficient and clean electricity.
Wind farms, however, are not particularly popular. They can impact local environment and wildlife, and even provide noise pollution. Additionally, many people feel that the equipment used obstructs scenic views. It is possible, however, to construct wind turbines in various sizes. They can be made for single residential use, and they can be constructed on a large scale as well. Wind power could be used in areas where there is a great deal of wind, and a lot of open spaces.
Technology is making this mode of renewable energy more efficient and less intrusive, but many still feel that there is a long way to go with wind power. Geothermal : Geothermal energy is extracted from the natural processes of the earth. A great deal of heat is created below Earth's surface, and efforts are being made to extract and use this power. While the ancient Romans knew about and used geothermal heating, now Earth's processes are being used to generate electricity -- going beyond space heating. Geothermal power does not put off greenhouse gases although some harmful gases from deep in the earth would be released -- and need to be contained , and it is reliable.
However, it can only be used in areas where there is tectonic activity. Unfortunately, drilling is involved with geothermal extraction. Additionally, exploration is rather expensive. The costs of starting a geothermal plant are quite high at the outset, including the piping that would need to be laid and all the other costs, although a geothermal operation takes up less surface space than a power plant that uses coal or oil. Fuel is not necessary for a geothermal plant at all.
However, once a successful geothermal plant is established, the long-term cost-efficiency usually makes up for the initial cost outlay. Water : We have been studying water-based renewable energy for quite some time. Hydroelectricity has been a source of energy for years. However, even though the energy production process does not put off pollution, there are other environmental concerns associated with the damming of rivers and ecological impacts stemming from this practice. But hydroelectric power remains one of the more cost-efficient means of generating renewable energy.
Other water sources are being considered as well. Tidal power is being developed right now as an energy alternative. Tidal generators placed underwater work in a similar fashion to wind turbines, only they are turned by currents. While considered environmentally friendly, tidal power will be difficult and expensive to develop, since it involves placing generators at the bottom of the ocean. These "underwater wind farms" are also likely to have impacts on sea life. Nuclear : Perhaps the most controversial form of renewable energy is nuclear energy.
Electricity is produced from the energy released by nuclear reactions. While fission splitting is the main source used today, interest continues in developing cold fusion. Currently, though, power plants generating power using nuclear fission are among the safest plants. They also generate power without emitting pollution.
In Europe, France benefits greatly as its nuclear energy produces the cheapest electricity according to 60 Minutes. The biggest drawback that many see with nuclear energy is the waste. Radioactive waste is a concern, since it is a health hazard and if stored improperly can leach into soil and groundwater.