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Power is a vital component for the advancement of the human civilization. The phenomenal advances witnessed over the last century have been facilitated by huge power sources.
Fossil fuels have provided for most of the energy requirements of the world. Industries and electricity plants have relied heavily on these non-renewable sources to satisfy the energy demands of the world. However, these non-renewable energy resources have significant negative impacts. For this reason, the international community has tried to come up with alternative sources of power.
One of these alternatives is green power, which promises to provide the energy needed by the modern world without harming the environment. This paper will set out to discuss green power, its merits and demerits, and how this alternative to non-renewable sources of energy can be adopted to safeguard the environment and our energy security.
Defining Green Power
Green power refers to electricity supplied from energy sources that are more readily renewable than traditional electrical power sources. These sources typically have low or zero emissions making them more environmentally friendly than contemporary sources.
By using renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, biogas, biomass, and solar, the major producers of electricity reduce their carbon emissions. Green power production reduces the emission of SO2 and NOx therefore diminishing the greenhouse effect associated with electricity generation.
Advantages of Green Power
The most significant merit of green power is that it is sustainable. Green power utilizes renewable sources that can be expected to provide mankind with energy indefinitely. This is in contrast with non-renewable energy source, which are bound to run out. For example, fossil fuels, which are the major source of energy, are expected to last for only 40 years at the current rate of consumption. This is a very bleak revelation since power producers rely overwhelmingly on fossil fuels.
If green power is not exploited aggressively, the world will face an energy crisis when the non-renewable energy resources run out (Moselle 140). The renewable energy sources used to provide green power can guarantee energy security in the world. Sources such as wind energy and solar energy are available in abundance. These sources can be expected to last indefinitely therefore ensuring that the world has a constant source of energy.
Green power is friendly to the environment since it typically has a low carbon emission. One of the adverse effects of power generation has been environmental degradation (Moselle 143).
Some energy sources such as fossil fuels have contributed to air pollution through the emission of gases when fuel is burned. These gasses have also played a role in global warming leading to climate change. Another major non-renewable source of energy, nuclear power, also has harmful environmental effects. Nuclear power plants produce abundant energy by burning nuclear fuels.
However, they produce toxic wastes that can contaminate water and food sources if it leaks into the environment (Caldicott 60). In addition to this, the radiation produced from nuclear power stations is unsafe for people and the environment. Green power produces energy without subjecting the environment to the hazards posed by the traditional sources of energy.
Green energy increases the energy independence of a country. Presently, most nations do not have energy independence since they rely on fossil fuel reserves of other nations (Hader 22). The reason for this is that while fossil fuels are the primary source of energy for many countries, this energy resources are found in a few nations.
The non-oil producing nations therefore have to purchase the products from the oil-rich nations. Green energy will increase energy independence since all nations have access to a source of green power (Moselle 120). By utilizing the solar, wind, biomass, and hydro resources available to them, countries will become energy self-sufficient.
Demerits of Green Power
In spite of its many advantages, Green power is more expensive than non-green power. This cost difference arises from the fact that non-green power is often obtained from relatively cheap sources such as fossil fuels. On the other hand, green power is produced from energy technology that is still in its development stages.
For example, governments and technology companies are still working on the most efficient large-scale solar power generation plants. Allen and Atkinson explain that a consumer who wants to use green power will have to elect to pay a rate premium to cover the incremental capital and operating costs of renewable energy over conventional energy costs (83). Most consumers are likely to opt for cheaper power sources that have negative environmental impacts.
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Currently, the global energy demands cannot be satisfied by green power. As such, using green power sources exclusively would lead to a major energy deficit. This would have many negative consequences since energy is needed to power industries and ensure economic development and growth in nations.
Allen and Atkinson declare that green power needs to undergo greater development before it can be a feasible substitute for conventional energy sources (83). While many governments have invested in the advancement of non-renewable power generation technology, the best technology is yet to be found.
Challenges Facing Green Power
In the last few decades, there has been interest in electricity from renewable sources by certain consumers. Green power products are marketed to consumers in many regions all over the world. In most cases, electricity companies offer green power products to consumers at a premium price.
However, green power has not received the widespread embrace needed for it to make a significant difference in the world. Green power has failed to gain prominence due to the lack of political and economic support. Hader illustrates that electricity companies that have a large base of non-renewable energy sources such as coal and nuclear power have no incentive to offer successful green pricing programs since this might impede on their future sales of electricity (154).
Green power is voluntary and this has hindered its popularity in many regions. Since green power is more expensive, consumers prefer to buy the cheapest electricity available. Hader advances that the government can play a crucial role in the development of green power by regulating the electricity market so as to enhance the profitability of green power providers (154). If the government regulated the electricity market, consumers could be given incentives to purchase green power.
Producers would then offer more green power and the environmental effect of such a move would be great. It can also play a role in educating the population about the environmental harm caused by electricity generated from fossil fuels and the environmental benefits of green power. This will lead to a bigger market for green power thereby increasing the scale of positive results accrued from green power.
The world has come to a realization that conventional energy sources are unsustainable. Efforts have therefore been made to come up with alternatives to non-renewable energy sources. Green power has the potential to provide clean energy that could dramatically improve the environment and ensure the energy security of many countries in the world.
However, for green power to have the intended effect there must be a significant change in energy user. Consumers play a critical role in the development of green power. With a demand for green power products, electricity companies will have an incentive to invest more resources in the production of green power.
In spite of the challenges facing green power, great progress has been made in producing green power. Moselle reveals that major advances have been made in solar power generations and there are already operational implementations of wide scale electricity production plants that use solar energy (152). Many countries are investing in wind farms to supplement the conventional energy sources. If these trends are followed, green energy will experience significant development in the coming years.
This paper set out to provide a concise discussion on green power. It began by highlighting why green power is necessary for the world. The paper has highlighted the environmental merits of green electricity. It has demonstrated that this energy sources will reduce the damages done by non-renewable energy sources and ensure global energy security.
The paper has also noted some of the major demerits of green power including its high cost and its inability to cater to the energy demands of the world. For green power to exhibit significant growth and development, greater government involvement and support will be needed. When this occurs, the world will be able to benefit from the energy security and reduced environmental impact attributed to green power usage.
Allen, Adriana and Atkinson Adrian. Sustainable Urbanisation: Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas. London: UN-HABITAT, 2002. Print.
Caldicott, Helen. Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer to Global Warming Or Anything Else. Melbourne: Melbourne Univ. Publishing, 2006. Print.
Hader, Peter. The Law of Energy for Sustainable Development. Oxford: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.
Moselle, Boaz. Harnessing Renewable Energy in Electric Power Systems: Theory, Practice, Policy. New York: Earthscan, 2010. Print.