Our global energy consumption increases every year. As the life quality improves globally, more people buy electric devices and spend more time online. It probably isn’t an option to ask people to let go of their lifestyle and all of their devices – too much of our global infrastructure is built on the virtual – but if we continue in the same manner as now, we are going to run into a huge problem in the future.
Gas, oil, and coal used to be our go-to energy sources; however, all of these are unsustainable energies that produce carbon emissions. We only have so much of each, and once we run out, We need to find new ways of satisfying our insatiable energy hunger.
Options could be solar cells, windmill power, or fusion energy, for example. If the world switched over to these fully, a lot could be done to relieve the pressure on the climate. So let’s look closer at each of these three in the following.
The Sahara desert stretches for 9,200,000 km2. Much of this space is currently uninhabited and empty, as the temperature, the amount of sun radiation, and the infertility of the ground make it a complicated place to cultivate and colonize.
However, it’s the perfect place to build a large-scale solar power plant. If done right, such a power plant could easily produce all the energy we would need on Earth and more. We would never have to worry about our energy consumption again and go online or farm bitcoins guilt-free.
So why haven’t we done this yet? Because of the cost of producing voltaic cells and the efficiency of batteries. Luckily, companies, such as Elon Musk’s SolarCity, are currently working on developing batteries that store more energy and solar cells that are cheaper and more efficient.
Solar power isn’t the only option out there, though; fusion energy also holds great potential, although it has suffered from a bad reputation for a long time. Too often in the past, nuclear power plants were the cause of big catastrophes, so naturally, people became a little skeptical. In addition, there is the issue of nuclear waste and how best to dispose of it. However, a lot of technological advancement has occurred since Chernobyl and Fukushima: The nuclear reactors have gotten a lot more stable and the safety measures have improved too. And processes for recycling nuclear waste are also being developed.
Currently, 440 power plants are in use, and more are being produced and taken online. You can read more about the new kind of reactors being developed right now here.
But as if that wasn’t enough, we have also wind power. Just like solar energy, wind energy is also an abundant resource. Construct a few large-scale farms on the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic, and we could have an abundance of energy at our disposal. Several have already been built on smaller waters. The only issue holding us back from this option is again expenses. Constructing these farms and taking care of maintenance is costly. But just like with solar energy, much improvement is being done both in terms of the efficiency of the windmills and the expensiveness of producing and maintaining them.
In addition to these three, check out these 16 cool, funky, and epic inventions that could help us reach a completely renewable energy infrastructure.
Great progress is being made and it’s not unlikely that we could turn the switch on unsustainable energy sources within the next decade. Transitioning to renewable energy, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, is one way to help slow down the effects of climate change. However, there are also plenty of others. Click to find out more about The Global Challenge of Climate Change.