Energy is the driving force of economical growth and development for any given economy in the world. Industries use energy as an important input and they provide employment to many people. For any work to be done transport is important to enable movement of people and raw materials as well as finished products, as a matter of fact the transport sector also heavily depends on energy.
Unfortunately, this important resource has a limited supply while the demand keeps on growing due to population growth and advancement in technology. Research is hence paramount to come up with energy production sources which can serve even the future generations, and have as minimal pollution effect as possible. This paper will explain what sustainable energy is and provide some of the sources.
Sustainable energy entails use of energy in a manner that enables the present generation to meet its requirements for energy, while at the same time not jeopardizing the future generations ability to get energy. It includes using energy sources that are not harmful to the environment and technologies which aim at increasing efficiency in the use of energy (Gabriel 95).
The term sustainable energy involves considering whether; the source of energy can cope with the ever increasing human needs, it produces as minimal environmental pollution as possible and has minimal wastes. In a nutshell, sustainable energy combines the idea of renewable energy as well as efficiency in consumption (Barbaro and Biachini 78).
The term renewable energy refers to energy sources that can be used throughout without getting depleted. This type of energy is mostly from natural sources which at the same time produces very minimal negative environmental effects.
All renewable energy sources cannot be termed as being sustainable but rather those that are easily available and produce minimal wastes to the environment (Evans 120). These sources include; hydroelectric power, solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, bio-energy and ocean energy.
Ocean energy refers to all the energy that is produced through the action of the ocean which , wave energy and thermal energy.
Thermal energy is produced due to temperature difference when the sun heats the surface of water while deep sea remains unchanged (Evans 210). Tidal and wave power on the other hand, are produced by the action of wind and gravitation pull on water. Thermal energy is fairly stable and more sustainable.
Moving water, mostly from rivers, is used to turn turbines activating generators which produce energy known as hydroelectric power.
Electricity from this source can be used for heating, lighting, in industries and even in the transport sector. Presence of rivers in most parts of the world makes hydroelectricity available to most people and easy to produce (McLean-Conner 58). It produces minimal wastes to the environment and is almost pollution free.
Geothermal energy refers to the type of energy harnessed from heat that is tapped from the underground using pumps dug into the ground. This ranges from hot water found just under the earths surface to where very hot magma is found. The earth will with the fact that geothermal energy is clean, this is a very sustainable source of energy.
The sunrays heat the earth and are the main source of natural energy in the earth. Various technologies have been developed which use sun light to produce energy that can be applied in various sectors of the economy.
Wind is also used to turn turbines that can produce electricity ranging from 600 Kw to 5 Mw (Wengenmayr and Buhrke 87). The rate of turbine rotation determines the amount of electricity produced, therefore rate of production increases when wind becomes strong. Areas where strong winds are common and stable are hence preferred for situating the wind turbines.
Organic matter also contributes very much to the production of sustainable energy which has for years been in use. Organic wastes from industries, homes and agricultural activities can be used as a source of energy mostly in lighting and cooking. In conjunction with that, not only is energy produced from this organic waste but also the waste is made to contribute positively to the economy.
Over the years, technology in the production of renewable energy has been developing introducing some new ways of harnessing energy from nature. Anciently, people used hydroelectric power and geothermal energy for their energy needs but heavily depended on oil.
Due to the oil crisis of the 1970s, there was need for other sources of energy production to be developed because it was evident that the sources hitherto were not reliable (Gabriel 171). This led to the discovery of solar energy and wind produced electricity.
Recently, technology has advanced leading to introduction of even more sustainable ways of energy production which include biomass gasification, ocean energy, nanotechnology and further improvement on solar energy harnessing.
Much as effort is made to ensure that energy production increases and renewable sources as a proportion of total energy sources rises, consumption of energy need to be looked into. Paying much attention to the supply of energy alone will not help as such if the consumption is left unchecked.
With improved technologies, production of various goods and services can be achieved using lesser energy than they currently require (Barbaro and Biachini 320). Efficiency enables in taming the growth in demand for energy which gives opportunity for of energy to make meaningful impact.
It should be noted that energy conservation is not the same as energy efficiency because, whereas conservation requires one to forfeit a certain service in order to save energy, efficiency is the use of lesser amount of energy to get the same output.
Efficiency in energy consumption other than reducing the amount of energy demanded, contributes positively to the economy as it reduces the amount of , investment in energy infrastructure and decreases environmental protection requirements (Wengenmayr and Buhrke 314).
With the ever growing demand for energy in the world care has to be taken to ensure that the future generation will have a way to survive. Furthermore, human beings have a moral obligation to protect the environment from pollution which most of the energy production sources cause. We heavily rely on energy for most of our activities and the idea of doing without energy is simply out of this world.