This report presents complexity associated with producing and transmitting renewable energy. In the recent past, the demand for clean energy to replace fossil fuels has increased steadily.
Consequently, overwhelming demands for clean energy have become an escalating source of concern for renewable energy producing companies and policymakers.
As energy consumption increases globally, many stakeholders, policymakers and energy producing firms have focused on enhancing the production of clean energy to reduce adverse effects of fossil fuels.
This report investigates the primary causes of complexity in producing and transmitting renewable energy, consequences and to combat the problem.
Complexity in producing and transmitting renewable energy is multifaceted and may be related to many factors, which hinder production and transmission of renewable energy to users.
Specifically, timing and scalability, substitutability, resource input requirement, lack of consistency in output, and land and water issues have been identified as the major factors that contribute to complexity in generating and transmitting renewable energy.
Renewable sources of energy have many advantages to the environment. Most sources of renewable energy do not generate many pollutants. In addition, renewable sources of energy can be used for a long duration (Andrews & Jelley, 2007, pp.167-168).
Since ancient periods, renewable energy has acted as a fundamental energy source. However, in the past few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in demands for energy. The following factors have led to complexity in producing and transmitting renewable energy.
Timing and Scalability
Production of alternative sources of energy requires considerable time for feasibility studies. For instance, it takes an average of twenty years to establish a production facility for a renewable source of energy.
Furthermore, research activities may take long time, but may fail to produce desired results. Moreover, research findings cannot indicate clearly the future economic potential of a renewable source of energy (Andrews & Jelley 2007, pp. 167-168).
It is not easy to integrate alternative sources of energy with the existing energy systems (Johansson & Burnham, 2008, pp. 4-5). Therefore, additional infrastructure must be developed to facilitate transmission and use of alternative sources of energy.
For example, cars powered by fossil fuels cannot use electricity. Moreover, manufacturing of electric cars requires special equipment (Johansson & Burnham 2008, pp. 4-5). Production of many electric vehicles will also cause a high demand for electric power (Johansson & Burnham 2008, pp. 2-6).
Construction of production facilities for renewable sources of energy requires several resources and sources of labour. In addition, production facilities for renewable sources of energy may be located far from consumers (Andrews & Jelley, 2007, pp. 187-188).
At present, ethanol is an efficient source of renewable energy. However, ethanol contains much oxygen and and it is risky to transport ethanol in pipelines (Johansson & Burnham, 2008, pp. 85-89).
Moreover, hydroelectric power infrastructure cannot transmit wind power and electrical energy at the same time.
Resource Input Requirement
Research indicates that resources required to develop renewable sources of energy are scarce in the world (Johansson & Burnham 2008, pp. 88-89). Development of some types of renewable energy requires sophisticated technology.
For instance, fuel cells are manufactured by such as lithium, platinum and palladium. Currently, basic ingredients for manufacturing solar equipment are inadequate (Johansson & Burnham 2008, pp. 88-89).
Therefore, it will be difficult to make solar energy economical and sustainable in the future (Boyle, 2004, p. 67). Moreover, it might not be easy to satisfy a high demand for solar energy equipment because they have a limited production capacity.
Lack of Consistency in Output
Fossil fuels and hydroelectric power can generate constant flow of power. Conversely, weather conditions may have adverse effects on some types of renewable energy. For instance, when the intensity of wind increases, wind turbines generate more power.
On the other hand, during calm weather conditions, wind power may become unreliable while intensity of the sun may affect solar power. Consequently, it is difficult to satisfy a high demand for solar energy and wind power.
Land and Water
Large-scale productions of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power and electricity require large parcels of land, which may not be available in some places. Some renewable sources of energy such as hydroelectric power consume much water.
Effects of Complexity of Production and Transmission of Renewable Energy
Construction of large geothermal, solar and hydroelectric power plants can lead to mass eviction of organisms and environmental degradation. Power generating dams often affect the natural flow of water in rivers. This may negatively affect the environment.
Chemicals used for manufacturing solar equipment such as photovoltaic batteries are extremely hazardous to the environment and organisms. Solar energy has been criticised for generating excess heat, which destroys the environment (Johansson & Burnham 2008, pp. 92-96).
Cost of Production and Transmission
Construction and maintenance of production facilities for renewable energy is usually labour intensive and may increase the overall cost of production and transmission.
Thus, a high demand for labour may make renewable sources of energy to be uneconomical. Nonetheless, the labour-intensive nature of renewable energy is advantageous because it leads to creation of employment (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2013, p. 40-41).
Most of the renewable sources of power have low energy density. The effect of low energy density is that larger amounts of material or resources are needed to provide the same amount of energy as a denser material or fuel (Ayres, 2009, p. 39).
Low energy outputs are not effective in a commercial production of goods and services. Thus, the world cannot rely entirely on these sources of power (Twidell & Weir, 2006, pp. 111-112).
For example, ethanol has been criticised for being less productive because many resources are required to produce it (Johansson & Burnham, 2008, pp. 122-123). Lack of direct compatibility with other sources of energy makes renewable energy cumbersome and expensive to use in some places.