The renewable wonders of the world
Coal, oil and natural gas. The old fogies of the energy world. These fuels are used all over our planet – but it’s no secret that they’re running out. We all know they won’t be around forever. And sadly, we’ve known for a while now. That’s why it’s so important for countries everywhere to show a commitment to renewables.
In the UK, government statistics (happily) show that the use of renewable energy is growing year on year. It contributed 25% of electricity generation in 2016. But just what are these mysterious renewables that now make up a quarter of our fuel consumption? Well, let us introduce you to…
- Onshore and offshore wind power.
- Solar energy.
The government encourages the use of these natural energy sources because they reduce carbon emissions and can also be replaced quickly. For example, the UK’s high wind speeds may mean many, many bad hair days for us but they also provide ideal conditions for taking advantage of wind power. This is why the government has made a sensible and sizable investment in onshore and offshore wind farms.
However, there are plenty of other examples from our neighbours around the world that we could learn from too. So let’s take a look at how other countries are championing natural energy.
Like the UK, the majority of Denmark’s sustainable energy comes from wind power. And they don’t mess around when it comes to wind energy – in 2015, they broke the world record for production of wind power. In fact, in July of that year, they produced so much power in just one day that they were able to meet all their electricity needs and export another 40% abroad!
Denmark has continued to be a world leader in utilising their windy conditions as a power source and they are well on track for meeting their goal of using wind power to produce half of all their electricity by 2050. The UK could do even better by just copying them.
Iceland and the Philippines are amongst the top countries contributing to global geothermal power production, which is generated from the Earth’s internal heat. As well as being environmentally friendly, this smart energy source is reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective.
The Philippines recognised the potential of geothermal energy and now rank second (after the USA) in the world’s top geothermal countries – they have 20 geothermal power plants in the country, with another 5 proposed or under construction.
Iceland has also become pioneering when it comes to the generation of geothermal energy. The country is located over a rift in continental plates which makes it incredibly tectonically active, with a large number of volcanoes, hot springs and earthquakes – idea for geothermal power. Iceland’s green energy stats are very, VERY impressive: 100% of their electricity is generated from renewables. We’re pretty jealous, to tell the truth. And not just because of those hot springs.
Tidal energy – a form of hydropower – is widely used in Norway. The country is home to some of the strongest tidal currents in the world, namely the Saltstraumen strait – where 400,000,000 cubic metres of seawater passes through every six hours. So cleverly, Norway have utilised their extreme tidal and ocean conditions to create a powerful alternative energy source.
They’re leading the way in terms of renewable hydropower, which feeds over half of the country’s domestic energy consumption. According to research by the University of Oslo, Norway’s energy supply could be fully-sustainable by 2030. Which is a heck of a lot sooner than the UK, even with our recent efforts.
Even more natural energy sources
Renewable natural gas
Natural gas can be used as a sustainable energy source if it’s renewable – and, in fact, it is readily available. For example, you can find the largest gas reserve in the world in Turkmenistan, at the Darvaza gas crater. Known to locals as the ‘Door to Hell’ (don’t let that put you off), it was set on fire by Russian geologists in 1971 to prevent the methane gas from spreading and it’s been burning ever since – almost four decades later. Although not currently used to generate power, it’s an example of the kind of natural gases that could be utilised to create sustainable energy sources.
This one sounds fun, doesn’t it? Lightning strikes are another naturally occurring event that produce huge amounts of electricity. On average, each strike can generate five million joules, so finding a way to harness this power could be a huge advance in renewable energy. You may think that this would be difficult as lightning doesn’t strike twice, but in fact Catatumbo River in Venezuela experiences 1.2 million lightning strikes each year, showing a natural phenomenon that could be harnessed as a natural energy source.
It’s all pretty inspiring, huh?
Tackling carbon emissions has thankfully become a priority across the globe, with many countries using renewable energy sources more and more. And now, some energy companies in the UK have made it their priority too.
Renewable energy is now standard in many energy tariffs – our own monthly tariffs come with at least 33% of energy from renewable sources. So why not follow the positive examples set by countries like Iceland and Norway, and make your energy consumption greener without even having to think about it?
Image courtesy of iStock