Making Green Energy Affordable: Steps towards the Future

Making green energy affordable and scalable is going to be one of the most important topics of the next century. Fossil fuels will run out - it's only a matter of time - and we need to be prepared for that eventuality when it happens.

How do we make green energy affordable? Let's take a look at the primary challenges, possible solutions and what you personally can do to help.

==> The Primary Challenges

The primary challenge of green energy is its cost. At the moment, energy invested into green sources yields a return that's anywhere between three to ten times more expensive than fossil fuels.

That's why there's so much more money to be made in fossil fuels than green energy. The return on capital is much higher.

The intermittent nature of green energy is also a big challenge. For example, wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine, making wind and solar power difficult to handle consistently.

In order for wind and solar power to be competitive, there needs to be significant breakthroughs in battery technology, both in price and in storage capabilities.

==> Working Towards a Solution

How does one overcome these challenges?

Green energy venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has looked at the issue as a matter of experimentation.

In order to make green energy scalable, a new technology that's as profitable (or close to as profitable) as fossil fuels and coal needs to be discovered.

As long as green energy is only profitable when subsidized by governments, it won't take off to the scale of fossil fuels. The reason fossil fuels is such a huge industry is because so much money can be poured into it profitably.

In order for green energy to get the same amount of investment, it needs to offer the same level of profitability.

Khosla views getting green energy to that level as a matter of stepping up to the plate and doing as many ambitious experiments as possible.

The assumption is that nine out of ten experiments will fail and only one will succeed. But the one that succeeds can have a big impact on the planet.

==> What Can You Personally Do?

Chances are, you're not a banker or scientist who's actively working in the green energy industry. How can you personally help progress our future?

There are a couple things you can do.

The first is to get involved in local politics to get more green energy subsidies. Yes, it's true that energy subsidies are not a scalable way to grow green energy.

However, the more money the green energy earns as a whole, the more money they'll have to experiment with. Subsidies might not be scalable, but they'll help companies get themselves to scalability.

Another thing you can do is to vote with your wallet. Buy energy-saving light bulbs, invest in home solar panels and buy a hybrid car rather than a gas guzzler.

Getting our planet to a green future doesn't happen overnight. It'll take major breakthroughs, but it'll also take a collective effort on all of our parts.

Solar Power For Homes

Different Types of Green Energy

If the human race is to survive, we're eventually going to have to switch over to completely renewable energy. At the moment, most of our energy comes from natural gases, coal and oil based energy sources. These energy sources are both dirty and unsustainable.

What other alternatives do we have? These are the five main different types of green energy.

==> Hydropower

Hydropower is currently the largest producer of green energy, accounting for over 70% of our renewable energy production.

The way it works is that special installations are placed underwater, where strong currents of water will push through a mechanical instrument known as a penstock.

This "push" is then converted into electricity and fed into the energy grid.

==> Solar PV

Solar energy is another common type of green energy. There are two main types of solar power: solar power for homes and solar power plants.

Though solar PV has gotten a lot of press in recent years, there are a lot of problems still.

First of all, though the production of energy is more green than oil, the process of creating the materials solar PV is made of is quite toxic.

Also, to make your money back from the savings of a solar panel may take as long as ten to twenty years.

==> Wind Power

Wind energy is a stellar renewable source of power. The key to wind power is to place these energy generators in high altitude, high wind velocity locations.

The return on wind power is quite substantial. The only downside is that aesthetically they block the view from just about any angle because of their size.

That said, wind power is more cost-efficient than solar and easier to construct than hydropower.

==> Geothermal

Geothermal energy isn't applicable everywhere, but when it is the amount of energy generated can be very substantial.

Geothermal works by tapping into the earth's intrinsic heat. It turns that heat energy into power and uses that as electricity.

In order to use geothermal, a high-heat underground spot must be identified.

==> Biomass

Biomass is primarily the conversion of manufacturing by-products into electricity.

These by-products can include wood chips and fragments, leftover sugar, animal manure and anything else that's burnable.

Biomass can also include materials produced specifically for the production of energy (e.g. corn ethanol).

The biomass is burned and the heat energy is turned into electricity. Biomass is a great way of disposing of products that might otherwise become waste; but is unlikely to become a primary producer of our world's energy needs.

These are our primary sources of renewable energy. Of course, there are many other fringe sources of energy that are being researched all the time.

However, in order for a renewable energy to truly make sense, it needs to be both scalable and financially sustainable for investors. For the time being, the five listed above are the main sources of renewable energy.

 How did you like this post? If  you found this article helpful to you, you may want to share it with others by clicking the social networking buttons – Thank You!

 Cheers, Helene Malmsio

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