Geology Assignment Paper on Renewable Energy System Design

With all the debate about dependency on Oil, what if any will Solar, Wind, Renewable fuels and or Geothermal going to do for us?

Introduction

The debate on oil dependency originates from the growing need for energy as the society evolves, and the underlying environmental effects of fossil fuel energy and the finite nature of oil as a source of nature. However, every material is finite and man has the responsibility of assessing ways through which the finite material such as oil can be used creatively to enhance livelihoods (Vanderheiden 11). An increase in the development of machinery and different technological equipment to be powered using oil energy has heighted the level of dependence. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy has failed in this objective despite their abundance.

Overdependence on oil and the role of renewable energy sources

Oil and other fossil fuel energy sources are formed from the remains of plants and animal buried beneath the surface of the earth millions of years ago. These plants and animals underwent a transformation process to become combustible material that is used today as fuel (Venn 12). The contemporary society is over-dependent on oil and other fossil fuel energy as an essential source of heat in homes, oil is used in running engines of machinery such as motor vehicle and other automobiles. This implies that about 80% of all energy that is needed to meet the demands of human beings on earth come from burning fossil fuel (Venn 13). The rate of the exponential increase in the global demand for energy does not allow fossil fuel energy sources to replenish fast enough to satisfy the growing demand.

Over consumption and overdependence on oil has also been associated with the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This has resulted in climate change ensuing from the effects of global warming. In a country such as Ireland for instance, oil consumption was 89% in 2013. The country’s highest consumption of oil energy was experienced in 2004 when it was experiencing heightened economic growth under the Celtic Tiger. During this period, Ireland’s oil consumption rate was 90%. The country’s lowest oil consumption rare was in 1960 when its consumption value was 67%. Ireland is currently ranked in position 46 globally regarding oil consumption. The country’s consumption rate is higher than the United Kingdom and the United States, which are ranked 52nd and 56th respectively (Venn 12-15).

Debates on oil dependency have been inclined towards the need for countries to embrace renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. This is because they provide environmentally friendly and sustainable sources of energy. Globally renewable energy sources are used in providing electricity, transport sector and in heating and cooling. Collectively, these renewable sources of energy are used in addressing about 7% of energy needs in the world. This implies that fossil fuel energy and nuclear energy, which are nonrenewable energy sources, account for the supply of about 93% of earth’s energy sources (Venn 16).

Part of the debate has been that renewable sources of energy despite their abundance are relatively expensive to implement. This means that countries will have to spend a large percentage of their budget in the development of infrastructure and the implementation of policies targeting complete adoption of renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel energy such as oil (Vanderheiden 18). Furthermore, studies also indicate that renewable sources of energy do not have the capacity of producing energy equivalent to that produced by burning fossil fuel energy such as oil. This implies that the current renewable energy infrastructure cannot satisfy the ever-increasing demand for energy for industrialization and development purposes.

The main question that advocates of renewable energy sources must address is the techniques and the initiatives that have been instituted to ensure that renewable energy sources can take over the responsibility of generating base power load. Base power load is a power plant that has the ability to generate electrify on a 24-hour cycle steadily. This is unlike peaker plants whose cycles can only serve daytime demands. There are areas in the United States where renewable energy sources such as hydropower and geothermal have been used for base load power (Vanderheiden 18-20). However, these methodologies are dependent on specific geological features that are not available in all parts of the country. From a hypothetical perspective, solar and with thermal plants coupled with huge battery installations can provide base load power. However, these technologies are still in the developmental stage, and they face a plethora of scaling problems.

Analysis

The 20th century was characterized by the most prolific population growth and industrialization. These resulted in increased demand and dependence on oil and other nonrenewal sources of energy. According to existing estimates, oil reserve depletion ranges from 40- 120 years. These projections are unappealing to the global community, which is increasingly growing dependent on oil energy to meet the dynamic needs of the society. Other than the threat of depletion, increased use of oil energy has also been attributed to be the main contributor to global warming because of the emission of greenhouse gases. The earth is increasingly becoming warmer as the sea levels rise. These affect settlements, agricultural practices, and commercial practices such as fishing. Air pollution, which is a direct result of oil combustion, is associated with smog, degradation of plants, animals, and human health.

The debate around fossil fuel, the high dependence on oil its contribution to climate change and the impending energy problem and the need for renewable sources of energy also focus on the possibility of developing technical and cost-effective solutions to energy demands. Renewable energy sources are expected to play a critical role in providing solutions the increasing energy needs in the next century. There is need for an alternative energy source that can keep up with the increasing population growth and industrial activities (Salameh 23). The long-term feasibility of the global adoption of renewable energy sources as the primary source of energy will depend on the availability of technology and infrastructure that boosts their capacity to match and surpass those of fossil fuel energy.

Conclusion

It is evident that there are cost implications of developing infrastructure for renewable sources of energy. However, the inability of oil reserves to replenish at a rate that meets the growing energy demands implies that the society must seek an alternative. It is the responsibility of governments, and other stakeholders in the energy sector, to invest in research initiatives. These will be based on the possibility of assessing and developing effective ways through which renewable energy sources can become viable as major sources of energy. Until such measures are incorporated, the only alternative that exists in meeting the increasing demand for energy from a global perspective is to continue extracting from oil reserves.

Works Cited

Salameh, Ziyad. Renewable Energy System Design. Academic Press, 2014. EBSCOhost

Vanderheiden, Steve. The Politics of Energy : Challenges for a Sustainable Future. Routledge,

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Venn, Fiona. The Oil Crisis. Routledge, 2016. Turning Points. EBSCOhost