Stabilizing Climate: Shifting to Renewable Energy By Jay Giddens, Joe Posten, Jessica Jortberg
Plan B Goals for 2020 • Plan B is designed to avoid destabilizating economic and political stresses that will come with unmanageable climate change • Goal is to reduce the world’s net carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2020 • This is feasible if all coal and oil electricity is replaced with renewable energy • Brown predicts that coal will not likely be a economically viable source of energy by 2020 because of the cost
Turning to the Wind • Wind energy is very appealing due to its abundance, low cost, and it is widely distributed • Functionality of Wind Turbines: • Wind turbines are extremely efficient, 300 times more efficient than ethanol • Wind turbines only occupy 1% of a wind farm, making it convenient for farmers to continue harvesting • Farmers also receive $3,000-$10,000 in stipends for EACH wind turbine on their land
Wind Around The World • China has enough readily available wind energy to double its current electrical generating capacity • 70 countries are currently harnessing wind energy • The U.S. is leading in total wind capacity, followed by Germany, Spain, China, and India. Recently changing because China’s wind generation is doubling each year. • The East Coast of the United States has enough wind energy to power the entire U.S. economy
Solar Cells and Thermal Collectors • Energy from the sun can be collected with solar photovoltaies (PV) and solar thermal collectors • Solar PV Sells: convert sunlight directly into electricity • Solar Thermal Collectors: convert sunlight into heat that can be used to warm water or generate electricity. • EX: rooftop solar water heaters
Solar Across the Globe • Main PV production occurring in Japan, Germany, China, Taiwan, and the U.S. • China surpassed U.S. in PV production in 2006 • Solar PV installation is doubling every two years • India is ideal for solar energy due to the Great Indian Desert. • U.S. created federal tax credits for solar energy in 2006
Logistics of Solar PV • It is currently cheaper to install PV panels than to build a central power plant and a grid • Requires no fuel costs and very little maintenance • A solar PV lighting system would pay for itself in four years • After the initial installment cost of rooftop solar water heaters, the hot water becomes essentially free
Energy From the Earth: Geothermal • The heat in the top six miles of the earth’s crust has 50,000 times more energy than the world’s oil and gas reserves combined • Unfortunately, only 10,500 megawatts of geothermal has been harnessed worldwide • Geothermal is growing at a slow 3% per year
Geothermal Energy Around the World • 24 countries are currently converting geothermal energy into electricity • The Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean and the Great Rift Valley of Africa are exceptionally rich in geothermal energy • Iceland receives 27% of their energy from geothermal power plants • Iceland uses geothermal energy to heat almost 90% of its homes
Other Uses of Geothermal Energy • Geothermal heat pumps: used for heating and cooling • Use the stability of the earth’s temperature near the surface as a source of heat in the winter and a source of cooling in the summer. • Heat pumps use 25-50% less electricity than conventional systems • Greenhouses • Geothermal energy is being used to produce fresh vegetables in the winter • Aquaculture • Fish farms utilize the warm water underground produced from geothermal energy • 16 countries currently using this including: China, Israel, and the U.S.
Plant-Based Sources of Energy • The use of forest industry byproducts, urban waste, sugar industry byproducts, livestock waste, and crop residues for electrical generation, heating, or automotive fuel production. • By replacing coal with wood chips, carbon emissions are decreasing by 76,000 tons per year.
Plant-Based Energy Around the World • The United States’ primary plant-based source comes from burning forest waste • Nearly half of Sweden’s heating systems have replaced oil with wood chips and urban waste to runoff of instead • In Europe, waste-to-energy plants provide 20 million consumers with heat
Various Sources of Plant-Based Energy • Sugar Industries • burn cane waste to create heat and power • Companies are then selling the excess energy to local utility companies • Common in Brazil • Automotive fuels: • Ethanol and biodiesel
Limitations and Criticisms of Plant-Based Energy • Even though corn is the most efficient grain crop, it can only convert 0.5% of solar energy into a usable form. In comparison, solar PV can convert 15% of sunlight into electricity • Burning garbage is not a smart way to get rid of waste. It would make more of an impact to strive for a zero-waste economy • Planting corn for ethanol means more acres cleared. Actually increases greenhouse gas emissions
Hydropower: Rivers, Tides, and Waves • Typically refers to the dams that harness the energy in river flows and tides/waves • 16% of the world’s electricity comes from hydropower • The first tidal generation facility was started in France 40 years ago and is still open • First wave farm is on the coast of Portugal • Still a developing resource
The World Energy Economy of 2020 • New energy economy emphasizes wind, sun, and the earth’s heat to create a sustainable environment • Plan B predicts that fossil-fuel generation will drop by 90% worldwide by 2020 • This model assumes the world will shift to all electric cars, electric trains, and electric heating/cooling systems by 2020
The Future • Localization • localization of the energy economy will also increase the localization in the food economy • Livestock will shift from large feeding operations to an increase of smaller farms • Government • The government will continue to create tax breaks for use of renewable energy • Place mandates on for higher efficiency standards for automotive companies and businesses
Discussion Questions • Based on the presented information, which form of renewable energy is viable for the United States and why? • Based on the presented information about each type of renewable energy, do you think that there may be regional environmental factors that could hinder the implementation of these practices in certain areas? If so, what might the problems be and why might they exist? • What might be a viable method in aiding people in developing countries to acquire solar technology? • What form of renewable energy might work best in Colorado and why? • What are Brown's key points in his seeming disapproval of certain plant based renewable energy?
QUIZ 1. Out of the following choices, select two forms of renewable energy. A. Solar energy C. Natural Gas B. Nuclear energy D. Geothermal energy 2. According to Brown, which source of energy is the most feasible for future energy use? A. Plant based fuels C. Hydroelectricity B. Solar energy D. Wind energy 3. Why does Brown appear to disagree with the use and production of ethanol from corn? A. It is just not practical since only 0.5 percent of solar energy to grow the corn is converted to a usable form of energy. B. He believes that it is an unethical use of corn. C. Because the corn industry is suffering due to lack of resources and will not be practical in the future. D. There is not enough manual labor to support the massive increase in demand that would accompany an ethanol based market. 4. What positive prospects does localization promise? A. An increase in factory farming. B. An increase in chemical pesticide use. C. Reducing transport costs and energy consumption in transport of goods. 5. What is energy from within the Earth referred to as? A. Solar Energy B. Ethanoliam wind based energy C. Hydroelectric-radiation energy D. Geothermal energy