Clean Energy Using Earth's Gifts to Power the World

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The United Nations Goal number 7 states that by the year 2030, we should ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services to all. But what does that even mean? 

We understand as energy all the resources that help our electronic devices run. Including the air conditioner in our homes, the fuel to drive cars and all the energy we consume in our day to day lives. Living in areas with access to energy is vital to human development. When you think about it, without energy, access to information via the internet and access to health services becomes more challenging. 

Imagine a world without access to Google for researching and learning, and a world in which you cannot search for jobs online. Without access to electricity, many things take longer to get done, and economic progress becomes almost impossible. 

Many people – mainly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – live their daily lives without electricity. The number of people without access to electricity dropped from almost 860 million in 2018 to 770 million in 2019 (IEA, 2021), which is excellent news. However, a lot still needs to be done. 

 

What is Clean Energy? 

Clean energy is often collected from renewable resources found naturally in the environment, including carbon-neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

Clean energy has zero emissions. This means it does not pollute the atmosphere when used because it is carbon neutral. As a result, clean energy does not release greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, which is one of the leading causes of climate change.

 

Types of Clean Energy

As mentioned before, clean energy can be harvested from different sources. The most common of those are solar energy, wind power and Hydropower, also known as water power. 

Solar energy is harvested from the sun using solar panels. Solar panels allow for energy from the sun to be collected and transformed into electricity. Many people believe that solar panels don't work in colder climates. That's not true. Solar panels work very well in colder areas, even at lower light exposure. Solar energy can be gathered anywhere as long as there is daylight. 

However, one drawback of solar energy is that the solar panels' production has an environmental impact. Therefore, it is always advisable to make sure the panels come from reputable sources and to research and understand the conditions in which these were made. 

Wind power works by attaching a windmill to a generator. This form of generating energy has been used for centuries to grind grain and pump water. Wind turbines operate on a simple principle: instead of using electricity to make wind—like fans—wind turbines use the wind to produce electricity. The wind turns the propeller-like blades of a turbine around a rotor, which spins a generator, which creates electricity. 

Around the world, more and more wind farms are appearing both on land and on the sea (Onshore and offshore). According to goodenergy.co.uk, most onshore wind turbines have a capacity of 2-3 megawatts (M.W.), which can produce over 6 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity every year. That's enough to supply the electricity demand of around 1,500 average households. 

Water or hydroelectric energy is when we harvest energy from water flow. Hydroelectric power is generated by using flowing water to spin a turbine that turns a shaft connected to an electric generator. Usually, hydroelectric dams are used to direct the water in a downward direction through a turbine which can be controlled to maximize energy production.

As you can see, all these forms of energy use the momentum created by the naturally occurring energy sources to harvest and generate more power. None of these forms of energy release or produces gasses, waste or harmful residues into the environment. Therefore, they are considered clean. 

 

How Can You Help

The best thing we can all do is to become conscious consumers. 

  • Be aware of the amount of energy you consume every day and remember the impact on the environment. 
  • Help others become aware and inform them about their carbon footprint (how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels (driving) and meat consumption) and how they can carbon offset. 
  • Make a contribution by carbon offsetting, plant a tree or donate to parks and local conservation areas can help your carbon offset 
  • Find out more about clean energy and how you can contribute to the use of alternative energy. 
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Thinking Caps On

Imagine you are on a deserted island with two of your best friends. Among other things, you need to find a way to get the radio started to ask for help. S.O.S.! 

How can you harvest energy using only the things you have around you. For example, you have a motor from a boat but no fuel. However, you also have a river nearby, and the sea. Can you think of ways to generate clean energy? 

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