Transition Towards a Renewable Future: Just Plug-in-and-Play or an Energy Reboot

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The coming decades will see a profound energy transformation and the quest for tapping renewable energy from the sun, wind, biomass, bio wastes and geothermal power. However, the question is renewable energy cannot be used all the time, since it is more expensive to produce and to use than fossil fuel energy, which is used in most of our day-to-day activities and it will be very difficult to switch to renewable energy. Therefore, let us look at the most important sectors that are dependent on these fossil fuels and sum up the challenges and opportunities, for transitioning towards renewable energy.

Electricity Sector: Electricity can be produced from wind, water, solar energy and Geothermal. Replacing coal with solar, wind and hydrothermal energy for power generation could be a good and most easy start to the transition towards renewable future. The Indian government set a target of generating 175 GW of renewable power by 2022 which will include 100 GW of Solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydro power.

Transportation Sector: Transportation is a major sector of energy consumption, of which personal transportation contributes a major share. Promoting the use of electric cars, use of biofuels, walking, bicycling and public transport will be beneficial.

Communications Sector: Another most important sector that relies on non-renewable energy is the communications sector i.e., manufacturing of phones, cables, cell towers and computers. The long term solution could be to develop systems that last for a very long time and that can be recycled. Internet can be provided by the Wireless mesh network (WMN), which is a rapidly evolving technology and a potential alternate to Ethernet and other wireless protocols. The best example is the Air Jaldi Networks (https://airjaldi.com/) that provides internet to the rural areas of India using solar power.

 Industrial Sector: Majority of the raw materials in the manufacturing sector are fossil fuel based. Replacing the use of these materials with biodegradable sources, recycling and adoption of a cradle to cradle approach can be a viable option.

Food Industry: The food manufacturing sector is another area that mostly relies on fossil fuels, right from manufacturing to processing and transportation. Encouraging the use of organic farming and increase their share in the market, new farming methods, and re-localization of production and distribution are required.

Energy transition is not an option, but rather a necessity. So, we should strive to achieve this and if it is done appropriately, it will not only benefit the present society but will also help in creating a sustainable foundation for future generations.  

Author: K. Amulya, DST-Women Scientist, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Lab, EEFF Department, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), Hyderabad.

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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