Article | December 23, 2021
With the popularity of solar increasing across the country, the number of solar installers has been multiplying. Unfortunately, many fly-by-night companies with minimal installation experience or larger national firms with little market history are trying to capitalize on the industry’s growth. In addition, the sheer volume of installation partners that consumers have to choose from can result in a great deal of buyer confusion.
More choices, more issues
As the number of solar installers has gone up, so have complaints and issues related to providers and their service. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reached terms with Empire Solar Group LLC’s trustees, a national solar installer that went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving 45 homeowners in Minnesota with projects in various levels of incompletion. Unfortunately, they’re not alone, as many other consumers have also fallen into precarious situations after companies using high-pressure sales tactics have been unable to deliver on the work. Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar, says, “He’s angered that companies go out of business and face no fines.” Allen and other established industry leaders have done their best to help out customers caught in the middle of an installer’s bankruptcy issues, but there is only so much they can do.
What protections do consumers have?
In some cases, states have put into place protections for consumers; for example, in Minnesota, consumers stranded with uncompleted projects can get access to the state’s Contractor Recovery Fund, which receives money from licensing fees to help offset these costs. But that is of little comfort for those trying to determine what partner to choose for their project.
The best bet
When picking a solar installation partner, your best bet is to avoid those with high-pressure sales tactics, “too-good-to-be-true” pricing, or ones with little to no installation experience. Don’t simply trust the sales rep, do a little of your own research to see what other customers are saying. Looking for a record of successfully completed projects and businesses with state and national certifications can be another way to confirm credibility.
Article | August 3, 2021
Renewable energy is the energy generated from natural resources on Earth that are neither limited or exhaustible, such as wind and sun. Thus, renewable energy is an alternative to conventional energy based on fossil fuels and is generally less harmful to the environment.
Some Sources of Renewable Energy
Solar energy is created by capturing sunlight's radiant energy and turning it into heat, electricity, or hot water. Photovoltaic (PV) systems utilize solar cells to convert direct sunlight into energy.
The significant advantage of solar energy is that it is functionally infinite. There is an infinite supply of solar energy with the technology to harvest it, making fossil fuels obsolete. Using solar energy instead of fossil fuels can also help improve public health and environmental conditions. In addition, solar energy has the potential to eliminate energy expenses in the long run, as well as decrease your energy bills in the short term. Many government, state, and local governments also provide rebates or tax credits to encourage investment in solar energy. To know more about Solar Energy, click here.
Although solar energy can save you money in the long term, it has a high upfront cost out of reach for most households. In addition, for personal houses, homeowners should also have enough sunlight and space to install their solar panels, restricting who can realistically adopt this technology on an individual level.
Wind farms use turbines to generate wind energy and convert it to electricity. There are many types of systems used to convert wind energy, and each one is unique. Commercial-grade wind-powered generating systems can power a wide range of organizations, while single-wind turbines are utilized to complement current energy organizations. Utility-scale wind farms, which are purchased on a contract or wholesale basis, are another option. Wind energy is technically a kind of solar energy. Wind is caused by temperature variations in the atmosphere and the rotation of the Earth, and the geography of the planet.
Wind energy is a clean energy source, which means it does not damage the environment in the same way other types of energy do. Wind energy does not emit carbon dioxide or any other hazardous pollutants that can degrade the environment or damage human health, such as smog, acid rain, or other heat-trapping gases. Investment in wind energy technology can also lead to new employment opportunities and job training, as farm turbines should be serviced and maintained to remain operational.
Wind farms are often constructed in rural or isolated locations, far from busy towns where electricity is most required. Wind energy must be transmitted through transition lines, which raises the cost. Even though wind turbines produce relatively little pollution, some cities are opposed to them because they dominate skylines and create noise. In addition, wind turbines can pose a danger to nearby animals, such as birds, who are occasionally killed when they collide with the turbine's arms while flying.
When it comes to hydroelectric power, most people think of dams. Pumped-storage hydropower is the process through which water flows through the turbines of a dam to generate energy. Run-of-river hydropower utilizes a canal to funnel water through rather than a dam to power it.
Hydroelectric power is very flexible since it can be generated utilizing both large-scale projects such as the Hoover Dam and small-scale projects such as underwater turbines and lower dams on rivers and streams. In addition, because hydroelectric power does not emit pollutants, it is a far more ecologically beneficial energy source for our environment.
The majority of hydroelectric power plants use more energy than they generate. To pump water, the storage systems may need to utilize fossil fuels. Although hydroelectric power does not contaminate the air, it disrupts rivers. It harms the animals that dwell in them by changing water levels, currents, and migratory routes for many fish and other freshwater ecosystems.
Geothermal heat is heat trapped under the Earth's crust due to the Earth's creation 4.5 billion years ago and radioactive decay. Large quantities of this heat can sometimes escape spontaneously, but only all at once, resulting in well-known phenomena like volcanic explosions and geysers. This heat can be collected and utilized to generate geothermal energy by utilizing steam generated by heated water pumping under the surface, which rises to the surface and can power a turbine.
Geothermal energy is not as common as other forms of renewable energy, but it has considerable energy supply potential. In addition, it has a little environmental impact because it can be constructed underground. As geothermal energy is replenished naturally, it is not in danger of depletion.
When it comes to the drawbacks of geothermal energy, the cost is a significant issue. Not only is the infrastructure expensive to construct, but it is also vulnerable to earthquakes in some parts of the world.
Is renewable energy capable of powering the future?
Renewable energy technologies already account for approximately 26% of total global power, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that this will rise to 30% by 2024. According to the IEA, by 2024, the world's renewable energy capacity will have increased by 1,200 GW, which is equivalent to the capacity of the whole United States.
Expert analysis indicates that a completely sustainable energy system can be achieved worldwide over the next 30 years; the difficult part is persuading countries to change their ways.
What is the significance of renewable energy in the future?
There are many reasons why renewable energy is critical for the future, particularly given the negative impact that fossil fuels have on our world. This includes, among other things, air and water pollution, habitat and wildlife loss, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Here are a few examples of why renewable energy is so important:
Lowers air pollution: By lowering air pollution, renewable energy may help improve people's health worldwide. Air pollution is a significant environmental problem, particularly in metropolitan areas and developing countries, and the World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people die prematurely due to inhaling contaminated air each year.
Lowers the danger of floods and droughts: Using renewable energy can also lower the risk of floods and droughts throughout the world. For example, many gallons of water are required to operate power plants that burn fossil fuels, leading to droughts in many low-rainfall nations. In contrast, climate change induced by the combustion of fossil fuels produces greater rainfall in other areas, resulting in catastrophic floods.
Promotes local economies: The development of renewable energy technologies also contributes to creating new employment and financing for local economies. As a result, more employment in renewable energy is being generated every day, and they are only expected to grow more secure as technology advances.
Lower long-term costs: Clean energy sources are becoming more appealing investment possibilities than fossil fuels. With the growing popularity of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, investment is low risk, even with hefty initial installation costs. They can effectively generate electricity "for free" for decades after installation.
A future powered by renewable energy will result in a more sustainable environment and help many local economies in ways that fossil fuels cannot.
What is the best future renewable energy source?
Solar energy and wind power, together with hydropower, are considered the greatest renewable energy sources for powering our future planet. They are the cleanest renewable resources and are ideal for household, industrial, and national grid uses.
They can offer limitless quantities of clean energy to the world, but they can also boost local economies. Wind power technology has already resulted in a significant rise in employment and helps to put money back into local communities, with additional jobs being generated with each installation.
Solar energy can benefit everyone who has sufficient space for PV panels, and it is much less intrusive than wind turbines. And, although initial installation prices can be high, they will start to fall as solar becomes more common.
Is it possible for the world to survive on 100% renewable energy in the future?
The world may survive on 100% renewable energy in the future, but this will not be without challenges. To read more about the challenges in renewable energy click here. Each nation will have to go through its transition phase, which will be relatively simple for some and more difficult for others. Others may be hesitant even to begin the transition if their economy is highly dependent on fossil fuels.
The world's future can be unpredictable, and it's impossible to tell if it's possible to live completely on renewable energy. Still, we can help make the planet a better place by switching our homes' electricity to renewable energy.
In the future, how efficient will renewable energy be?
Renewable energy efficiency is determined by how much energy can be generated in a given period and how much it costs to generate this energy. Despite the fact that all renewable energy technologies have high initial costs, the costs of generating energy are considerably lower than the costs of obtaining fossil fuels.
With the continuous advancement of renewable energy technology, this efficiency will only increase, bringing us closer to a bright future for renewable energy.
What are the future benefits and drawbacks of renewable energy?
Renewable energy technologies have an infinite supply — as long as we have the sun, wind, water, and natural heat, we have renewable energy technologies.
Reduced global warming impacts, such as floods, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions.
Fewer air contaminants, which lead to improved respiratory health.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions result in a more stable climate.
More employment for local areas.
More robust supply, which assists in the elimination of power outages.
Lower energy costs, particularly with renewable energy prices falling.
Expensive initial installation costs.
Intermittent - depending on the renewable energy source, they will not provide electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Solar energy, for example, cannot be produced at night, and wind is not always powerful enough to spin a turbine.
More advancements in storage solutions are required - renewable energy storage can be costly, but this is expected to improve as technology advances.
Geographical constraints - some areas will be more suited to renewable energy sources than others.
What factors will influence the future of renewable energy?
The environmental advantages and the cost of transition are the two most important factors determining the future of renewable energy.
The benefits of renewable energy sources often exceed the drawbacks, yet the high initial costs frequently discourage people from investing. Luckily, as environmental problems become more generally recognized, renewable energy prices, including installation costs, are falling, providing greater incentive to switch to renewable energy sources.
So, what does the future of renewable energy hold?
Renewable energy is expected to grow in popularity over the next decade, attempting to minimize the impacts of climate change. This may take some time, but we will have to switch to renewable energy to fight against climate change and protect our environment.
Why is renewable energy the future?
Alternative energy sources emit much less Carbon dioxide than natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. Switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production will benefit the environment by delaying and reversing climate change.
Is renewable energy a good investment for business?
There are many benefits to investing in renewable energy sources for businesses, including increased marketing possibilities, fewer emissions, cheaper energy costs, and many more. Businesses must lead the way in becoming more sustainable by expanding their usage of renewable energy.
What is the best renewable energy source for the future?
Solar energy and wind power, together with hydropower, are considered the greatest renewable energy sources for powering our future planet. They are the cleanest renewable resources and are ideal for household, industrial, and national grid uses. They can offer limitless quantities of clean energy to the world, but they can also boost local economies. Wind power technology has already resulted in a significant rise in employment and helps to put money back into local communities, with additional jobs being generated with each installation.
"name": "Why is renewable energy the future?",
"text": "Alternative energy sources emit much less Carbon dioxide than natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. Switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production will benefit the environment by delaying and reversing climate change."
"name": "Is renewable energy a good investment for business?",
"text": "There are many benefits to investing in renewable energy sources for businesses, including increased marketing possibilities, fewer emissions, cheaper energy costs, and many more. Businesses must lead the way in becoming more sustainable by expanding their usage of renewable energy."
"name": "What is the best renewable energy source for the future?",
"text": "Solar energy and wind power, together with hydropower, are considered the greatest renewable energy sources for powering our future planet. They are the cleanest renewable resources and are ideal for household, industrial, and national grid uses. They can offer limitless quantities of clean energy to the world, but they can also boost local economies. Wind power technology has already resulted in a significant rise in employment and helps to put money back into local communities, with additional jobs being generated with each installation."
Article | April 20, 2021
Energy is an important feature in the economic and political development of a country. In developed nations like the USA, energy expansion has now reached a point where renewable energy sources also play a large part in the production of electricity.
To meet the energy demands of the country, most production of renewable energy comes from fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources.
Around 25% of the world’s energy is generated with renewable energy resources- mainly solar, wind, hydropower, and in some cases, geothermal. It is one of the fastest-growing electricity sources.
Renewable energy is collected from resources that are abundantly available in the environment, like the sun or wind. There has been a growing interest in renewable energy production as fossil fuels are depleting. In most parts of the world, renewable energy has become a primary source of energy production.
Renewable energy is preferred as they produce fewer greenhouse gases than non-RE sources. There are several other advantages to renewable sources like lower carbon emissions, reduced air pollution, and other socioeconomic benefits.
However, unlike non-RE sources, there are challenges in renewable energy like economic, political and regulatory barriers, structural, social, and technical challenges which require advancement in technology, and a heavy investment with a proper understanding of obstacles it faces. Some obstacles are due to technology associated with renewable energy, whereas others are because of policies, marketplace, regulations, and infrastructure.
Impact of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a grinding halt. It has severely impacted individuals and businesses alike, with many of the latter being closed down permanently. Similarly, the pandemic has also impacted the expansion of clean energy systems by forcefully curbing any investments.
The technology and adoption of renewables have been making uneven but sure progress. The global pandemic has slowed down this development. According to International Energy Agency, the global share of electricity supply from renewables had reached 28% in 2020 from 26% in 2019, but the growth is expected to slow down further. The total energy supply is set to reduce by 13% from 2019. This substantial decline can be attributed to supply chain disruptions, lockdown, and emerging financial problems. Transport biofuel production and renewable heat consumption are projected to decline due to lower industrial activity.
Governments have an opportunity to promote and accelerate the use of clean energy by incentivizing building, technology, and infrastructure across the country. This would be crucial to rebuilding the economy, create jobs, and build efficiency.
Capital Costs and Investment
The most obvious challenge of widespread adoption of renewables is cost, predominantly infrastructure costs like building and installing solar and wind power plants. Although it is quite cheap to operate and maintain solar and wind power plants, installation becomes more and more expensive.
Over the last few years, even though the prices of installation of solar panels has fallen significantly, it remains higher than non-renewables. On average, a 2-kilowatt solar panel system costs $4,159 after tax credits, whereas the capital cost of a gas-fired power plant would cost lesser than that.
In the last two years, investment in renewables has increased, but that is only because the investments in fossil fuels have been rapidly falling. Clean energy investments still fall short of what is necessary to convert into a more sustainable future. To ensure continuous investment in sustainable energy, policymakers have to focus on short investment turnaround, focus on rapid environmental gains favoring cleaner energy generation.
Power on demand
One of the most significant challenges of renewables is the ability to provide power on demand. In the case of solar power, you only get energy during the day and only when it is sunny. As for wind energy, power is generated only when it is windy. There is an intermittent generation of power in renewables which wouldn’t be a problem if there were appropriate energy storage solutions. The biggest test in providing power on demand is storage. Even if homes, businesses, or states install wind energy systems or solar panels, storing the generated energy is still an unsolved issue.
Opponents of renewable energy highlight the reliability factor on solar and wind to augment support for coal, gas, and nuclear plants, which provide baseload power. This argument is used by lobbyists to drive out investment into renewables, thus becoming a barrier to widespread adoption of wind and solar energy.
Renewable energy plants have grids that require a large area of land. It can be unappealing to customers to switch to renewable energy sources as it is conditional depending on the size of the land. Not all states and regions are apt to build solar panels or have wind turbines as they are dependent on the geographical location. For example, building solar panels in California makes more sense than building them in New York as the former has an abundant supply of both sun and land.
Renewables operates on what is known as a decentralized model. In a decentralized power plant, small generating stations are spread across a larger area that works collectively to deliver power. In the case of coal, nuclear power, or natural gas, they are highly centralized and depend on fewer high output power plants.
Decentralized systems prove to be a problem for siting and transmission of energy created by solar or wind. Siting is needed to move blades or solar panels to large pieces of land. To do so requires to draw up contracts, negotiate, acquire permits, or build community relations; all of this can delay or kill a renewable project even before it begins.
Businesses can incur additional charges due to demand and delivery which seems like a significant challenge for them. Utility services apply these charges to recover costs of purchasing energy and maintaining power lines and energy lost in the transmission system. Moving power sources closer to your business will help you avoid such preventable expenses.
The next challenge to overcome in renewables is the transmission of generated electricity. Transmission means the transfer of electricity from where it is generated to where it is consumed. Most transmitters that exist in this day and age are built for coal and other fossil fuels and not renewables. To make things easier for transmission of clean energy, there needs to be a significant infrastructure and technological development, which cost a lot of money.
Making the economics work with financing and siting can prove costly for developers and customers alike.
Policies and Regulations
Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry is backed by multi-billionaires who wield a considerable amount of political influence. This severely affects the chances of expansion for the renewable industry. Industry experts estimate that the USA spends upwards of $60 billion on subsidies for fossil fuels every year. The taxpayers have helped fund the industry’s research and development, drilling, mining, and generation of electricity. Renewables like wind and solar enjoy much lesser subsidies and political backing. The fossil fuel industry has used its enormous power to spread misinformation about climate change.
To increase public interest and investment in renewables, there need to be clear and concise legal procedures and regulatory policies. Having proper regulations in place creates a stable environment for investment and overcome hurdles and can anticipate the revenue streams. Large-scale renewable energy projects require a large amount of capital which is hindered by the failure of proper policies that fail to attract private players.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a major challenge with using more renewable energy?
Renewable energy is competing with fossil fuels and nuclear technology. Other major challenges include underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of economies of scale.
What are the benefits of using renewable energy?
Some benefits of using renewable energy are lower energy costs, reduction of emissions, massive positive impact on environment, and marketing opportunities for businesses.
Is renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels are subsidized which makes it cheaper at the beginning. However, renewables get cheaper to maintain over the years hence making it cheaper than fossil fuels.
What is the cheapest source of renewable energy?
Solar PV and on site wind are the cheapest sources of renewable energy sources.
"name": "What is a major challenge with using more renewable energy?",
"text": "Renewable energy is competing with fossil fuels and nuclear technology. Other major challenges include underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of economies of scale."
"name": "What are the benefits of using renewable energy?",
"text": "Some benefits of using renewable energy are lower energy costs, reduction of emissions, massive positive impact on environment, and marketing opportunities for businesses."
"name": "Is renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels?",
"text": "Fossil fuels are subsidized which makes it cheaper at the beginning. However, renewables get cheaper to maintain over the years hence making it cheaper than fossil fuels."
Article | December 23, 2021
Cleaner energy resources are the dire need of the hour and this is a known fact. While scientists and experts across the planet are striving hard to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, our energy needs have never faced a downfall- thanks to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Although renewable resources like solar, wind, and hydro-electric power are the most popular alternatives, these are seasonal energy sources and the energy production from the same will not be similar all around the year. The fluctuations in production hence cannot always meet the energy demand of the population, and this makes the renewable energy sources not completely reliable.
Solar Production v/s Demand of the same in a year
What and How H2 is produced?
Now, this is where Hydrogen- the first element of the periodic table comes to the spotlight with a solution. Being a gas, hydrogen fuel can very well cater to our energy needs and is produced from techniques including Thermochemical, Solar-Water splitting, electrolytic and biological processes. While the production of this cleaner energy source leaves a carbon footprint of about 830 million tonnes in the form of CO2 annually, the result being a zero-emission fuel is what makes H2’s future bright.
Storage of H2 – the million-dollar question:
Having almost cleared the need and methods of producing hydrogen fuel, we will be looking at an area that is usually not given much thought about and that is the storage of H2. As already mentioned, for time being let us consider hydrogen as an alternative to renewable resources which is utilized when the energy demand increases drastically. While producing the fuel in the nick of time is obviously undoable, sufficient storage of H2 anticipating the demand is the best choice. Like Natural Gas, Hydrogen is also compressed before storing to achieve lower volume and also because liquid hydrogen demands a 64% higher amount of energy for storage than its compressed gaseous counterpart.
Storage tanks v/s Geological landforms:
Compressed Hydrogen can be stored in surface storage vessels (like steel composite concrete vessels and in wind turbine towers) or in geological landforms like (salt caverns, depleted O&G reservoirs, and aquifers). Nevertheless, unlike the underground geological landforms which offer huge storage capacity owing to their sheer scale, the storage tanks which can range in size from a small bottle to a huge tank require high amounts of pressure to store an appreciable amount of H2 in it. Since these storage tanks are usually constructed on the surface, the pressure conditions in these tanks need to be artificially stimulated and thereby mount huge upfront costs when compared to their geological storage counterpart.
H2 storage prices in Geological Landforms v/s Storage Vessels (in $/kg)
The above is a table comparing the prices of Hydrogen storage in Geological landforms and Storage Vessels at different pressure conditions. It is visible from the table that it's about 218 times cheaper to store the same amount of hydrogen in Geological landforms than in storage vessels.
Is geological storage truly a better option?
Like any other storage option geological storage too has its pros and cons. From the erosion of pipelines to the tedious task of injecting the gas and maintaining it at apt pressure conditions, geological storage has its limitations. However, the important prerequisite is the availability of the suitable landform itself.
While most of the Depleted O&G Reservoirs have already met all the requirements for a suitable Underground Hydrogen Storage (UHS) system, the presence of unrecoverable remnant fluids in it makes it both a boon and a bane. This is because the presence of remnant fluids like oil and gas satisfies the cushion gas need for efficient storage of H2 in the reservoir, chances of contamination of H2 by the same is also high. This is the reason why Aquifers too aren’t favorable underground landforms when it comes to hydrogen storage.
Salt Caverns- the best UHS System?
The problem of Hydrogen contamination in Depleted Oil & Gas reservoirs and aquifers leaves us to the next big suitable subsurface landform- salt caverns. Unlike the other two landforms, the problem of contamination can be prevented in these dome-like structures formed due to the upliftment of salt deposits and it is also found that about 98% of its storage efficiency can be used to store Hydrogen here. The reason behind its relatively expensive nature when compared to its other two counterparts is due to the process of salt removing or leaching that must be done before storing to ensure that the contamination of the gas is unheard of at least here.
Suitable Conditions of UHS:
As per Stefan Iglauer, the maximum amount of H2 can be stored at a depth of 1100m beneath the Earth’s surface and the capacity gradually decreases up until 3700 m depth beyond which the wettability of the gas increases as it percolates through the rocks and hence cannot be permanently immobilized. Conclusively it is found that suitable landforms formed at 1km depth can store up to 2.0 Mt of H2. Comparing this 2 MT storage capacity of Salt Caverns with the currently available storage tanks which can store about 800 kg of H2 in it, it is visible that geological landforms have a clear upper hand at least when it comes to storage capacity.
Future of UHS:
With demands for Hydrogen fuel estimated to grow at 5.48 % annually and the need for a suitable storage system of the same at 5.8% annually, the field of Underground Hydrogen Storage systems indeed has a bright scope. Moreover, to meet the large-scale needs of Industries, there is an imminent need to level up the storage capacity of H2 and by exploring suitable geological landforms across the globe, the estimated industrial need of 1200 kT/ year in 2050 can be met.