What is really renewable and fossil-free energy? And can I as a consumer choose?
Can you imagine a society without electricity? The power, which we take for granted, lights up and warms our homes and allows us to watch our favorite shows on television. Hospitals, grocery stores, trains and electric cars are also powered by electricity. In In developed countries, we are used to the electricity coming from the wall socket when and where we want, and that we can use just as much electricity as we need. Rarely do we think that the electricity we consume also has an environmental impact. Something that we can influence by choosing an energy source when we sign electricity contracts.
Many countries still use fossil fuels in electricity generation because it is easily accessible and cheap.
The difference in renewable and fossil-free energy sources
Renewable energy comes from sources that are constantly renewed naturally and will not run out. Or in any case, it is estimated that it will take several billions more years. Fossil-free means that electricity is not produced directly from fossil fuels such as oil, coal or gas. Fossil-free electricity comes from nuclear power and renewable energy sources – primarily from water and wind.
Nuclear power is a fossil-free energy source, but it is not renewable. Nuclear power is based on uranium, which today is common in nature. The uranium will not exist forever and is expected to last for 50-100 years. Until it is possible to meet the world’s electricity needs, nuclear power enables stable and large-scale electricity generation. Carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power are low throughout the life cycle.
Fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, take a long time to form. Coal and oil consist of organic material stored in the bedrock. The oil we use today was formed between 50 and 500 million years ago. Stocks are rapidly declining and it takes a long time for fossil fuels to renew. Fossil fuels are a resource that will end.
What is Renewable Energy?
Solar, wind, water and biofuel are examples of renewable sources. If a country has good conditions for renewable energy production, they can take advantage of this. If we talk wind, it will always blow – more or less – which creates opportunities for wind power.
We must also not forget the sun which supplies the earth with extremely much energy. The amount of energy that reaches the earth every day in the form of sunlight corresponds to about 15,000 times the total energy consumption in the world. If we could use only a fraction of the solar energy and convert it into electricity, many of the planet’s energy problems would be solved.
There are opportunities to use the sun’s energy. Technology is advancing rapidly and solar energy is therefore expected to play a crucial role in the future energy landscape.
How is the environment affected by energy production?
The use of renewable and fossil-free energy sources does not affect the environment in the same way as the use of fossil energy sources, such as coal and oil. Solar, wind and hydropower generate lower carbon dioxide emissions from a life cycle perspective than electricity produced from fossil energy sources. Seen from a life cycle perspective, nuclear power today has the lowest carbon footprint. All use of energy affects the environment.
For example, the nature, people and animals around the power plants can be affected by the plant. Therefore, it is important that the power plant owner safeguards biodiversity. Building power plants and drawing power grids are an interference with the landscape. Building and operating production plants requires raw materials, and many types of energy give rise to, for example, emissions and waste. This means that you always have to work actively to bring down environmental footprints.
What does renewable energy cost?
Just as with organic food, it is the demand that controls price and supply. The more people who make an active choice when signing electricity contracts, the more they have a chance to influence. Sometimes, renewable electricity can be cheaper than non-renewable electricity.
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