Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Adopting Clean Energy Use

Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Adopting Clean Energy Use

Muhammad Razi (GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Topi, Pakistan) and Yousaf Ali (GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Topi, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJDSST.2019100102
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These days, the excessive industrialization, elevated levels of pollution, and the increased energy crisis has led nations towards the use of renewable energy sources. Through the use of renewable energy sources, global warming can also be decreased, which is currently the biggest environmental issue worldwide. Pakistan, being a developing country, relies on the use of fossil fuels for the generation of electricity. The alarming increase in population, energy consumption per capita and energy wastages lead to a shortfall. To resolve this crucial issue, the alternative solutions considered include the use of renewable sources of energy such as hydro, solar and wind. The use of these renewable energy sources is governed by various environmental, economic and social parameters. The influence of these parameters on the use of renewable energy sources is studied through the use of DEMATEL and revised DEMATEL techniques.
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1. Introduction

Energy is one of the most basic socio-economic drivers of a country which can be sourced from renewable and non-renewable energy resources. Due to factors such as population growth, automation and increased energy requirements per person, it has become inevitable to focus on developing renewable energy sources. Renewable energy has many forms namely solar, wind power, hydroelectric, geothermal, hydrogen and fuel cells, and lastly biomass. Most of these sources relate to sunlight, directly or indirectly (Omer, 2008). The energy crisis in Pakistan has turned into a never-ending problem (Khalil and Zaidi, 2014), which resulted in lesser foreign direct investment and migration of industries to other countries.

Given the current deteriorating economic condition and the political opposition faced by any mega hydro or coal-powered electricity generation project, looking for alternates has become inevitable (Ishfaq et al., 2018). In addition, securing mega power plants is costly; for example, an entire corps of the Pakistan army is stationed at Tarbela, primarily for the protection of the Tarbela Dam which is a major national electricity contributor. A solution would be to install numerous small power plants dispersed throughout the country (Shahbaz et al., 2015). Solar energy and wind energy first come to mind when talking about renewable energy resources. As compared to dams and fossil fuel-based power plants, solar and wind energy power plants take very little time to set up. Both have known to pay back their cost in about a decade and have been successfully used by numerous countries like USA, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, etc. (Bhattacharya et al., 2016).

Renewable energy has recently gained a lot of attention around the globe especially in the developed world. One of the main reasons for shifting from traditional energy sources to non-conventional energy source is the demand for a pollution free environment. To reduce the carbon footprint in the country, governments have incentivized regions to reduce the use of fossil fuels (Yazdani et al., 2018). Some governments have introduced reduced taxation, subsidies, ease of processing legal papers and even partnerships to increase the use of renewable energy (Timilsina et al., 2012). As a result, many countries are moving towards the use of renewable energy sources. Renewable sources can be considered as a potential option to provide energy in a sustainable and clean way to an ever-increasing global population and fulfill their energy needs. Different cultural, societal and political factors act as an obstacle in implementing these technologies and compromise their future sustainability. It is seen that such projects are not very well accepted as expected due to a number of barriers and opposition faced by the people living nearby (Bazilian et al., 2011). Solar power plants are said to take up a lot of land and may be opposed due to religious or cultural reasons.

For example, recently a 100MW solar power plant installed in India was destroyed by the local population due to religious concerns (Sawant, 2018). Wind power plants are said to cause noise pollution and destroy the flora and fauna of the land i.e. some residents living near a wind power plant in Canada complained of other health issues in addition to sleep disturbances (Crichton et al., 2014). Geothermal power is thought to have impacted stability of the land, which, as a result, may be a trigger for earthquakes. Likewise, methane emissions make the use of biomass unattractive.

Acceptance of the renewable energy system by the community at large and especially the local community is considered decisive in the success of the system. Which is a major hurdle in the pace of implementing and completing the project. Thus, it is important to know and investigate the factors underlying social barriers (Wolsink, 2010).

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