Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development

Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development

Abdeen Mustafa Omer (Energy Research Institute (ERI), UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-138-2.ch003
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The increased availability of reliable and efficient energy services stimulates new development alternatives. This article discusses the potential for such integrated systems in the stationary and portable power market in response to the critical need for a cleaner energy technology. Anticipated patterns of future energy use and consequent environmental impacts (acid precipitation, ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect or global warming) are comprehensively discussed in this chapter. Throughout the theme several issues relating to renewable energies, environment, and sustainable development are examined from both current and future perspectives. It is concluded that green energies like wind, solar, ground-source heat pumps, and biomass must be promoted, implemented, and demonstrated from the economic and/or environmental point view.
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Globally, buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of the total world annual energy consumption. Most of this energy is for the provision of lighting, heating, cooling, and air conditioning. Increasing awareness of the environmental impact of CO2, NOx and CFCs emissions triggered a renewed interest in environmentally friendly cooling, and heating technologies. Under the 1997 Montreal Protocol, governments agreed to phase out chemicals used as refrigerants that have the potential to destroy stratospheric ozone. It was therefore considered desirable to reduce energy consumption and decrease the rate of depletion of world energy reserves and pollution of the environment. One way of reducing building energy consumption is to design buildings, which are more economical in their use of energy for heating, lighting, cooling, ventilation and hot water supply. Passive measures, particularly natural or hybrid ventilation rather than air-conditioning, can dramatically reduce primary energy consumption (Omer, 2009a). However, exploitation of renewable energy in buildings and agricultural greenhouses can, also, significantly contribute towards reducing dependency on fossil fuels. Therefore, promoting innovative renewable applications and reinforcing the renewable energy market will contribute to preservation of the ecosystem by reducing emissions at local and global levels. This will also contribute to the amelioration of environmental conditions by replacing conventional fuels with renewable energies that produce no air pollution or greenhouse gases (during their use). The provision of good indoor environmental quality while achieving energy and cost efficient operation of the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) plants (devices) in buildings represents a multi variant problem (Omer, 2009b). The comfort of building occupants is dependent on many environmental parameters including air speed, temperature, relative humidity and air quality in addition to lighting and noise. The overall objective is to provide a high level of building performance (BP), which can be defined as indoor environmental quality (IEQ), energy efficiency (EE) cost efficiency (CE), and environmental performance (EP).

  • Indoor environmental quality is the perceived condition of comfort that building occupants experience due to the physical and psychological conditions to which they are exposed by their surroundings. The main physical parameters affecting IEQ are air speed, temperature, relative humidity and air quality.

  • Energy efficiency is related to the provision of the desired environmental conditions while consuming the minimal quantity of energy.

  • Cost efficiency is the financial expenditure on energy relative to the level of environmental comfort and productivity that the building occupants attained. The overall cost efficiency can be improved by improving the indoor environmental quality and the energy efficiency of a building.

Several definitions of sustainable development have been put forth, including the following common one: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The World Energy Council (WEC) study found that without any change in our current practice, the world energy demand in 2020 would be 50-80% higher than 1990 levels (WEC, 2009). According to the USA Department of Energy (DoE) report, annual energy demand will increase from a current capacity of 363 million kilowatts to 750 million kilowatts by 2020 (DoE, 2009). The world’s energy consumption today is estimated to 22 billion kWh per year, 53 billion kWh by 2020 (WEC, 2009). Such ever-increasing demand could place significant strain on the current energy infrastructure and potentially damage world environmental health by CO, CO2, SO2, NOx effluent gas emissions and global warming (ASHRAE, 2005). Achieving solutions to environmental problems that we face today requires long-term potential actions for sustainable development. In this regards, renewable energy resources appear to be the one of the most efficient and effective solutions since the intimate relationship between renewable energy and sustainable development. More rational use of energy is an important bridge to help transition from today’s fossil fuel dominated world to a world powered by non-polluting fuels and advanced technologies such as photovoltaics (PVs) and fuel cells (FCs) (Abdeen, 2008a).

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