Renewable Energy Technologies, Sustainable Development, and Environment

Renewable Energy Technologies, Sustainable Development, and Environment

Abdeen Mustafa Omer (Energy Research Institute (ERI), UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 35
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8433-1.ch008
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The move towards a low-carbon world, driven partly by climate science and partly by the business opportunities it offers, will need the promotion of environmentally friendly alternatives, if an acceptable stabilisation level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is to be achieved. This chapter presents a comprehensive review of energy sources, and the development of sustainable technologies to explore these energy sources. It also includes potential renewable energy technologies, efficient energy systems, energy savings techniques and other mitigation measures necessary to reduce climate changes. The chapter concludes with the technical status of the ground source heat pumps (GSHP) technologies. The purpose of this study, however, is to examine the means of reduction of energy consumption in buildings, identify GSHPs as an environmental friendly technology able to provide efficient utilisation of energy in the buildings sector.
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Energy Sources And Use

Scientifically, it is difficult to predict the relationship between global temperature and greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. The climate system contains many processes that will change if warming occurs. Critical processes include heat transfer by winds and tides, the hydrological cycle involving evaporation, precipitation, runoff and groundwater and the formation of clouds, snow, and ice, all of which display enormous natural variability. The equipment and infrastructure for energy supply and use are designed with long lifetimes, and the premature turnover of capital stock involves significant costs. Economic benefits occur if capital stock is replaced with more efficient equipment in step with its normal replacement cycle. Likewise, if opportunities to reduce future emissions are taken in a timely manner, they should be less costly. Such a flexible approach would allow society to take account of evolving scientific and technological knowledge, while gaining experience in designing policies to address climate change (Morrow, 2012).

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 (Morrow, 2012) committed itself to ‘‘encourage and promote the development of renewable energy sources to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production’’. Accordingly, it aimed at breaking the link between resource use and productivity. This can be achieved by the following:

  • Trying to ensure economic growth does not cause environmental pollution.

  • Improving resource efficiency.

  • Examining the whole life-cycle of a product.

  • Enabling consumers to receive more information on products and services.

  • Examining how taxes, voluntary agreements, subsidies, regulation and information campaigns, can best stimulate innovation and investment to provide cleaner technology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Geothermal Energy: Geothermal power (from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. This geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. Heat transferred from the earth's molten core to under-ground deposits of dry steam (steam with no water droplets), wet steam (a mixture of steam and water droplets), hot water, or rocks lying fairly close to the earth's surface.

Resource Management: Efficient incident management requires a system for identifying available resources at all jurisdictional levels to enable timely and unimpeded access to resources needed to prepare for, respond to, or recover from an incident. Resource management is the efficient and effective deployment for an organisation's resources when they are needed. Such resources may include financial resources, inventory, human skills, production resources, or information technology (IT).

Hydropower: Hydropower, hydraulic power or waterpower is power that is derived from the force or energy of moving water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. Hydropower is using water to power machinery or make electricity. Water constantly moves through a vast global cycle, evaporating from lakes and oceans, forming clouds, precipitating as rain or snow, and then flowing back down to the ocean.

Environment: The natural environment, commonly referred to simply as the environment, encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. The biophysical environment is the symbiosis between the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables that comprise the Earth's biosphere.

Solar Energy: Energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy; “the amount of energy falling on the earth is given by the solar constant, but very little use has been made of solar energy”. Energy derived ultimately from the sun. It can be divided into direct and indirect categories. Most energy sources on Earth are forms of indirect solar energy, although we usually do not think of them in that way. Solar energy uses semiconductor material to convert sunlight into electric currents. Although solar energy only provides 0.15% of the world's power and less than 1% of USA energy, experts believe that sunlight has the potential to supply 5,000 times, as much energy as the world currently consumes.

Sustainable Development: Development, which seeks to produce sustainable economic growth, while ensuring future generations' ability to do the same by not exceeding the regenerative capacity of the nature. In other words, it is trying to protect the environment. A process of change in which the resources consumed (both social and ecological) are not depleted to the extent that they cannot be replicated. Environmentally friendly forms of economic growth activities (agriculture, logging, manufacturing, etc.) that allow the continued production of a commodity without damage to the ecosystem (soil, water supplies, biodiversity or other surrounding resources).

Greenhouse Gases: Greenhouse gases are gases in an atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The main greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Changes in the concentration of certain greenhouse gases, due to human activity such as fossil fuel burning, increase the risk of global climate change.

Renewable Energy: Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). Energy obtained from sources that are essentially inexhaustible (unlike, for example the fossil fuels, of which there is a finite supply). Energy sources that are, within a short time frame relative to the Earth's natural cycles, sustainable, and include non-carbon technologies such as solar energy, hydropower, and wind, as well as carbon-neutral technologies.

Biomass Energy: The energy embodied in organic matter (“biomass”) that is released when chemical bonds are broken by microbial digestion, combustion, or decomposition. Biofuels are a wide range of fuels, which are in some way derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Biofuels are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes and the need for increased energy security.

Wind Energy: Kinetic energy present in wind motion that can be converted to mechanical energy for driving pumps, mills, and electric power generators. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, wind mills for mechanical power, wind pumps for pumping water or drainage, or sails to propel ships.

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