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Renewable Energy Could Provide 80% of Global Energy by 2050

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According to the latest United Nations report, nearly 80% of the global energy supply could be met by renewable energy by 2050 if backed by the correct public policies. The six renewable energy technologies reviewed include bioenergy, solar, power, geothermal power, hydropower, ocean energy, and wind energy, with more than 160 existing scientific use cases evaluated.

There is more information in the report than we could share here, but there are some interesting and relevant insights that for those interested in biomass energy:

  • Most current bioenergy systems, including advanced liquid biofuels, result in GHG emission reductions.
  • The sustainability of bioenergy, in particular in terms of life cycle GHG emissions, is influenced by land and biomass resource management practices.
  • Modern biomass, wind and direct solar currently make up the largest contributions of renewable energy technologies to the energy system and biomass will continue to play a central role through 2050.

The report’s findings are summarized in the “Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.” The report summarizes a thousand-page comprehensive assessment compiled by more than 120 leading experts from all over the world for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC).

Energy Use in the Military

In a recent blog post covered by The Daily Energy Report, Sohbet Karbuz writes about the energy consumption in the US military. He shares some interesting facts from his research which shed light on the hidden costs of our armed forces.

In 2009, the Department of Defense consumed 932 trillion BTUs of energy. This equates to 2 percent of the US energy consumption and more than 93 percent of government energy use. If they were a nation, they would be the 36th largest consumer of energy. However, less than half of oil consumption is in the continental United States. Looking deeper into our area of interest, space heating,  the military consumes over 200 trillion BTUs of energy in buildings annually.

The military is acutely aware of these figures and while they comprise less than 2 percent of the Defense Department budget, the Defense Secretary has identified energy as one of the department’s top 25 priorities. The DoD is already a leader in a number of alternative energy areas and continues to search for alternatives so that it can reduce its reliance on oil and improve our energy security.

For more information about this topic visit the post here.

The Energy Cocktail: Powering a Nation

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has developed an edutainment web application that allows you to be in control of the United States energy. The goal of the game is to rework the U.S. energy portfolio to double the energy production in the United while decreasing the total carbon emissions.

Try the Energy Cocktail to see if you can produce enough energy to power America while balancing carbon emissions and costs.

Click to Play the Energy Cocktail

Based on my trial and error — to keep costs in check, and provide adequate production, nuclear and biomass energy are integral to the solution. Let me know what you discover.

The Anti-Sunscreen

If you are into solar energy, there is some good news on the horizon. According to research by a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, embedding a small amount of selenium into a mostly zinc-oxide base, dramatically boosts the material’s efficiency in absorbing light.

Currently the cost and performance of many photo-voltaic systems is prohibitive for the average consumer. However, with advances in technology, like the addition of selenium, we might be one step closer to a cost-effective and efficient method for converting solar energy into usable electricity.

So what do we do until products with these technologies are available?

While not a perfect solution, mother nature provides us her own renewable solar energy bank — trees. Trees harvest the sun’s energy and store it which can then be converted to usable energy through a variety of means. While it does not address the need for electricity directly, it may provide an offset to electrical consumption until solar technologies advance to an affordable level.

For more information on advances in solar energy technology please visit here.

Special thanks to Rosalind for passing along the idea for this post!

Are Renewable Energy Sources Green?

“The giant oil companies, when left to their own devices, will treat even the most magnificent of nature’s wonders like a sewer,” writes Bob Herbert in his New York Times editorial “Disaster in the Amazon.”He concludes, “The riches to be made are so vastly corrupting, that governments refuse to impose the kinds of oversight and safeguards that would mitigate the damage to the environment and its human and animal inhabitants.”

It strikes me that this characterization holds an underlying truth about energy production in general, including green technologies – not even solar power is exempt. Over the past five years, the price surge for polysilicon–the building block for the sunlight capturing wafers used in solar power–led to catastrophic environmental impacts at production sites in China, the largest supplier of solar panels to North America and the world. As this situation illustrates, without life-cycle transparency ‘clean energy’ can be very dirty.

With transparency, significant gains over traditional fuels can be achieved. An insightful study, Emissions from Solar Photovoltaic Life Cycles,led by the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory found that, when well regulated, producing electricity from solar cells reduces air pollutants by up to 90 percent in comparison to using conventional fossil fuel technologies.

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