- Fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal),
- Renewable sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal, hydro power, etc.),
- Bioenergy (mainly biomass and biofuels),
- Nuclear Energy,
- Other novel sources (like hydrogen, etc).
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Imagine the solution lying just under your feet
Mankind nowadays faces the challenge of finding balance between the economic growth, finding new ways of promoting concept of energy security as well as mitigating ever deepening climate change. Finding solution reflects various factors; from the level of technological research and development, through financial resources and commercial viability, to long-term visions and goals.
Current policy making is green oriented. Low-carbon technologies as well as clean ones are the key technologies for the future, no question about it. A lot of public sources and much attention have been allocated to them. In matter of this, in an very simplified way, the public discussion is focused heavily on issue of bioenergy, renewables and some clean technologies linked to fossil sources of energy like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or Clean Coal Technology.
In general, one can divide energy sources into five basic categories:
What source of energy is the most appropriate solution for challenge mentioned above? The answer cannot be clear and unambiguous. Each type of source is suitable if various categories are taken into consideration.
Fossil fuels have the longest tradition, they are wide-spread and common. The majority of energy installations and devices have been designed for using them. On the other hand, it is typical for them to leave tough carbon footprint. At the same time, oil and natural gas are sources, which are located on the Earth very unequally. Practically, all strategic reserves are located in region under authority of undemocratic, unstable or even failing states. Altogether, this causes the problem for the concept of energy security itself. One can object that the reserves of coal and lignite are spaced more or less equally in all states all over the world. Yes, that is true, but incineration of coal is not just the best solution if we try to fight and mitigate climate change. There is the basic question, if coal sometime in the future could become the clean source of energy. CCS Technology is promising one, but it needs to be advanced in order to would be used commercially effective. At the same time, CCS would not remove the problem itself, it is just an approach how to tackle huge CO2 footprint.
Regarding CO2 emissions, promoting bioenergy, even though it is part of European mainstream at this time, is not just the best solution as well. It has prefix „bio-“, but „bio-“ does not necessarily mean „green“. Biofuels of first generation are not very effective in matter of agricultural fields' area requirements as well as in matter of CO2 production linked to growing technical plants on a large scale. Biomass can be cheaper and viable energy solution for single households, but its potential is much smaller if we talk about total energy consumption in general.
Nuclear power is shadowed by bad experience from the past, resistance of green activists and movements and, at the same time, by political controversy in general. Nuclear becomes the big issue in public debate again, but even if it reached broader support, it would not be about to become any dominant energy source in very short term.
Well, Renewables seem to be the most appropriate answer for challenge we face today. In practical terms, they caused no CO2 emissions in phase of energy production. Renewable energy technologies can be installed everywhere, but according to level of current technological development, the choice of concrete energy source depends on weather and geological conditions and realities of each country. For instance, states in Southern European have bigger solar potential than Austria with huge hydro power potential or Slovakia with biomass or geothermal one. Indeed, one has to think about limitations. Wind energy is usable just in windy times or during the days with windy weather. Solar is relevant only if the sun is on the sky, not during nights. Hydro power plants are not energy facilities with the highest performance.
If one still thinks that Renewables are the most appropriate energy source of the future, which type of them is the most suitable? Any renewable source would have not been a good solution, until it would provide permanent performance - 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. We are not able to make sun to shine all the day, it is not in our responsibility to ask weather to be always windy as well.
But what about the situation, if we would be able to bring geothermal power anywhere, on every side and corner on the Earth? Imagine the future, where the best energy solution would lie just under your feet. And it has been lying there since the Earth arose. That is the reality and now it is up to us to approach it reasonably and transform this knowledge into our profit.
„Geothermania“ is dedicated to technologies of the future, that would allow us to drill deeply, to come enough close to geothermal energy and Earth's potential - really ANYWHERE.