The issue of climate change is, at its core, an energy production issue. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and heat accounts for a significant portion of the greenhouse gases that cover the Earth and trap the sun’s heat.
The anticipated growth of the use of renewable energy worldwide is enough for us to claim that green energy is the future. The International Energy Association predicts that by 2024, renewable energy resources will account for 30% of the world’s electricity, compared to 26% presently. This resurgence comes after a global slowdown in 2019 brought on by rising environmental concerns and falling technology costs.
Green Energy Definition
So, what is green energy? Any energy from natural resources like water, wind, or sunlight is considered green energy. Although there are some distinctions between green and renewable energy, they typically come from renewable energy sources. The fact that these energy sources don’t harm the environment by releasing greenhouse gases is crucial.
Green energy examples
Hydroelectric power (including tidal energy, which makes use of ocean energy from sea tides) and solar power are the primary sources. Solar and wind power can be produced on a smaller scale at people’s homes or on a larger scale at an industrial facility.
The following are the six most prevalent types:
- Solar power
- Wind power
- Geothermal energy
Is the world moving towards green energy?
According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, the global energy crisis is driving a sharp acceleration in the installation of renewable power. Total worldwide capacity is expected to almost double in the next five years, surpassing coal as the largest source of electricity generation and contributing to the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Over the next five years, renewable energies are expected to account for over 90% of global electricity growth, surpassing coal as the largest source of electricity by early 2025. This significant increase is 30% higher than predicted just a year ago. This shows how quickly governments have put more weight into renewable energy policies.
Green energy for a carbon-neutral ecosystem
One of the most significant problems in the manufacturing sector is carbon emissions. Governments and producers tried to mitigate it through several initiatives such as installing green technology subsidies and increasing investments in green energy.
Creating a balance between emitting and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks is known as carbon neutrality. Carbon sinks are defined as any systems that absorb more carbon than they emit. Examples of carbon sinks include soil, forests, and oceans. Presently, no artificial carbon sinks have the capacity to remove carbon from our atmosphere in the challenge of global warming.
Some studies have claimed that achieving carbon neutrality reduces CO2 emissions. Continuous accounting of CO2 reduction technologies, energy from renewable sources, and varying levels of urban development contribute to carbon neutrality.
Renewable energy in petrochemicals
Petrochemicals made from oil and natural gas are essential to renewable energy. Many people in the United States are turning to solar power to meet their energy needs because of the rising demand for renewable energy. However, most people must be aware that chemicals derived from fossil fuels are necessary for harnessing solar energy.
Chemical and petrochemical manufacturing
Petrochemicals are chemical substances derived essentially from hydrocarbons that are obtained from crude oil and natural gas. Through the distillation of crude oil and petroleum gases, petrochemical derivatives such as ethylene, propylene, and benzene are created and used as raw materials to manufacture most of our daily necessities.
Can petrochemicals play a role in a green future?
Although it is anticipated that the demand for petrochemicals will continue to rise, several potential solutions have the potential to help lessen the impact on the environment that their production and use have.
Petrochemical industry leaders like Anchorage Investments, an Egyptian company considered a leader in the petrochemical industry in Egypt, strive to operate with the most negligible negative impact on the environment. Through sustainable management and green technology, the group consistently delivers sustainable business projects, notably through their upcoming Anchor Benitoite petrochemical facility.
What will replace petrochemicals?
Developments for biodegradable plastics are currently in progress to replace petrochemical-based plastics. These plastics aim to use plants to degrade in the proper environmental conditions instantly. Certain petrochemicals are used in producing emitters of renewable energy, such as solar panels; however, their alternatives exist and include solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and nuclear power.
Solar panels and petrochemicals
There are five layers in the typical solar panel: glass, EVA, electricity-generating cell, EVA, and a polyester film-based backsheet. Polyisobutylene is another product made from petrochemicals that are used to seal the edges of glass and silicon structures, and polyurethane is used to secure the PV and solar panel frames.
What petrochemicals are used in solar panels?
Silicon layers in photovoltaic devices convert solar radiation into direct current electricity. To make a sunlight-powered charger, the silicon layers are in the middle of between two boards, frequently produced using the copolymer ethylene-vinyl acetic acid derivation (produced using the base petrochemical ethylene).
Can you make solar panels without fossil fuels?
While the main ingredient for solar panels’ photovoltaic parts is coal, there is a possible way to build solar panels without fossil fuels. This possibility lies in using thin-film solar cells made from cadmium telluride or copper indium selenide. Their production is less energy-intensive than silicon-based cells, and they have a smaller carbon footprint. The issue with these cells is that they are not as efficient in converting sunlight into electricity.
Why can’t solar energy replace fossil fuels?
In contrast to fossil fuels, wind and solar power can only produce electricity when the wind blows, or the sun shines. Because the power grid operates in real-time, this presents an engineering challenge. To maintain system equilibrium, power is generated and consumed simultaneously.
Additionally, it is challenging to have renewable energy without fossil fuels. Certain materials obtained from petrochemicals are critical to producing solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries.
In conclusion, the current state of the environment globally has driven governments to adopt more eco-friendly energy-producing methods. While that may be effective, quitting fossil fuels entirely is challenging.