Thank you for meeting up so soon, especially considering how recent our last meeting was. I cannot but reflect on how joyous our ‘little affair’ with mother earth ended over the decreasing concentration of atmospheric pollutants in our cities. I could not be any gladder! Whilst we reflect on this good news, and await resumption to ‘business as usual’, there is one more agenda I wish we could pursue together.
Consider being on a jury of a case where one is found guilty without sending the fellow to serve some term or any punishment; it would simply portray the scenario of pouring water into a basket: your guess is a s good as mine. The adoption of this analogy is to remind us of how ‘important’ the use of fossil fuel has been in increasing atmospheric pollution over the years. Should we just sit and do nothing? – a fair question for us all. Not appreciating its contribution to global development and revolutions would be a trial to say; the least fair. However, I guess it is important we ask ourselves if going the fossil way is the only way.
My discourse today focuses on the alternative forms of energy: a topic which to some may be novel and to others, a reminder. I am pursing this agenda due to energy’s inevitable role in the economic growth, progress, and development, as well as poverty eradication and security of any nation, hence: making accessibility to affordable and clean energy a necessity for all. In its basic form, alternative energy describes the form of energy produced or generated in a way that does not exhaust natural resources or cause damage to the environment.
Consider the sun that shines for long hours daily: helping in drying harvested products like cocoa and the clothes we wash. The heat from the sun is sometimes as intense as could heat a bucket of water when exposed to it and can burn a paper when concentrated through a glass. With these amazing potentials, the sun’s energy has been harnessed to produce light, heat and electricity and is described as the most abundant and renewable energy source. This form of energy is referred to as: solar energy.
- Doesn’t cause pollution
- Can be used in remote areas
- Solar energy is infinite (will last forever)
- Many things can run using solar power
- Require little maintenance
- Can only be harnessed in daylight
- Relatively expensive to make
- Unreliable climate means unreliable source of energy
The most efficient solar panels can only convert 20% of sun’s energy
I have always admired how kites fly and other seemingly lighter objects fly in the sky when the air blows. For anyone who pays some attention, you notice that the wind helps carry these objects from one place to the other. I have even imagined sometimes the wind carrying some human beings away-lol. In essence, it is evident that the wind has the ability to do some work and hence can be said to be a source of energy. Wind energy as it is commonly known can be used to generate electricity as has been seen in some countries (see figure 2). Nevertheless, despite its ability to run during the day and night, produce no greenhouse gases and can be placed anywhere, the strength of wind varies, the power stations are loud, they take up a lot of space and produce less energy compared to fossil fuels.
Have you also ever wondered what could be done with the organic waste from our kitchens and other activities? Most of us simply dispose them to the waste collection sites or on the bare lands. What if I told you that: what we refer to as waste has seen in recent years; its usage in the production of biogas, liquid biofuels and solid biomass: forms of energy that makes up bioenergy. The organic materials used in the production of bioenergy is referred to as biomass (see figure 3). This form of energy is renewable, produces less greenhouse gases and low levels of pollution. However, it is quite expensive and harder to make.
As we deliberate on the alternative forms of energy, one of the energy forms that has stood the test of time is hydroelectric energy or hydroelectric power. It is one of the earliest form of energy that employs the power of water in motion. Most of the hydroelectric power is derived from the potential energy of dammed water (figure 4) turning a water turbine and a generator. Hydroelectric energy accounted for 70% of all renewable energy in 2015 and it is expected to increase in the next 25 years. This is due to its reliability and efficiency, cleanness and flexibility when it comes to electricity demands. There are however worries about the cost in construction, dam failure and community impacts especially during the construction of the dam.
At this juncture, I would like to pause for us to reflect on the following: Are there any other forms of energy you know which are not discussed here? Can you list some of them? How can some of these forms of energy be localized to help people who are in developing communities take advantage of them and contribute their quota to making the earth cleaner and better?
I will be very happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
Thank you for the audience. It has always been a pleasure coming your way!
Your brother in the green struggle