How Sustainable is Renewable Energy?
Fossil fuels have served mankind for over several years. They have made our life simple as we can always have whatever we want and whenever we want. The big question that stands now if how far these fossil fuels can be used considering the fact that they are going to vanish soon from our lives. Moreover, some serious environmental problems related to global warming and climate change have made people aware of the brutal consequences that they may have to face if a switch to green and clean energy is not made sooner. This led to use of alternative or renewable energy sources.
Huge investments were made by different countries for development of wind farms, solar farms, dams along the rivers and tidal power stations. No doubt, dependency on fossil fuels has been reduced to some extent but it may take almost another decade to reduce our dependency to a considerable extent. Many times this fact is ignored and it has a tendency of people leaning towards fossil fuels. The fact is that fossil fuels cannot meet the world’s need for energy. It is something that if the world continues to depend more on will leave to irreparable consequences environmental and its consequences are too great to be ignored.
Renewable energy projects require huge capital and so far have produced only small amount of world’s energy consumption. As said earlier, it will take almost a decade and some positive steps so that renewable energy has a major share in total energy output. Currently, this looks to be impossible as increasing cost of raw material, complex machinery and increasing cost of fossil fuels have slowed down the pace at which these renewable energy projects were to take off.
The cost of fossil fuels, which are non-renewable energy source, is also included in generation of power through sources as large amount of energy is required to install, operate and maintain these huge power plants. Without them, these projects can never be built or maintained.
The components and raw materials used in these projects are designed and manufactured in fossil fuelled factories and finished products are then transported to the power station by means of road or rail network. The large workforce that would be working there use vehicles like cars to travel to their workplace. Trucks loaded with big machines like earthmovers and turbines, small and complex components, generators, transformers, power cables and blades can be seen outside any such power station.
Since these plants are located in remote areas, top notch people can be seen visiting these farms in their personal choppers. The point is that these projects many not be using fossil fuels directly but there are several indirect ways where enormous amount of fossil fuels are used to keep these renewable projects in working condition.
Once the solar power plant, hydropower plant or wind farm is installed and commissioned, low amount of fossil fuel is required to perform maintenance, repair, adjust, replace or reset various spare parts. Here, continuous maintenance is required till the time that plant or farm is producing energy. If any major failure occurs due to failure of gearbox, turbines, transformer, generator, wind blade, solar panels or due to any natural calamity; the amount of fossil fuel used will be increased as it would require engineers to travel to the remote site and replace or repair the faulty component.
In short, renewable energy is here to stay but the ongoing projects that are operating in remote areas and needs frequently maintenance might suffer due to decline in oil supply in future. The components used to make up these plants should be more long lived before they become unrepairable.