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  • Writer's pictureLaura Alliss

Clean Living: 5 Alternative Sources Of Energy

Updated: Jun 7

Solar Panels standing in the field

The UK has ambitions to reach net zero by 2050, which is defined as achieving a balance between the levels of greenhouse gases that are being produced and the levels of gases that are being removed from our atmosphere. 


We know that fossil fuels including gas, oil and coal contribute significantly to climate change, accounting for almost 90% of carbon dioxide emissions and more than 75% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. 


Switching to renewable sources of energy is key to achieving net zero, so let’s take a closer look at some of the alternatives available.


An Overview of Alternative Energy Sources 


Renewable sources of energy are self-replenishing and generally have a very low carbon footprint. Below, we’ll take a closer look at those that not only hold great potential for future use but are already transforming industries and infrastructure.


Solar


While sunlight is freely available across the world, levels vary significantly between different geographical areas of the planet, the seasons, and the time of day. Solar power works by capturing light from the sun on carefully positioned solar panels and generates electricity via a physical and chemical reaction which is called the photovoltaic effect. 


Wind 


In the UK, wind is the single largest renewable electricity producer. Wind farms, which can be located both onshore and offshore, generate electricity as the wind turbine blades spin and this kinetic energy is converted into electric energy. 


Biomass


Organic matter, such as food waste and agricultural waste can be burned to generate energy. Carbon dioxide is created during the production of biomass energy, however, it is still viewed as a renewable source of energy because plants will absorb an equal amount of carbon over the course of their lifespan. 


Hydro 


Hydroelectric power is generated using the movement of falling or free-flowing water. Power plants generating hydroelectric energy are generally located near dams and use underwater turbines to power a generator that creates electricity. Tidal power also falls under the hydro category, which uses comparable technology to generate electricity from the force created by our oceans. 


Geothermal


The heat that exists below the surface of the earth is known as geothermal energy. Captured through the use of ground source heat pumps his form of renewable energy is much more important to countries such as Iceland, which has much more geothermal heat than we do here in the UK. 


Benefits for the Environment and the Economy 


Currently, more than 80% of all energy worldwide is generated by fossil fuels. However, renewable sources are gaining larger market shares year on year, and approximately 30% (https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2021/renewables) of all electricity is currently generated by renewable sources. 


All steps towards transitioning to clean energy bring with them a number of benefits, both to our planet and the economy. 


Renewable Sources are Abundant


Many countries globally import fossil fuels, which can cause problems when geopolitical crises and shocks occur. Renewable sources of energy can be accessed everywhere and leveraging this untapped potential will allow countries to protect themselves against unpredictable global events as well as the fluctuations in the cost of fossil fuels.


Renewable Energy Has Numerous Economic Benefits 


Yes, the investment into renewable energy sources is significant, however, research indicates that investing in new technologies and infrastructure now could save up to $4 trillion globally by 2030.


Renewable Energy is More Affordable


As technologies improve, the costs associated with generating renewable energy are falling rapidly. In fact, renewable energy is already the cheapest way to generate energy in most countries globally and could produce 65% of our electricity needs by 2030


Renewable Energy Creates Job Opportunities 


By 2030, it is thought that five million jobs in the fossil fuel sector will be lost. However, 14 million new jobs could be created in the clean energy sector and a further 16 million roles could be created in the low-emissions technologies sector as demand for electric vehicles and efficient appliances grows. 


Green Flare is just one example of a thriving business that aligns with the transition to alternative energy sources, particularly in the solar energy field, with cutting-edge solar technology and solar PV battery solutions. 


Renewable Energy is Better For Our Health 


Research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that 99% of people globally are breathing air that doesn’t adhere to air quality guidelines. Using cleaner energy sources, including solar and wind power, will improve air quality and reduce the number of deaths that occur each year from avoidable environmental causes. 


A Look at the UK’s Energy Landscape 


In Quarter 4 of 2023, renewable energy generation reached a record high, with wind generating more energy than gas Similarly, fossil fuel generation fell during the final quarter of 2023, and was 22% lower than levels recorded at the same time in 2022. 


Across the final quarter of 2023, renewable energy sources were generating 51.5% of all energy in the UK, marking the first time that renewables had secured more than a 50% share. Overall electricity generation was lower during this quarter, however, all renewable energy sources recorded an increase in output, with bioenergy increasing to 12.7% from 9.9% and offshore wind rising from 18.8% to 20.9%.

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