Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf

What is The Worldwide Geothermal Energy Potential?

Geothermal energy is heat generated and stored in the Earth. It is a fossil-free, environmentally friendly, renewable energy source that is as of today yet a rather untapped potential. The U.S. Department of Energy and the United States Geological Survey USGS estimate that if developed and utilized to its full potential, geothermal energy in the United States alone could provide the whole country with 10% of its required power. According to IRENA, some of the many benefits of geothermal energy also include the facts that geothermal energy can be found all around the world, and that it is available around the year, with less variations than for instance the generation of solar and wind energy. 

Not only is geothermal energy very low in greenhouse gas emissions, making it a valuable source of renewable energy, but with advanced technologies this yet rather untapped source of energy can also contribute to efficient wastewater treatment and management. According to IHA (2018), geothermal energy production has the third lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions after wind onshore and hydropower, with only 38 gCO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour. As a comparison, coal has 820 gCO2 equivalent/kWh. Thus, the development of geothermal energy sector can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

BP Global states that as a mature and well-established source of renewable energy, the overall potential of geothermal power in terms of electricity generation is higher than that of wind and solar energy. Despite its currently tiny share (one percent) of the total global energy mix, the role of geothermal energy is significant in a number of countries. Its power generation grew by 3.6% in 2016, and according to Renewable Energy World, geothermal energy is trending upwards. Orkustofnun, the National Energy Authority of Iceland, states that Iceland is a pioneer when it comes to the use of geothermal energy. Geothermal sources provide Iceland with 66% of the country’s primary energy usage. 

Moreover, for instance in Chile, financial institutions are investing in geothermal energy in order to support the country in reducing its emissions with a target to meet the demands of the Paris Agreement, but also to expand the country ́s energy portfolio. Between 2005 and 2015, the annual growth of geothermal power capacity worldwide averaged at 3.3%. Leading countries in terms of geothermal power capacity in 2016 were the United States, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Iceland, and Japan. (BP 2017; Renewable Energy World 2017).

In its publication “World Energy Resources – Geothermal 2016”, the World Energy Council reveals that El Salvador plans for four tenths of the country’s energy coming from geothermal by 2020. India, on the other hand, has an ambitious goal for geothermal development by 2030. Outright, the total worldwide capacity of geothermal power is forecast to double. The World Energy Council sees that geothermal power development has been slowed down by conservative legislation and a lack of government incentives which, however, could see changes now that countries work towards decarbonizing the energy sector in order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, but also as an effort to diversify energy production and move towards clean(er) sources of power generation. Worthwhile to note, geothermal energy production releases very small amounts of greenhouse gases, and has few impacts upon the environment, allowing for renewable energy agencies to classify it as a renewable energy source. 

Furthermore, the World Energy Council estimates that in order to survive in the 21st century, the geothermal energy sector is obliged to innovate. Despite its many advantages and many countries worldwide having access to geothermal power production, geothermal power production has historically primarily been used by countries that have lacked fossil fuel resources but have a high amount of geothermal energy resources, but also as a means to secure national energy resources as a part of a country’s energy infrastructure, and/or to diversify a country’s energy portfolio. While forecast that developing countries such as Kenya and Indonesia will tap into their abundant geothermal heat resources, advanced clean technologies and growing electrification of markets for instance in Europe will allow the geothermal energy sector to grow its capacity on developed markets as well. 

Geothermal power resources worldwide are estimated to contain 50.000 times more energy than all available oil and gas resources combined, speaking for the immense potential within the geothermal energy sector. The geothermal energy sector could theoretically provide all the energy needed worldwide. In addition to being an environmentally friendly, renewable source of energy worldwide, unlike fossil-fuels such as coal, gas, and oil, advanced geothermal technologies are becoming cost-efficient. Geothermal energy is nor dependent on weather conditions or low in capacity – on the contrary. As of today, depending upon country and region, both access to funding and legislation are potential obstacles in terms of the geothermal energy sector to reach its full potential. (IRENA 2017).

Learn more about the commercial production of geothermal energy by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Geothermal Energy”:

You may also want to read one of my previous articles: Why Is The Worldwide Marine Energy Market In Its Infancy?  

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe toYritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

Why Is The Worldwide Marine Energy Market In Its Infancy?

Our world’s oceans, covering more than 70% of the Earth’s total surface, are an immense source of energy. Despite the fact that the marine ecosystem and environment today are hardly utilized for energy creation, Mørk et al. (2010) evaluated in their study for the IPCC that our oceans and waves alone could theoretically provide double the amount of worldwide electricity supply. Nonetheless, marine hydrokinetic energy (MHK), also called ocean/tidal energy/power, in 2016 provided only about 536 MW of operating energy capacity worldwide. (EMEC Orkney 2017; REN21 2017; World Energy Council 2016).

In its infancy in terms of commercial energy production, marine energy resources are infinite, yet costs are still high and the financial environment and investments into marine energy have been challenging. Nevertheless, significant amounts of research and development projects are now taking place in many countries, with fresh implementations of marine energy devices recently. Majority of these R&D projects target tidal streams and waves, and a smaller proportion on thermal and salinity gradients. According to REN21, Canada, Chile, the Republic of Korea, the United States and a number of countries in Europe now lead projects related to marine energy. 

Along with other renewable energy sources, marine energy could contribute to the diversification of the global energy mix while supporting countries in climate change mitigation and being one option for meeting the world ́s continuously growing energy demand. Moreover, marine energy could have socio-economic benefits in terms of new job creation. The World Energy Council forecasts that if the energy production within the marine energy sector grows to 748 GW by 2050, this would create around 160.000 new jobs by 2030.

The European Commission ́s Maritime Forum, the Ocean Energy Forum, states that ocean energy is the next generation of renewables with the capability of creating a completely new industrial manufacturing sector and a notable export market. The Ocean Energy Forum also forecasts that by 2050, ocean energy could meet 10% of Europe’s electricity demand with a deployment of 100 GW ocean energy on the continent. Government incentives and policies have a significant role in supporting ocean energy projects. Public opinion in Europe has been in favor of ocean energy research and development, and implementation. 

An important socio-economic consideration with ocean energy, similar to wind energy, is energy security since variability is high on an annual and seasonal level, or in some cases, even on an hourly level. Forecasting is currently possible to about one week ahead. According to The World Energy Council, under certain circumstances, ocean energy grids could face enormous pressure and coincide with alternative renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, with a possibility of leading to electricity blackouts if not resolved through energy storage systems. 

Moreover, possible environmental impacts of ocean energy include marine species colliding/interacting with ocean energy devices such as turbines and OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion). Furthermore, taking into consideration that underwater species communicate through sound, noise disturbance from ocean energy devices could have an impact on the behavior of marine species. Another potential risk on the marine environment could be the impact of ocean energy devices on the natural movement of water. Feasible advantages from ocean energy devices could include improved ecological and environmental water quality, reduced air and water pollution, or even attracting marine species as a safe haven and an artificial habitat. 

According to IRENA, cyclical constellations and natural phenomena allow for a high proportion of predictability for tidal range technologies, since marine energy production does not rely upon weather conditions. Despite current challenges, such as high upfront costs and possible impacts upon the environment, many countries worldwide are currently developing technologies aiming at commercializing tidal energy prototypes and sites. One of the benefits of tidal energy is its minimal impact on landscapes, as opposed to for instance wind turbines that despite their low greenhouse gas emission impact on the environment seem to create some opposition amongst population when it comes to their visual impact. A real breakthrough in marine or tidal energy commercialization is currently still facing many challenges, including the fact that costs would have to come down quite significantly in order to make this kind of energy production competitive in comparison with other (renewable) energy sources. Taking into consideration the rapid development within for instance the solar PV energy sector within less than two decades, it is not impossible at all that the marine energy market may experience a breakthrough in the upcoming decade(s). What do you think?  

Learn more by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy”:

Access one of my previous articles here: What is The Current State of The Worldwide Solar Energy Market?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Paulo Valdivieso

What Makes Wind Energy The Fastest Growing Renewable Source of Electricity Worldwide?

Similar to hydropower, which is energy derived from water, wind energy has been utilized for thousands of years, merely with less advanced technologies than the modern inventions we have today. From the Nile River to China, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe, wind as a source of energy was seized until oil and energy prices dropped. It was not until the 1970’s oil crisis that alternative sources of energy, such as wind, started to awaken new interest worldwide. 

Today, according to Wind Energy Foundation, wind energy is the fastest growing source of electricity worldwide, and it is a fossil-free, renewable source of energy. According to the IPCC and IHA, onshore wind energy has the lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of all energy sources, with only 11 gCO2/kWh. To understand the difference, coal has 820 gCO2/kWh. In terms of climate change mitigation, it is essential to drastically reduce the amount of coal energy and seek less polluting alternatives, including wind energy. 

In 2018, 51.3 GW of new wind was installed worldwide, as stated in GWEC ́s Global Wind Report 2018. Since 2014, more than 50 GW of new wind energy has been installed per annum. Worldwide, current onshore wind power capacity with a total of 591 GW (one gigawatt equals one billion watts) covers seven per cent (7%) of total power generation capacity, while its actual total global power generation covered four per cent (4%) in 2015. The leading wind power producing country worldwide today is China with over 200 GW installed capacity, followed by the USA, Germany, India, and Brazil. The top five countries combined have a 75% share of the total worldwide wind energy market. Total installed capacity onshore by world region is largest in the Asia-Pacific, followed by Europe, the Americas, and Africa/The Middle East. Offshore capacity is currently highest in Europe. 

According to the World Energy Council, current policy plans could allow for wind power capacity to grow from roughly 487 GW in 2016 to 977 GW by 2030. In China alone, wind power could provide 26% of all electricity by 2030. With the vast majority of wind power turbines onshore, worldwide investments in the sector are booming and hit USD 109.6 billion already in 2015. In many countries today, onshore wind is the most inexpensive source of renewable energy, with costs falling rapidly and significantly. 

With a fast and credible growth track record, the wind power industry is regarded as a low-risk investment, with financial institutions increasingly much competing about the funding of wind projects. Possible risks to wind project investments include policy uncertainty and long operational lifetimes. In terms of rapidly growing power demand and distribution challenges, wind is a cost-effective option according to GWEC. The market outlook up to 2023 projects an average annual increase of 2,7 per cent in the wind energy market.  

Both IRENA, GWEC, and the World Energy Council admit that there are multiple benefits from a growing renewable energy, including wind power, sector. Not only do renewable energy sources support socio-economic growth through the generation of new jobs that accelerates economic growth, but also supports the decarbonization of the global energy sector, thus leading to less pollution and improved environmental and human well-being. Investments and growth in the renewable energy sector overall are estimated to create millions of new jobs worldwide. 

As defined by the World Energy Council and the Global Wind Energy Council, wind power is leading the energy market in its transition away from fossil fuels on both performance, reliability and costs. Despite some of its harms on the environment and ecological impacts, such as wildlife colliding with wind turbines and possible public health concerns through noise and visual impacts on people, wind power is known to be an environmentally friendly source of renewable energy, with a small land footprint, low water requirements and low greenhouse gas emissions. Denmark remains the world’s leading country in terms of integration, production, and R&D of wind energy. In 2018 alone, Danish wind turbines generated 40.7% of the Danish electricity consumption. Quite impressive, or what do you think? 

Your comments/thoughts are welcome! 

Learn more by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Wind Turbines”:

You may also want to read one of my previous articles: What is the Outlook for the Global Hydropower Sector?  

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles, delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

How Safe is The Production of Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is being classified as a renewable energy source which is regarded as an option to replace fossil fuels: coal, gas, and oil. According to the World Nuclear Association there are currently 450 nuclear power reactors commercially operating in 31 countries worldwide, providing an estimated 10% of our world ́s electricity. Despite being classified as a fossil-free source of energy, the World Nuclear Association states that there is a need to replace some of the oldest nuclear reactors worldwide, especially those that are coal-fired and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere. (World Nuclear Association 2017).

In IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2017, the International Energy Agency has a Sustainable Development Scenario for 2040 with forecasts where power generation has not been decarbonized despite the increase of low-carbon sources accounting for 40% of the total energy mix in 2040, and the worldwide usage of nuclear energy growing to 15% of the worldwide energy market. (International Energy Agency 2017). OPEC, in its World Oil Outlook 2040, estimates an annual growth rate of 2.3% for nuclear energy between 2015-2040. For more detailed information, see the table “World primary energy demand by fuel type” below.

World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type growth p.a. 2015-2040

With currently 12 countries getting around 25% of their electricity from nuclear power, France leads the statistics with 75% of its electricity coming from nuclear power. Beyond nuclear-friendly France, these countries are Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine (more than 50% nuclear energy), Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland (⅓ or more from nuclear power), Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, USA (around 20% from nuclear power), and Japan with around 25% of its electricity currently from nuclear power. Even some countries with no nuclear power plants, for instance Denmark and Italy, today depend to some extent upon nuclear energy. (World Nuclear Association 2019).

While the IEA forecasts that the share of nuclear energy on the worldwide market will grow to 15% of the total energy mix by 2040, OPEC estimates that nuclear energy will account for 6.4% of total world primary energy demand in 2040.  See table “World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type” below.

World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type OPEC

The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, an autonomous organization under the UN established in 1957, works towards the strengthening of nuclear security worldwide, including the prevention of nuclear weapons and supporting countries in maintaining a peaceful, safe and secure usage of nuclear technology and science. Director General of IAEA, Yukiya Amano, states that nuclear energy, as one of the lowest-carbon technologies, helps countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. While at first requiring large capital investments, nuclear power plants are known to be cost efficient. Moreover, as expressed by the IAEA, the new generation of nuclear reactors are constructed with improved performance, reliability and safety.

Learn more by watching WhatTheWhy ́s video “Nuclear Energy Explained: Risk or Opportunity”:

Nuclear Energy Explained: Risk or Opportunity?

How safe are nuclear power plants and nuclear power? Despite being classified as a renewable source of energy, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste pose a number of risks both to human beings, animals and our environment. In the case of an emergency and a nuclear plant accident (see for instance Tchernobyl or Fukushima), nuclear reactors can cause chemical explosions and release dangerous radioactive material. Even when normally functioning, nuclear power plants cause radioactive waste that has to be gotten rid of in some way. The solution for this has traditionally been to bury nuclear waste in deep geological repositories. (Harvard University 2016. Reconsidering the Risks of Nuclear Power). 

While some countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, and Switzerland) have completely abandoned or are about to completely abandon nuclear power plants and the usage of nuclear power, other countries continue to rely quite heavily on nuclear energy. 

What are your thoughts about nuclear energy, the risks and safety of nuclear power (plants)? 

You may also be interested in reading one of my previous articles: What Is  The Future of The Worldwide Natural Gas Market?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Anne-Maria Yritys to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

Why Should You Have to Protect The Environment

Why Should You Have to Protect The Environment?

Repeat after me:

I do not want to protect the environment. I want us to create a world where the environment needs no protection. Anne-Maria Yritys

Why should you even have to protect the environment? Would it not be much easier to create a world where the environment needs no protection?

How can this be achieved in a world where man leaves a heavy footprint wherever he goes?

In brief: to create an economically more sustainable future for ourselves and for future generations, we must focus upon developing following sectors:

  1. Transition away from polluting and environmentally damaging fossil fuels and sources of energy that involve serious risks for both the environment and overall health => renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean energy, solar energy and wind energy. The global energy sector is the main reason for human-caused climate change and global warming.
  2. Development of cleantech, including the previously mentioned energy sector.
  3. Circular economies, including recycling and drastic reduction of produced waste.
  4. Sustainable agriculture, farming, and fishing practices.
  5. Education => slowing down population growth.
  6. Legislation and taxation that supports sustainable economic development.

Contact me directly for further discussion.

Anne-Maria Yritys May 29th 2019.

 

 

Why We Are Not Taking Climate Action Fast Enough

During my studies/research on climate and environmental topics from a wide variety of angles since several years back, I have noticed how much progress has been made around the world in terms of environmental protection, and concrete climate action.

With climate change deniers, resistants, apathetic individuals and those who talk the talk without actually walking their talk, our world has plenty of individuals who actually are fully dedicated in their everyday lives to tackling both climate change and environmental destruction. These individuals take action in their personal lives, create businesses and contribute to/make significant political decisions in terms of protecting our local/global environment without which things could look much worse than they actually are today.

In terms of communicating climate and environment-related topics local and global journalism/media play a significant role; how else would the crowd be informed about any development that is taking place? Well-informed citizens of any country, or people who dig deep into specific topics out of personal or business interest of course know how to search for information through a wide variety of sources, which today is even more simple than ever thanks to the Internet and people around the world having public access to information and reports, many times for free.

Nevertheless, and despite important political decisions and legislative changes in terms of environmental protection, journalism and media have a huge responsibility and lots of power when it comes to bringing public awareness about specific issues, climate change and environmental protection. Anthropogenic climate change and environmental protection are both no new topics.

Those with longer life experience and more years behind them know that specific climate/environmental issues have been discussed for several decades. In recent years, however, there has been a significant increase in climate change and environmental topics brought up by various media outlets. Since the Paris Agreement was signed on April 22nd 2016, most countries on our planet have actually pledged to concrete climate action; some countries with more ambition than others.

The main goal of the Paris Agreement is for all countries that have signed (and ratified) the agreement to take concrete actions in order to stop global warming and to prevent global average temperatures from rising above 1,5 degrees Celsius (34,7 Fahrenheit), since research indicates that even slight increases in global (or regional) average temperatures can and will lead to drastic changes worldwide in terms of for instance food security. The purpose of the Paris Agreement is also to ensure that countries take all possible action to reduce GHG ́s (greenhouse gas emissions), which are found to be increasing the global average temperatures through the warming effect that these create.

The question is, however: Do We Take Climate Action Fast Enough?

In the global energy sector, renewable energy sources (excluding nuclear energy), today account for 25,6 % of the total global energy sector, a vast majority of which comes from hydropower (15,9 %). (IHA 2019). Despite the growing capacity of renewable energy sources worldwide in recent years, energy-heavy sectors such as cooling, heating and transport lag behind and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind today account for 2,1 % respectively 4,6 % of total global energy. (IHA 2019; REN21 2018).

Climate marches and school strikes on behalf of climate action and environmental protection that gather millions of people together around the world of course bring an important message and put increasingly much pressure on both educational institutions and schools, businesses in all industries, and governments/politicians, but the focal point here is to focus upon concrete action, which can be taken on various levels throughout societies: in our personal lives, in businesses, and in terms of legislation.

It is comforting to notice that despite of certain climate change resistance or complete ignorance even among world leaders, major cities around the world and in countries such as the U.S. are committed to taking action and concrete measures to either eliminate or reduce their carbon emissions, including for instance New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Furthermore, research and reports published by IRENA and OPEC reveal how even traditional oil-drilling/oil-producing regions invest into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Nevertheless, with a rapid population growth globally and a continuous increase in energy consumption worldwide, environmentally more sustainable solutions are much needed to keep up with the current development in order to meet the demands of the Paris Agreement which aims not only to protect, but in fact to save our planet Earth from complete destruction.

Anne-Maria Yritys 13.5.2019

 

What Is Climate Change Mitigation?

Global Climate Change (42).jpg

“EC. Climate Change Key Terms. Climate change mitigation = Action to reduce the net amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, and thus help to slow down the process of climate change resulting from human activities.”

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Note from author: Since repetition is the mother of all learning, it is good to remain an eternal student and have an open-mind regarding just about anything. Many things, such as climate change terminology, may seem ordinary, but it is important to understand the very basic issues in order to increase one´s comprehension about an important matter. Even better: if and when you take the time not only to learn new things, but also teach your knowledge to others, you can rest assured that you will personally benefit and learn as well. We learn 95 % of the things we teach others, which is why everyone should not only be a life-long learner but also a teacher whenever possible.

As a repetition, the term climate change mitigation refers to decreasing the net amount of greenhouse gases released through human activities into our atmosphere. Climate and environmental research indicates the amount of polluting greenhouse gases that we release into Earth´s atmosphere through human activities, such as agriculture/farming, transportation/traffic, and all human consumption. To combat this development, businesses and countries now increasingly much invest into clean technologies, such as renewable energy sources, including solar energy. To remove the impact of human-caused greenhouse gases in Earth´s atmosphere, it is necessary for all of us to change our consumption habits, and the way we conduct business, into (more) sustainable solutions.

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys – for climate-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank & to receive my newsletter delivered personally to you, do subscribe to Leading With Passion