Due to their comparatively low cost, fossil fuels have traditionally been the primary energy source in the energy sector. But as our need for energy is expected to increase, we can no longer rely on depleting, polluting energy sources. On a local as well as a global scale, the last ten years have seen a significant movement in favor of increasing our capacity for renewable energy.

The primary alternative energy technologies that will meet our future energy needs are solar panels, on- and offshore wind turbines, and hydroelectricity. The biggest contributor to environmental harm is our reliance on natural gas and oil, which accounts for 1.7% of the increase in carbon dioxide gases in our atmosphere in the energy sector alone. In order to stop additional effects of climate change on our world, alternative energy sources will be the key focus in the future.

Global renewable power capacity in 2019 reached 2,351 GW, according to IRENA's annual Renewable Capacity Statistics. The top three sources of alternative energy are as follows:

  • 1,172 GW, or roughly half of the total, are accounted for by hydropower.

  • Wind energy from both onshore and offshore comes in second with 564 GW.

  • The combined capacity of solar thermal and photovoltaic energy is 480 GW, which is slightly less than the total capacity of solar energy.

Infographic Alternative Energy Sources

By 2023, every industry is expected to increase its use of alternative energy sources. With a 30% market share, the power sector is the largest. As the world moves toward DE carbonization, electricity will replace other forms of transportation as the primary source of energy.

Transportation comes in lowest with only 3.8% of alternative energy sources, and heating comes in second with 12%.

UtilityKing demonstrates the scale of alternative energy sources both now and in the future in the info graphic below. It also provides a summary of investments made to now and estimates for the future on our journey toward a sustainable future.

Is Investment in 2019 Slowing Down?

According to the Paris Agreement's planned implementation, total investments in green energy must amount to USD 110 trillion, or roughly 2% (on average) of gross domestic product, during that time.

The popularity of alternative energy sources led to a reduction in costs, particularly for solar energy. The global investment in new capacity reached USD 288.9 billion, excluding hydropower over 50MW, according to REN21's Renewables 2019 Status Report.

Because solar is now seen as affordable and has prevented China from deploying solar power, the Chinese government discontinued its subsidy programs. Data indicates that investments are down 11% from 2017 as a result.

The UK's Feed-in-Tariff program me for new applicants who want to use alternative energy also came to an end in April 2019.

According to the investment forecast, investments will stabilize and expand for the upcoming review. The largest investor worldwide as of this point is China. Their decline in solar investment as a result of subsidies had a major impact on the overall figure, demonstrating a blatant monopoly over the renewable energy sector.

Land Use and Growing Population

Wider adoption of large-scale solar farms would not be the best solution because they occupy a lot of space, and population growth is expected to exceed 9.7 billion by 2050. A less environmental impact must be achieved, or more advanced technology like wind energy converters must be developed.

In the UK, wind energy is currently one of the most significant alternative energy sources, supplying around 4 million homes. Due to expensive maintenance and its location in deep waters, offshore wind is still in its infancy. However, in the future, we will be able to produce energy more effectively from the oceans and deep waters.

The utilization of wind energy is limited by the current wind turbines' design flaws, which prevent them from harnessing winds at very high elevations. Future aerial technology may pave the way with considerably more promising reach up to 500 m, when higher winds are present.

Sources of solar energy from space make up one of the more expensive, early-stage ventures. The photovoltaic cells that turn sunlight into energy, optical reflectors, a circuit that transforms the power into radio frequency, and photovoltaic cells are all components of the prototype. The energy will then be returned to Earth via an inbuilt antenna.

This cutting-edge alternative energy source has the potential to limitlessly provide our expanding population's energy needs in the future by utilizing the unchanging sunlight from space.

Storing Green Energy

The widespread use of alternative energy sources depends on effective battery storage. Due to the dependence of solar photovoltaic systems on direct sunlight and the absence of built-in solar storage batteries, a significant quantity of energy is lost or wasted.

Hydrogen will serve as a source of propulsion energy in the future. Currently, fossil fuels are used to produce the bulk. However, the production of hydrogen gas also uses excess alternative energy. There are several applications for hydrogen gas, including supplying it to the natural gas system and converting it to power using fuel cells. If we can find less expensive ways to deploy such alternative energy sources more generally, hydrogen might be employed extensively in the transportation sector.

Hydrogen is superior for distribution and storage since it has the highest mass density of any fuel. Because of its steady chemistry, it can store energy better than any other medium.

Building a supply and storage infrastructure will make it possible to use hydrogen more effectively in the future. Future hydrogen plans call for the construction of an underground storage system where surplus wind energy, for example, may be electrolyzed into hydrogen.

Alternative Energy and Infrastructure

Only the infrastructure in place now is designed for fossil fuels. A brand-new one would require several years and expensive materials to construct. Off-grid systems based on alternative energy have recently been successful in supplying local or small grids to remote regions.

Customers will have the chance to sell electricity back to the grid and take control of the needed and consumed energy when the grid is fully decentralized. However, given the extensive scope of the required reform, the UK is a long way from achieving full decentralization.

But other companies, like UPS and some of the biggest retailers and supermarkets, can be credited with being forerunners in the UK's off-grid restructuring.

More jobs in the sustainable energy industry will become available when alternative energy is scaled up. All industries will take years of preparation and significant investment to grow and implement.

We can start by imposing greater restrictions on upcoming fossil fuel projects and stricter emission targets in order to ensure a future without further carbon emissions.

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