A shift to cleaner energy and rapid advancements in clean energy technology

The energy needs of the rapidly increasing population and developing industry cannot be met with limited resources. In this regard, the gap between energy production and consumption increases day by day. Unfortunately, “non-renewable” energy sources such as oil, natural gas and coal continue to threaten the environment and human health more and more. Furthermore, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced due to the burning of fossil fuels increases gradually with the decrease of forests. Therefore, together with other gases in the atmosphere, it prevents the reflection of the sun’s rays. In this way, the “greenhouse effect” occurs and causes climate change with devastating consequences. 

Accordingly, renewable energy sources play the most critical role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Clean energy can be defined as energy obtained from renewable and zero-emission sources. Bioenergy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, marine energy, wind energy refers to a set of environmentally friendly energy options mainly derived from renewable, low-emission sources.

“The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. Sea levels are at the highest in human history. The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?’’ says Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General. 

Artwork By Barbara Verge

Many countries provide necessary regulations and transitions in choosing renewable energy instead of non-renewable ones. For example, it was reported that renewable energy in the United Kingdom had increased ten-fold since 2004. Thus, 37% of electricity has been produced by renewable sources. Moreover, Scotland produces 90% of electricity from renewable sources. 

In Portugal, Pego, the last remaining coal-fired power plant, closed. Thus, Portugal became the fourth country in Europe to end coal burning. With the declaration signed at COP23, which took place in Bonn in 2017, the government have already announced that it would get out of coal by 2030. Currently, 21 countries in Europe have coal exit plans. Belgium, Austria and Sweden are the other three European countries that have ended their coal use.

Artwork by Maria Clara

According to the data revealed in the report prepared by the UK-based energy think tank Ember, the amount of electricity obtained from renewable energy sources in Europe exceeded the level obtained from fossil fuels for the first time in 2020. While the share of fossil fuels in electricity generation decreased to 37%, the share of renewable resources increased to 38%. This means that Europe will continuously use less natural gas, oil and coal every year from now on. 

“There’s been remarkably rapid progress in developing wind and solar technologies and the storage and transmission they require, and the costs are plummeting. This means that a fairly rapid transition to a clean energy economy can be envisioned if it has the right policy backing,” says Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

It is stated that there are more than 1,000 specific actions that can be taken into consideration by federal, state and local governments and the private sector to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels while maintaining the reliability and services of the electricity grid. Consequently, research in clean energy should be performed altogether with energy efficiency and energy savings. Innovative solutions in this area can fundamentally change how we generate, store, transport and use energy. This shift from fossil fuels to renewable and clean energy could affect communities that generally rely on fossil fuels. With targeted policies and investments in professionals, clean energy can also provide new economic opportunities.

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Deniz Saygi
Deniz Saygi

Deniz has been working related to the fields
of Climate Diplomacy, environmental policies, the rights of the indigenous
peoples, sustainable development, and circular economy. She has a specific
interest in the relationship between climate change and indigenous culture,
palaeontological roots of climate change, intersectional environmentalism,
and climate migration. Deniz currently is selected as the Max Thabiso
Edkins Climate Ambassador for the Global Climate Youth Network launched
by the World Bank Group.

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