Sustainable Renewables

Ahoy Matey!

Jump aboard to broaden your insight on sustainability and renewability, and why it becomes more urgent to think about it now more than ever. Vamos!

Let’s take a look at the keywords first, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Renewability’. In a nutshell, these two words are almost identical and sometimes loosely used in articles regarding energy-saving and environment-saving.

Sustainability is like your last stipend, you have to use it as little as possible so you could survive until you can find a job or something. In more explanatory terms, Sustainability is the ability to sustain resource(s) so it won’t deplete too quickly so your offspring’s offspring could still benefit from it.

Renewability is the ability to renew itself (well, sort of), “renew” here is not like it could magically replete again after you’ve done using it, what renew means is the producer of a said resource doesn’t change into different forms when you use it, so it won’t expend. For example, fossil fuel will change into exhaust gas after being burned inside a combustion engine of a vehicle, but, the wind doesn’t change forms after being used to rotate a wind turbine.

So, from the above explanations, I wish you could grasp some concepts of sustainability and renewability. If you still need more information (hats off to you), here I will provide you with some short videos regarding another concept of sustainability and renewability.

and also here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKgeTvQWZaI

If you’re ready, prepare your scuba gear and your wetsuit ’cause we’re gonna dive deeper into this ocean of curiosity.

Melissa Low, an Energy Analyst from the National University of Singapore wrote this back in 2012, and her statement strikes me.

ASEAN has an energy “Trilemma”, which has to be tackled at both the regional and national levels. Member countries need to deliver on energy security, economic growth and development, in an environmentally-sustainable way.

This “Trilemma” is what some of you may be more familiar with the terms “The Three Pillars of Sustainability”. The said pillars are,

  1. Social Equity
  2. Economic Viability
  3. Environmental Protection

But wait, didn’t she also say energy security?

Energy Security is how secure a nation’s energy resources are (for the sake of simplicity I will loosely interpret energy with electricity), and when the energy is secure those three pillars could be fulfilled because electricity is our basic need and almost everything in this modern age relies on electricity to operate. But here’s the catch, to first secure the energy it’s going to be a fight between the priority of the three pillars, and you cannot satisfy every single pillar because there’s always one that will be left behind.

The sad reality is almost every time an energy source is about to be secured the one that left behind is Environmental Protection.

It’s a vicious cycle, I know, but there’s always something that we could do to include the environment in our quest to secure the energy. One of them is Renewable Energy.

I said earlier that I was struck by Melissa’s statement regarding ASEAN’s energy trilemma, that’s because I live in Indonesia, and Indonesia is a part of ASEAN. Her statement sure hits home because our nation’s energy choice is still relying on cheap-but-dirty energy sources. And Indonesia is known for its natural beauty.

Look at the chart below, it shows the source of electricity generators in Indonesia as of 2018. As you can see, Coal is the most dominant source of electricity generator, followed by Gas, Renewables, and Oil.

Source: Handbook of Energy & Economic Statistics of Indonesia, 2018

While coal is relatively cheap and can give jobs to miners, it disposes a lot of smoke and it’s bad for the environment and health. Oil and gas emerge from the same hole, while gas doesn’t produce as much waste as coal, its flatmate heavily contributes to the hole in our ozone.

Renewables, the savior of our planet, on the other hand, are the most eco-friendly electricity generator source. We have an abundance of renewable energies out there but hardly utilize them. Then what’s wrong with Renewables? it’s less expensive than an expedition to the arctic just to find an oil well, it doesn’t dispose of byproducts, and is available in many forms and quantities.

Here lie some of the problems,

  • it is fairly new, and research and development are quite costly
  • to equal the output from more conventional electricity generators, the size of the facility needs to be enormously large, e.g. Solar Farms
  • some energy sources are intermittent, like wind and solar energy

Now you know why it’s not as popular as you and I wish it was.

But if you think those problems are going to stop us from making more and more viable clean energy generators, you were terribly wrong. In fact, there are plenty of working renewable energy devices in the world that could generate electricity enough to power up to 250 households such as Mutriku Power Plant and Wave Dragon.

Why has it become more urgent now to think about sustainability than ever before?

Forest fires, plastic waste, and pandemics. That’s why.

Our beloved Planet Earth is plagued by our selfishness just so we can revel tonight and hangover to death the next morning, forgetting our duty to generations after us.

I am writing this not because I’m a saint or some kind of righteous person. No, I’m the same as you. I’m writing this neither to judge you nor your lifestyle. I am doing this simply asking you fellow humans to be more aware of what we are facing right now, we’re in this together just like in High School Musical, the only difference here is there’s no Zac Efron who’ll slam dunk the hell out of environmental crises.

We have a purpose in life, not just to live, love, and laugh. Do something worthy of your time, something that’ll make you smile in your final moments, something that gives people joy when remembering your name.

There’s a saying “You cry when you came into this world, and the world smiles upon your arrival”. So why won’t we also smile when we left, and make the world cries upon our departure. Let’s be our best selves for you, for me, and for everyone that lives on this breathtakingly beautiful planet with many names. For the Earth, من أجل الأرض, para la Tierra, and Untuk Bumi.

Remember this in every moment from now on,

The resources that we luxuriate right now is not a heritage from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our successors.

That’s all folks!

Think renewably, act sustainably, and live admirably.

Salam,

Aulia

P.S. This is a repost from my original post from substack here. Edited for a wee bit of clarity. Oh and also this is one of my first attempts to write articles so the content and wording probably have plenty of errors. That’s all! I am always open to suggestions, so I can improve my writing and become a better writer. Thank you for reading! Stay healthy, folks!.

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