100% Renewable: Our vision of a cleaner future
Pause for a second with me; Imagine a world without fossil fuels. What would it look like? People might be zipping by on high-speed trains, moving solely by the power of the sun and magnetic propulsion. Each house and commercial building would be adorned with solar panels. A walk along the beach could be extended far out into the ocean atop a dock that doubles as a tidal energy generator. Our industries, factories and power plants produce nothing but steam.
This might sound like a pipedream, but it’s not as far off as it might seem.
Consider Costa Rica. This country has already achieved 95–99% renewable energy use in the past few years. In addition, it has recently surpassed an amazing milestone — 150 days this year run on 100% renewable energy. As a result, energy prices dropped by 12% this year and are expected to continue to decline if the trend continues.
By now, you’ve probably heard the criticisms of upholding Costa Rica as a global standard, but it doesn’t mean we can’t strive to meet even half of its goals.
What can we learn from Costa Rica?
Costa Rica receives more than 75% of it’s power from water, 12% from geothermal, 7% from wind and .01% from solar. However, recent studies have exposed flaws in many of the world’s traditional, hydropower plants. Many resevoirs created by dammed rivers have created an unexpected result — the off-putting of large amounts of greenhouse gases.
Unfortunately, the world needs hydropower. Simply disregarding it is not the answer. The bulk of countries and states that receives the highest proportion of their electricity from renewable resources have plentiful hydropower systems that they utilize.
Electricity creates 30% of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation generates 26%, 21% comes industry, 12% from commercial and residential use, and 9% from agriculture.
We could rid almost 60% of our greenhouse gases by switching to electric vehicles and by completely converting our electrical systems to renewable energy. As we evolve our transportation system to rely more heavily on electric vehicles, we will continue to exponentially increase our energy consumption.
In order to move away from fossil fuels, we MUST find cleaner ways to produce electricity — and to produce A LOT of it. Because of water’s powerful energy density, it has the capacity to create eight times more energy than wind and three times more than solar.
In order to keep up with demand, we must encourage innovation in the field and insist that hydropower is produced in ways that minimize impacts on wildlife and the environment.
In addition to electrical grid updates to allow for greater renewable energy capacity, reliable, efficient public transportation options that utilize electricity and increased renewable energy subsidies, we also have to make available the realistic option to choose renewable energy on a personal level.
More and more people are supporting renewable energy each year. Across the country, support for renewable energy is strong — more than 75% of Americans support renewable energy research.
However when it comes to a national standard, we don’t have to tell you about the money involved from the fossil fuel industry. But outside of that, renewable energy faces a lot of unknowns. And oil and gas is a safe choice — because it’s something we know and can depend on — for now.
Renewable energy is variable. It’s availability changes day-to-day, hour-to-hour. And while our technology has made great strides in overcoming these issues, our infrastructure simply isn’t there yet. The risks of change are simply too great to expect our government or world to make this leap all at once.
That means it is up to us — the producers and consumers of energy — to come up with a better solution. Instead of waiting around for the government to enact change, more and more consumers have begun to take things into their own hands by choosing solar-powered homes and electric vehicles.
So what’s stopping us?
Quite simply: Cost. Lack of choices. Efficiency. Not everyone can afford an electric vehicles, and not everyone can afford solar panels on their homes, and not everyone can afford super, energy-efficient home appliances.
When you examine the values of cost and efficiency, you will see that it is not simply “cost” or efficiency that’s keeping people away. It is, specifically, high costs and low efficiency. Or if you want to get even closer, it’s not just the high cost and low efficiency of renewable energy. It is the extraordinarily low costs and high efficiency of fossil fuel energy.
When you compare the two, does the average person really have a choice?
We believe, and it’s been proven, that when given a choice — a true, competitive alternative — most people will choose renewable energy and even more will do so in the future.
So that’s what we have set out to do: Provide another option for personal power. Will we change the world with a single, hydropower device? Probably not. (We’re not that crazy!)
The problem of fossil fuels and ridding the world of them forever is too great for one company, no matter hold bold its ambitions, but we’re excited to see what the future holds for renewable energy.
Enomad is a group of engineers, designers and adventurers seeking to revolutionize green energy off the grid. Our first product, a portable hydropower generator is now available on Indiegogo. To read more about what we’re up to, find us on our blog, Facebook or Twitter.