Using the Power of Nature To Get Us Moving
By TRISOFT team
Here we are, in 2019, moving through space and time at a faster and faster pace. What do we need to get moving? Well, mostly energy.
According to estimates provided by the Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels account for 86% of the total energy produced in the world. Also, a present day estimate by National Geographic determined that we use 320 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every day. Of this, petroleum accounted for 36.8%, coal 26.6% and natural gas 22.9%.
And while fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas are still popular, our world is slowly falling apart because of them. They take hundreds of millions of years to form and are depleted much faster than new reserves can be created. It is estimated that 23.5 tons of fossilized organic material deposited on the ocean floor is required to produce 1 liter of gasoline. The amounts of carbon dioxide produced during their combustion is enormous — about 21.3 billion tons per year, while natural processes can only absorb about half of that. This means that every year the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing by 10.65 billion tons, which is theorized to be the leading contributor to global warming that could potentially have very adverse effects on the ecosystem. Although natural gas is considered to be cleaner than other fossil fuels, it has still been found to contribute to pollution and global warming.
Seeing things clearly
Most of us, we live in the city and over the past 50 years we got to simply accept that every day we travel through a cloud of smog and that our children live in an environment where pollution exceeds the safe levels. Some would compare the air in a big city with smoking 15 cigarettes per day, so things aren’t looking very bright. In some cities, people have resigned themselves to wearing masks or drinking only bottled water to protect their health.
It’s time we began to see urban life (and not only) through a different lens — a clearer one, that will allow us to fight to make a change.
We are living an era of change, but does it all have to be for the worse? Can’t we bring nature back to the cities?
Scientists are constantly researching newer and greener sources of energy that have limited impact on the environment and reduce their contribution to global warming. By trying to shift from the world of dirty fossil fuels to renewable clean energy sources, we can hope again for a healthier future.
Have you ever thought about powering your home off the grid? In a few years, we could all be powering our homes or businesses using just the power of nature. Because there are so many possibilities for producing clean energy!
Let’s discuss the most significant ones.
1. Energy from the Sun
The sun is an abundant source of energy. Almost everything in our world takes its energy from the sun. The goal of the scientists is to directly tap this unlimited source of energy instead of obtaining it from indirect sources, like fossil fuels.
The idea is to set up giant solar panels and mirrors in outer space and collects huge amounts of solar energy, which would be transmitted to smaller solar collectors. Then the solar energy would be beamed back to earth using laser or microwave technology.
A lot of progress has been made during the past 20 years — in the US installed solar energy capacity grew 418% and countries like Spain and Germany are powering almost 50% of their country through solar panels.
However, a lot still needs to le learned and done in order to harness the energy from the sun. We need to perfect the technology into building cost-effective solar panels and store this type of energy properly.
2. Energy from the Wind
Turnin energy from kinetic into electrical — this is the magic of wind energy. Just like turning turbines in a hydraulic power plant. The challenge with wind is that its speed is variable and in most cases the energy from wind can only be effectively harnessed with very high wind speed and consistent heavy winds. You need a constant flow of steady wind. Too much or too little wind wouldn’t work. Also, you need large, open expanses of land in order to construct wind farms.
Ten years ago, the worldwide wind power generation capacity stood at 121.2 GW. On an average, wind power currently accounts for only 1.5% of the global power generation capacity. However, this sector has grown two-fold within the three-year period of 2005–2008. Wind power accounts for 19% of the total power generation in Denmark, 10% in Portugal and Spain, and 7% in the Republic of Ireland and Germany.
3. Energy from the Water
Electrical energy can also be obtained from waves and ocean currents. The differences in temperature that occur with varying depths can be used to drive heat engines, which in turn produce electric power. The osmotic pressure difference between salty water and fresh water can also be used to generate electricity.
The energy from the oceans may very easily become the king of fuels because although most of these methods are still in the experimental stages, if researched properly, they can be a breakthrough for mankind.
4. Energy from biofuels
Biofuels are very promising for small-scale use as they are low on greenhouse gas emission, are an effective waste management system, and produce little air pollutants. But what exactly are they? Basically biofuels and biomass include fuel from plant and animal source, drawing energy from biological beings — sugarcane, switchgrass, algae, poplar, corn, dead wood, leaves, wood chips, and branches can be burnt to produce energy — any biodegradable waste from plant and animal sources which can be burnt for fuel.
The limiting factors in using biofuels are the vast areas of fertile land needed and the fact that not all plant sources offer a high yield. Researches are currently trying to find better solutions to make use of biofuels to the benefit of our world.
5. Energy from geothermal heat
Heat from beneath the Earth’s surface can be used to produce clean electrical energy. Geothermal sources could be hot rocks or lava from beneath the earth’s surface. Geothermal energy is used to power millions of homes around the world. In addition to creating electricity geothermal energy can be used to heat homes, heat water, or turn water into steam to turn turbines for electrical energy.
6. Energy from the human body
This one is new, but you may have heard of, or maybe seen devices that harness energy from us humans :) In the future, your mobile phone or tablet may be charging from your body heat, movement in your bag, in your pocket, or from your fingertips as you move your fingers across the screen.
Bonus — Energy from Antimatter
One of the most complicated theories of producing energy is the idea of using matter and antimatter to generate electric power. Antimatter is the opposite of matter. If matter is composed of particles, antimatter is comprised of anti-particles.
Scientists propose that if matter and antimatter were to collide, they would annihilate one another and release vast amounts of energy. However, this is still a theoretical source of energy. Whether anti-matter exists in some part of the universe and can be harnessed in some way is still a mystery to humankind.
As we’ve see, there are various ways of extracting energy from the earth that humankind has discovered and used to its advantage. As the human race evolves, we will continually search for newer, more efficient forms of energy that have the least amount of impact on the environment. At present day, the most economically efficient fuel has proved to be oil. In the future, when the world’s oil reserves are depleted, we will use another source of energy; possibly one that is mentioned above. The conclusion is that we must be proactive in researching new forms of energy to continue the advancement of civilization and to ensure a high quality of living that we all have grown accustomed to.
At TRISOFT, we realize the environmental problems we are facing are global problems. And while we are really excited to see new developments around the world that are helping us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we’re asking ourselves how we can use technology and innovation to unlock the power of nature so we can live healthier and make clean food affordable. The future of energy is already looking brighter and cleaner, and it might even become free for us, the general consumers.