How the infinite energy of green can change the world | Whuff News


“There will be times when we will have more energy than we actually need in certain areas,” says Richard Green, professor of sustainable energy business at Imperial College Business School in London. “Finding ways to use this extra energy during those times is a good idea, but it’s not predictable enough for people to plan their lives.” Likewise, traditional forms of energy may need to be in limited supply, so that if we are short on green electricity there will be a degree of discontinuity.

Increasing the share of variable renewable energy means that energy systems will become more flexible. Of course, demand must be flexible as well. “Whether people pay a fee — a little like a phone plan where you get free power up to a certain amount,” Green explains, “or a pay-as-you-go model.” Uber’s surge pricing may seem generous. “The price will have to go through the roof part of the year, whenever there is a lack of air or sunlight.”

The question of the need for green energy will not be limited to households, of course, but will extend to businesses and companies, especially technology companies – some of the biggest users of electricity. The data centers of leading technology giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft already require several terawatt hours (a unit equal to one billion kilo-watt hours of electricity) per year to keep their servers cool. As the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning further secures computing power, that number will only increase. Private investment can further accelerate new technologies and change the economics for large companies to use them.

If companies make the transition to carbon-neutral energy, however, they will put indirect pressure on land that is already scarce from competing uses, urbanization and industrial development, since many renewable plants will have to be built to satisfy demand. This, in turn, will put additional pressure on the planet: many forms of renewable energy or their production processes release greenhouse gases such as CO2 or methane into the atmosphere, because they rely on minerals (cobalt, lithium, and other rare earth metals ) that can now only be extracted or built with the help of fossil fuels. Dredging has the potential to irreparably destroy native fauna and flora.

In other words, unlimited green energy can be harmful to the environment in the short term. However renewables ultimately have the potential to reduce or reverse carbon emissions and eliminate millions of deaths caused by pollution each year, making the decision to change one of the most pressing issues of our time.



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