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Sustainable energy storage and distribution Essay

Sustainable energy storage and distribution

Introduction

            Sustainable energy refers to the provision of viable energy development which responds to the present energy demands without compromising the possibility of future generations to meet their energy demands (Robinson & Schut, 2014). Some of the technologies which support sustainable energy comprise of the renewable sources of energy like solar energy, hydroelectricity, wind energy, geothermal energy, wave energy, tidal power, bioenergy and various technologies planned to improve the energy efficiency. In the current world, the cost of energy has decreased drastically and continues to decrease due to the continuous use of renewable energy. Most of the modern technologies utilized for sustainable energy are economically competitive (Moseley & Garche, 2014). Notably, effective government policies promote the confidence of the investors in sustainable energy while expanding this market. A considerable progress has been made and continues to be pursued in the transition of energy from different fossil fuels into sustainable ecological systems up to a point where different researches support renewable energy.

Solutions

            As revealed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), hydrogen generated through electrolysis offers the solution to fluctuating renewable energy sources. The hydrogen generated through renewable electrolysis provides the promising solutions in transportation sectors and electric power (Moseley & Garche, 2014). As depicted through the study by NREL, renewable electrolysis utilizes electricity generated from renewables to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. From this process, the hydrogen produced can be used as a medium of energy storage which can store renewable energy until an engine or full cell transforms it to electricity (Robinson & Schut, 2014). Additionally, this hydrogen can be combined again with CO2 to generate synthetic gas used in transportation applications and power plants. Moreover, this hydrogen can be generated within the off-peak seasons or during the periods when there is extra renewable energy. Since the hydrogen is convertible back to electricity at times when there is insufficient renewable power, this assists in the stabilization in utility grid. The excess hydrogen may be used as fuel to run vehicles and other purposes.

            Secondly, different nations have embraced various ways of storing energy for future use since the traditional way of using batteries seem to be expensive and not sustainable. Many nations are now using the current energy technology to store energy from renewable resources instead of batteries which can be used for future use. Some of these technologies include pumped hydro storage and flywheels (Moseley & Garche, 2014). Flywheels are suitable for low and high power applications since they store energy in motion form through a rotating mass which demand frequent cycling.

            In addition, pumped hydro storage of renewable energy is capable for storing energy in water form elevated at a high position. This is achieved through pumping water when the supply of electricity is high and utilizing gravity in the transportation of water down when there is high demand for electricity with low supply. Pumped-storage facilities are very economical because of the differentials in off-peak prices since it offers important services in ancillary grid. The projects initiated using this type of technology has offered energy storage capability and the transmission ancillary grid advantages in Europe and US. Currently, more than 40 projects in pumped-storage are operating in USA providing more than 20GW in the national grid systems (Robinson & Schut, 2014). This pumped-storage hydropower provides the solutions in energy balancing, storage capacity, ancillary grid, and stability like the network frequency reserves and control. This is because the plants used in pumped storage can respond to potential changes in electrical load within a few seconds.

            Another storage medium which provides the solution to alternating renewable energy sources is the use of compressed air energy storage (CAES). This is similar to the pumped hydro storage through output, storage capacity and application although it utilizes the ambient air instead of water. The use of CAES technology has gained popularity more than pumped hydro because it provides storage in large scale without any geographic restrictions. In the CAES technology, the compressed ambient air is driven into underground caverns or storage tanks. When the need for electricity arises, the air compressed and stored in tanks is expanded to drive motors which eventually generate power (Moseley & Garche, 2014). The current advancement in CAES technology has improved its efficiency, the fuel used and storage methods. In addition, CAES possess many advantages compared to other different types of energy storage since the ambient air utilized is free and the technologies and material utilized are abundant and well understood.

            Moreover, batteries have been used for long to store energy from many renewable sources. People using the solar energy can use the lead-acid batteries to store energy for future use. Despite the fact that some of these batteries are not durable, the use of rechargeable batteries offers the solutions for power storage in rural areas (Robinson & Schut, 2014). The use of lithium-ion batteries have created a recent attention in renewable energy storage since they take longer before recharging and their weight is much less compared to the traditional lead-acid batteries.

            Some of the current proposed solutions in the storage of energy include the proposed potential gravity power storage which involves the storage of energy without losses (Moseley & Garche, 2014). This project has been in progress since 2013 and experts reveal that if finalized, it will respond to the current problems encountered in sustainable energy solutions.

Current policies

            The current renewable policies supported by the US government include the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). These two policies were primarily enacted by the US federal government to reduce the demand of the power from fossil fuels like petroleum and coal while decreasing the related carbon emissions. Through these policies, the American nation has reduced the carbon emissions significantly since 2007 up to date. The PTC is an incentive offered by the federal government to offer financial support in the development of renewable energy in America (Robinson & Schut, 2014). The companies which produce electricity from geothermal, wind and bioenergy qualify for the federal PTC. These companies are eligible for incentive in the production of renewable energy for ten years since the beginning of their operations.

            Together with the state standards in renewable resources, PTC has supported many development projects in wind power. As disclosed by the Department of Energy in USA, these development supported by PTC has resulted in many economic benefits in the production and distribution of electricity. Between 2007 and 2010, the production of wind power in America tripled with an approximate 550 manufacturing companies distributed in 44 states (Robinson & Schut, 2014). Consequently, the cost of producing electricity from renewable sources like wind in US has reduced considerably over the last two years.

            Moreover, different nations and states have adopted various policies supporting greater investment and other adoption in renewable technologies in renewable energies. Some of these policies include the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) which needs electric utility providers to offer particular percentage. The RPS is a policy which opens the alternatives to increase the production of energy from the renewable sources like biomass, solar, geothermal and wind. In USA, according to the rules of RPS, some companies must generate certain fraction of power from renewable sources of energy which are acknowledged (Moseley & Garche, 2014). When these companies produce electricity from the renewable resources, the federal government requires them to supply to other organizations at a certain fee. Despite the fact that the RPS depends majorly on the private sector to produce energy, the federal government offer some financial support in order to increase the private investment in renewable use of energy.

            Another environmental policy which affects the changes in the storage and transmission of the production of sustainable energy is the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). SEPA assists environmental local agencies to identify any environmental impact that may result from the decisions made by government (Hendrickson, 2012). This act was enacted through the Washington Legislature in the year 1971. Since many projects proposed in the production, storage and storage of renewable resources by the private sector must get approval from the relevant authorizes, SEPA intervenes in the adoption of the proposed solutions in energy storage. Notably, SEPA advises the federal government on any environmental issues that may result in any proposed solutions. Moreover, SEPA also advises the local governments on the construction of different projects proposed in the states, particularly the on renewable energies.

            Furthermore, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) enacted in 1970 through the US environmental law offers the procedure or implementation of objectives in the federal agencies. According to the current legislations of NEPA, all the states must provide effective sustainable renewable energy storage facilities that do not affect the future generations. Various states need to regulate the production and regulation of renewable sources of energy (Sukumar, 2014). NEPA assists the private developers in individual states on the objectives formulated to engage in better production of renewable power. NEPA also provides instructions on the impact of different solutions in the production of renewable energy. Since most of the projects in renewable resources are supported by private developers, NEPA offers directions on how to go in different projects.

Challenges

            Some of the challenges associated with the implementation of the current and previous policies related to the production, storage and transmission of renewable energy include the poor implementation process through poor funding. Many proposals have been formulated to venture in advanced technological production and storage of renewable energy but only a few have been implemented (Hendrickson, 2012). This is because private developers in renewable energy seek funding from the government which takes a lot of time before responding. As depicted through the current report by NEMA, many private developers venturing the renewable energy technologies lack the appropriate muscle to put into practice what they have put into plan (Robinson & Schut, 2014). Different nations struggle to attain sustainable energy to meet their demands. However, in these nations, the proposals by different private developers in the associated renewable energies are still pending.

            Another challenge is the limited awareness and confidence in the use of renewable technologies. As divulged by NEPA, the public require more information on solar technologies. Better programs are needed to educate builders, designers and other potential users of renewable energy in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors (Hendrickson, 2012). Most consumers lack the basic information in the use of renewable energies like solar and wind. Lack of effective programs to protect the manufacturing and installation of renewable energy has hindered effective implementation of RPS. The governments need to educate their citizens on the current available renewable sources of power that they can purchase and use in their homes. In addition, the change in governments from one reign to another affects the transition in the implementation process aimed at increasing the production of renewable power. This is because, each government that comes into power they want to actualize their manifesto in order to lure support in the next elections. Since 1980, the American private sector has been formulating different approaches to solve the demand for electricity (Hendrickson, 2012). However, lack of transition in the leadership of projects in renewable resources has resulted in many pending projects which are useful in the nation. Therefore, poor transition of leadership from one government to the other has resulted in the delay of many projects which are significant in the improvement of renewable energy production and utilization. NEPA claims that the poor funding process in renewable energy projects is as a result of lack of effective transition from one government to the other.

            Furthermore, political influences in many nations affect the implementation process in policies related to renewable energy. Since the policies supporting the production, distribution and utilization of renewable energy must be approved and enacted through parliamentary sittings, some political struggle in terms of personal interest affect their enactment (Sukumar, 2014). Despite the fact that some of these policies affecting renewable energy are beneficial to the entire nation, lack of significant support during the enactment process hinder the significant progress in renewable energy projects. For instance, in America, the political swings from republican government to democratic government affect the approval in projects in renewable sources of energy like nuclear. There is a big struggle in passing of policies in the current government due to political struggle.

            The wide spread utilization of renewable energy in USA has also been hindered by the state and federal policies and other market imperfections which subsidize the competing sources of energy (Hendrickson, 2012). Some these policies which affect the implementation of renewable energy projects include the price controls through federal governments in the oil and gas prices. Through these subsidizes, the renewable sources are unable to compete effectively in the market and attain a competitive advantage over other sources of energy due to the cost of production and distribution required (Moseley & Garche, 2014). Despite the fact some of the environmental policies support sustainable energy production, the subsidies provided by the federal governments in other sources shy off private investors in this sector.

Alternative methods

            Through technology, the production and storage of hydrogen has been made easy using the Nano-technology. Some fuels such as gasoline used in renewable energy production lead to carbon footprint and pollution. Experts reveal that hydrogen is a clean source of renewable power when the two problems of easy accessibility and safe storage are solved. A team of scientists in USA have invented the nano-composities from magnesium which are air stable used in the hydrogen storage. The Nano-composites particles are formed through magnesium metal and mixed with other polymers associated with Plexiglas (Moseley & Garche, 2014). Notably, the Nano-composite technology form of hydrogen storage is able to absorb and release hydrogen in any conventional temperature without the metal oxidation taking place. As claimed by the DOE of America, the Nano-technology invented recently, is one of the major steps in the storage advancement of hydrogen since it is able to overcome the challenges in kinetic and thermodynamic (Sukumar, 2014).

            Moreover, the use of technology in different renewable resources has resulted in the invention of better methods in storage and distribution of power. Some of these current technologies include the use of leviathan energy in the wind turbine production, reflective dishes in solar energy, use of cells which are spherical and the utilization of clean energy from algae.

            In wind power, new technologies have been developed in the production of energy in areas with low wind and other offshore sections. Experts have developed better designs in blades, mooring systems in ocean and efficient turbines (Hendrickson, 2012). Through these technologies, cheaper wind energy has been produced in different states in America. Most of the American experts reveal that these new technologies will allow better utilization in the existing grid through driving the power grid to minimize transmission impact required to distribute wind power in different cities.

            Since the struggle for power in different nations hinders the implementation of different projects in renewable energy, separation of powers would solve the procedures followed in the implementation process (Hendrickson, 2012). Most of the private invented projects in renewable energies are affected by competing political interests in power and therefore, separating the powers involved in the national renewable policies will eventually solve the implementation process.

            Furthermore, in order to attract more investment and use of renewable energy, the Energy Commission in America have formulated the solar partnership in new homes which provides incentives to attract people to install solar panels in their new homes. This program encourages new house owners in America to use solar panels due to their efficiency in energy at all times. According to the energy commission in America, the solar partnership in new homes aim at installing more than 400MW of power through solar energy by the end of 2016 (Sukumar, 2014). Through this partnership, people who are building new homes are able to get solar panels at subsided prices which are affordable. Since the solar panels have been built using the current technology, their durability and ability to trap energy from the sun attract more people to buy them.

            In other nations like German, the formulation of programs with market incentives like the MAP, aims to lure more people to use renewable sources of power. Through the MAP program, people building new houses are encouraged to obtain a specific share in the amount of energy they consume from renewable energy (Moseley & Garche, 2014). Alternatively, those people with old buildings are been provided with financial assistance to renovate their buildings in order to use renewable energy.

            Moreover, people with small homes, can apply for large and small solar panels, effective heat pumps and furnaces which are biomass-fired with feed systems which are automatic through the MAP project (Sukumar, 2014). The change in lifestyle from rental houses to personal houses which utilize the modern technologies in the production of renewable energy has also solved the fluctuating power problems in different nations. Many people now prefer to build or buy modern houses through mortgages which have effectively increased the use of renewable energy in homes.

            In conclusion, in order to attain sustainable energy in the world, the governments ruling different nations need to understand their roles in supporting of projects in renewable energy. Despite the fact that different private developers have constituted various approaches in tapping and generation of energy, without the financial support required in this project the problem of electricity will continue to increase. Since different government and other non-government policies affect the production and distribution of renewable energy, all the government must evaluate the viability of the projects presented by the private developers in renewable energy. As depicted from this essay, it is evident that through government incentives in the production and purchase of better equipment, there is a recommendable increase in the use of renewable power.

References

Hendrickson, C. (2012). Sustainable Energy Challenges for Civil Engineering Management. Journal Of Management In Engineering, 28(1), 2-4. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.00000

Moseley, P. T., & Garche, J. (2014). Electrochemical Energy Storage for Renewable Sources and Grid Balancing. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Robinson, M., & Schut, D. (2014). RAIL AS THE SUSTAINABLE BACKBONE OF THE ENERGY EFFICIENT TRANSPORT CHAIN — A WORLD VIEW. OIDA International Journal Of Sustainable Development, 7(4), 19-30.

Sukumar, S. (2014). LAW AS A MEDIUM OF CHANGE, TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & USE OF CLEAN ENERGY. OIDA International Journal Of Sustainable Development, 7(3), 45-54.

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