The Definition of Renewable Energy and the Current Status of Energy Consumption in Ireland

Categories: Energy Consumption

Energy is the driver of all activities of life. At microscopic level, energy is required for all essential cellular processes in a living organism which probably goes unnoticed by many of us. In contrast at macro level, the need for energy is highly appreciated by all ofus because it drives all activities ofdaily living from making a cup of coffee, to driving acar, to flying a plane, to lighting a house, to running a factory. However the current resources of energy such as fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are limited by its finite reserves, induction of pollution, direct effect on climate, and high cost(1, 2).

Therefore there has been a relentless effort worldwide to find sustainable resources of energy that are infinite with no direct effect on environment and cheap.

Countries around the world including the republic of Ireland are developing new renewable resources of energy that is derived from their environment and cost effective.

In the following pages and I will review the definition of the renewable energy, current status of consumption of energy in Ireland, The efforts to develop the new renewable resources of energy in Republic and the future predictions of energy development in the country.

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Renewable energy The definition of renewable energy can be put simply as theestablishments of sustainable resources of energy where these resources are replaced and generated at the same rate they are being utilized, hence, will last indefinitely(3). The economic and environmental sustainabilityof fossil fuels and nuclear fuels isunpredictable due to their limited the reserves(3).

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In contrast there are many new resources of energies that are being developed globally which include wind, wave and hydro power, photovoltaic, active solar heating, municipal and general wastes, landfill gas, geothermal, agricultural and forestry wastes, energy crops, and fuel cells(4). All of these sources of renewable energy share the characteristic of being sustainable and infinite(4). Obviously the development of these sources will vary from one country to the other depending on it is geographical location and availability of any of these resources. For example the kinetic energy of wind is converted into mechanical energy by wind turbines, which is then converted into electrical energy. The maximum output of electricity is generated when the speed of wind is approximately 12 to 14 m/s which is obviously determined by the geographical location and direction of wind(5). Similarly, solar energy can be converted into thermal energy which can be used for space and water heating or converted into electricity. The generation the solar energy requires the use of solar for photovoltaic which are semiconductor devices call solar cells that converts the sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic effect(5). Conveniently these systems can be placed on the roofs of buildings or on the ground. One of the most interesting resources of renewable energy is geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is generated by the very hot core of the planet and the sun and stored beneath earth surface(6). Following the localization of the geothermal energy it can be accessed by the drilling of the surface or fault lines(6). Furthermore another source of renewable energy is wave energy(1). It is generated by differential heating of earth and travelling of massive currents of ocean water transferring energy to the water to produce waves(z). Obviously it is limited by the generation of strong wave which is in turn determined by the strength and duration of an obstructed distance over which the wind blows. Mechanical motion and fluid pressure are used to generate electricity from wave energy(5). Another resource of renewable energy is hydroelectricity where there is a conversion of kinetic energy of flowing water into electricity(5). Turbines located strategically in the course of riversare used to generate electricity from the flowing water. In addition, renewable Energy can be generated from biomass which refers to dead organic materials used for the generation of fuel or plants grown specifically for the production of fuel(5). These are referred to as biofuels whichare unlike fossil fuels is carbon neutral. This means that the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed during growth equals to the carbon dioxide released during combustion. It is mainly derived from energy crops and organic residues(5).

The applicability of the examples of the renewable energy resources cited above is obviously limited by the barriers that vary from country to country. These barriers may include uncertainty about the availability of a particular resource, technical difficulties in conversion capabilities, initial cost of technologies to be utilized, taxation issues, and financial incentive to government to develop such a renewable resource(5, 7).

Current status of energy requirements in Republic of Ireland The Republic of Ireland is facing several challenges in production and maintenance of energy resources required for the sustainable growth and development of the country. The first challenge is the scarcity of fossil fuels which makes The Republic almost completely dependent on importation of fossil fuel. Ireland is the most energy dependent in the European Union where approximately 91% of the total energy consumed in Ireland is imported(5, 7). This is particularly challenging given the current economic climate in the country and the political and economic climate worldwide. The energy consumption in Ireland is mainly divided between electricity generation, heat generation and transportation. Therefore, a striking example of dependence on fossil fuel is that the generation of electricity in Ireland is 93% dependent on fossil fuel and more importantly that 59% of this energy is wasted due to transformation loses(5, 7).

The second challenge is that Ireland is committed to meet the various targets set by the European Union and the international bodies on renewable energy and energy efficiency and climate change(8). The global warming and greenhouse effect has necessitated that there should be a at least 50% reduction by the year 2050 compared with the year 2000 in greenhouse gases as the United Nations into governmental panel on climate change(5). The third challenge that faces the Republic of Ireland is the investment on these renewable resources of energy at time of economic difficulties and the generation of financial resources to drive such an investment.

The development of renewable resources of energy and future targets Ireland has already succeeded in development of some renewable energy resources. The Department of communication, marine and natural and resources published on the on 12th March 2007 Irish government energy White Paper entitled delivering a sustainable energy future for Ireland(5, 9). The energy White Paper outlined an action plan towards 2020. The action plan ensures the security of energy supply, the sustainability of energy supply and use, the enhancement of the competitiveness of energy supply(5, 9). It also set specific targets such as 33% of Ireland’s electricity consumption will be generated from renewable sources by 2020, 500 MW of ocean energy capacity and 800 MW of combined heat and power with an emphasis on biomass will be installed by 2020, 30% biomass co-fired by the state owned pear power plants by 2015(5,9).

It is encouraging to observe that there has been an improvement in the use of renewable sources of energy over the years. The use of renewable energy increased by 75% from 1990 to 2006(5, 7,9). Renewable energy contributed 4.5% to Ireland’s primary fuel mix for the electricity generation in 2006. The majority of the Ireland’s renewable energy consists of wind energy, bioenergy and hydroelectricity with an installed capacity of 794.5 W, 25 MW and 528MW respectively(5). The development of solar energy is impeded by the intermittent sunshine. Geothermal resources, tidal and wave energy resources are in their infancy currently.

Despite the increasing use of the new energy sources as highlighted above, the renewable energy contribution is only 1.4% of the current use of energy which is lower than the European average of 8.5%(1, 3, 5). This indeed suggests that there should be a greater effort to invest on renewable sources of energy by all sectors and in particular electricity and transportation sectors. This is important in order to fulfil the national targets for the use of renewable energy and international commitment to the greenhouse gas emission targets specifically Kyoto protocol(5, 10).

Conclusion There is an increasing realization coupled with serious effort in the Republic of Ireland to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel and increase the use and development of renewable sources of energy. The reliance on the new sources of energy will definitely improve the security of supply of sustainable energy, and result in cleaner environment with less greenhouse effect. It will also enable the Republic of Ireland to achieve its international commitment by fulfilling its national targets renewable energy usage.

 

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The Definition of Renewable Energy and the Current Status of Energy Consumption in Ireland. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/the-definition-of-renewable-energy-and-the-current-status-of-energy-consumption-in-ireland-essay

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