Energy is used for various purposes. In the modern industrialized world, it is used both for domestic and industrial purposes. According to Boyle, 2004, the world consumes 6×1013 kilowatt-hour annually. The challenge that the world is facing is the depletion of energy sources mostly non-renewable sources. On the other hand, the burning of fossil fuels is also a major cause of global warming. Since the start of the 20th century, there have been calls by national and international bodies to countries, companies, and households to adopt clean renewable technology. This paper discusses available renewable sources of energy that the world can tap; it will focus on programs adopted in Qatar.
Definition and brief information
Renewable energy is a source of energy whose current generation use will not deplete the potential of future generation use. The energy comes from naturally occurring, which can be tapped to produce energy. It is also considered a clean technology since it emits minimal greenhouse gasses. Examples of renewable energy sources are the sun, tides, waterpower and wind energy. Non-renewable sources of energy on the other hand are sources of energy whose use depletes the level of utility that can be derived by future generations.
Fossil fuels started forming for the last 345 to 280 million years and the rate that they are used exceeds the rate they are formed. For this reason, the world is faced with the danger of lack of energy at a particular period when these resources are depleted. The high usage of fossil fuels than their creation poses the danger of exhaustion of such sources. Other than the depletion of these energy sources, they emit large volumes of greenhouses. These gasses include carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. The result of the meeting is an increased global sea level. It is estimated that between 1906 –2005, the earth’s surface temperatures raised by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (Twidell & Weir, 2006). The rate of emission has been alarming to a level that 11 December 1997; Kyoto protocol was ratified to persuade different countries to adopt measures to reduce greenhouse emission (Fräss-Ehrfeld & Frss-Ehrfeld, 2009). There have been campaigns to develop technologies for sustainable development. Such technologies include the use of renewable sources of energy. One of the strategies to abide by the protocol and have sustainable development is the use of renewable energy sources, they are:
Sun occurs naturally and is available in most parts of the world, some countries have sun all around the years, and these countries include Qatar, Kenya, Somalia, and South Arabia. Sun can be tapped to produce solar energy. The earth absorbs 4×1017 kWh energy per year; this is approximately 0.1% of what the world requires as energy. Even on a cloudy day, there are approximately 0.8 km-2 during 8 hours of energy produced (Twidell & Weir, 2006). This shows the potential that solar energy has if taped effectively. The basic technology used in taping the sun is the use of reflective lenses, which concentrate the sunrays. The concentrated rays are able to heat water. Heated water produces vapor used to rotate turbines for electricity generation.
Two ways can be used to generate solar energy. The first method is when the solar is used to evaporate water to rotate turbines. Turbines are then used to produce electric power. The second way of tapping solar energy is the use of photoelectric batteries. It is a more efficient way of tapping than the turbine rotation method. Photo solar cells are can also be used to tap solar energy. A single photocell can be used to generate a low voltage of power however, in order to get large voltages; a panel of solar cells is used. The electric energy produced is used to charge solar batteries such as Nickel-Cadmium and lead batteries, which are then used as a source of energy. Technology has been used in different parts of the world. Energy is widespread used in Qatar at the domestic and industrial levels. In Qatar, for example, it is used in traffic lights power supply, heating of eater in homes and factories as well as the running of machinery in industries. In the automobile industry, there are attempts to develop solar-charged motor vehicles (Twidell & Weir, 2006).
The wind is moving air; it is caused by the non-uniform distribution of heat due to solar energy in different regions, which causes the movement of hot from relatively hot places to cold areas. It blows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. The wind has the potential of producing approximately 100 billion watts per year of power. The technology involved in wind energy is converting kinetic energy into electric energy. The wind has kinetic energy, which rotates turbines for electricity generation. Energy is not widely used in Qatar, but the government has started a project to increase the use of energy.
Water Power Hydro Energy
Historically, water wheels were used in various parts of the world to produce mechanical power for milling grain and sugar cane crushing among others. Water that was used was running water from rivers. In a modern hydroelectric plant, water is allowed to pass through tunnels and drive huge turbines whose rotating shafts are connected to electric generators that produce electric power. Kinetic energy from water can be from moving water or artificial dams. Water energy has the potential of producing megawatts of electric power. Hydro energy is produced through conventional processes. The process involves the use of dams to tap potential energy. Potential energy is from an accumulation of water in a dam, then water is left to run down a height referred to as head. When running down, they have kinetic energy, which runs turbines connected to electric generators and electricity is produced. Hydroelectric power generation is affected adversely by the lowering of the water level in the artificial lakes of the dams especially in winter and early summer.
In Qatar, this type of energy is not found, the government is considering building artificial lakes on high places provided by the Gulf water and then using these dams to produce hydro energy (Greenlearning.co, 2010).
The water rises along coasts due to the gravitational attraction of the moon (upwards) and the gravitational pull on earth (downwards). The height that the tides rise varies with regions where certain parts of the world have as high as 2metres high tides while others only manage feet. It also is dependent on the season. This back and forth surging of water can be tamed in narrow tunnels and used to rotate turbines. Tidal power stations have been installed in France, Alaska, Argentina, and Russia. In Qatar, tidal energy utilization is hampered by the closure of the Gulf.
Geothermal energy is generated by tapping the vapor energy of the hot, molten magma coming from the earth’s crust through an opening. Energy from geothermal is limited to places that have vapor. For example, the United States, Iceland, Mexico, Italy, and Japan. When the vapor reaches the earth’s surface, they are moving at a high speed that it can rotate turbines for electric generation. Another way that the vapor is tapped is that it is used to heat water (it comes at very high temperatures), the vapor from heated water is used to rotate turbines for an eclectic generation. In Qatar, there is no naturally occurring geothermal energy generation however, attempts are in process to see whether water can be tapped into hot rocks in the earth’s crust then vapor from the heated water tapped to drive turbines or electricity generation (Greenlearning.co, 2010).
Energy is important for domestic and industrial use. Non-renewable sources are sources, which when used by the current generation, the level of enjoyment of future generations will be depleted. The energy sources do not recur as fast as they are used. Examples of non-renewable energy sources are coal, nuclear power, and fossil fuels. Renewable energy is energy from sources which when used by the current generation does not limit the use by future generations. They recur as fast as they are used. These sources include energy from the sun, water or wind. They also have the advantage that they emit minimal greenhouse gasses. When renewable energy is used, then the world will have sustainable development.
Boyle, G.(2004). Renewable energy: power for a sustainable future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fräss-Ehrfeld, C. & Frss-Ehrfeld, C. (2009). Renewable energy sources: a chance to combat climate change. New York: Kluwer Law International.
Greenlearning.co.(2010). Adventure in Renewable energy technology. Web.
Twidell, J. & Weir, A. (2006). Renewable energy resources. New York: Taylor & Francis.