The economic downfall for the renewable revolution

Many of us will have learnt about the various sources of green energy in A level classes. The sun we rely on for warmth, brightness and that holiday glow. The wind we rely on for a cooling breeze and the shifting of clouds across the sky. Water we drink, bathe in and get frustrated with during weeks of British drizzle.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Luckily for us, they are rich sources of energy and given the huge leaps in technology available to us in recent decades we can harness this free, natural energy. Germany is at the forefront of clear, green technology. Government figures state that 22% of Germany’s electricity in 2015 was provided by wind and solar power. This isn’t typical. In Britain, only 14% of UK electricity generation came from all renewable sources combined! However, in Texas, there is so much wind energy some firms give electricity to households for free at night! This all sounds great. Cheaper for the customers, better for the environment.

There is a problem. With energy selling for less that production costs, investment in the sector will eventually stall. When an investor buys into a company they do it for one reason. Profit. So if they put money into a start up hydraulic power station they wouldn’t want their product (energy) being given away for free!

A major problem with green energy is storage. Unlike coal or oil, where the product is sold and burnt over time, when energy is needed, green energy can be unpredictable. However, the very nature of green energy means that on a particularly windy day, more energy will be produced no matter what the demand. There are technologies available for short term storage of green energy however it cannot be kept for months, let alone years.

As a society we have been using fossil fuels to power our energy addiction for millions of years. The answer as to how to integrate green energy into our current systems is difficult however with the devastating impacts of climate change ever more apparent it is a hopeful sign that so many countries are making it their mission to produce energy in sustainable ways.

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