February 19th, 2014
Renewable Energy Deployment: Time to Reinforce Success
The world's rapidly growing population and rising socioeconomic levels have resulted in the
depletion of natural resources. With these unintended consequences, the idea of sustainability has
emerged as the concept of balancing the world's environmental, social equality and economic
demands. Sustainability has become a popular topic of discussion for people all over the world,
given the rising environmental concerns of the increasingly sophisticated public. Out of these three
dimensions, the environmental aspect is especially essential to sustainability, since everything we ...view middle of the document...
The continued use of fossil fuels to produce energy will
put the future generations' need for a stable energy supply at risk. Renewable energy has risen and
become popularly considered a possible path to sustainability. However, just like many other world
goals, this path to a world where every person and country lives sustainably is blocked by
challenges that obstacles that stand in the way of success.
For the promise of renewable energy sources to be achieved, they must be supplied in the
needed volume, at a reasonable cost, and in the required time frame. Fossil fuels are thoroughly
established, with trillions of dollars' worth of infrastructure already in place, while renewable
energy sources still need to overcome the barriers of research for new technologies. First generation
technologies, including hydroelectric and geothermal energy, have been around for almost 100
years. Hydroelectric and geothermal energy have problems with scalability. They are accessible to
only limited areas of the world. Dams used to harness hydroelectricity and volcanoes for
geothermal energy cannot be built and used anywhere. Nature sets restrictions on the scalability of
these renewable energy sources. So, many of these power plants are localized and cannot compete
with the fossil fuels industry.
Second generation technologies, including solar and wind energy, not only face scalability
issues, but also cost issues. At a time of intense debate surrounding the federal budget, the U.S.
government subsidies for wind and solar power are more controversial that ever. But the question is
whether those subsidies are useful and actually making a difference. Solar and wind energy have
failed cost tests. Since the 1990s, solar and wind energy are argued to be close to becoming cost-
effective. However, they are still handed subsidies in hopes reaching that same goal of becoming
competitive with fossil fuels. The unreliability of weather explains why they make up just a small
portion of the world's energy supply despite the high subsidies. Currently, we cannot produce all
our energy sustainably due to the hurdles of high cost and low scalability....