Green energy is energy that uses natural resources with very little pollution. Examples of green energy include anaerobic digestion, geothermal and wind power, hydropower, solar energy and tidal power.
George Monbiot and James Lovelock have both classified nuclear power as green energy although organizations such as Greenpeace do not agree with this and say that they pose a significant risk to both humans and the environment.
Local green energy systems
Those who live in eco-villages are particularly interested in creating their own renewable energy such as using a geothermal heat pump that keeps a constant temperature of the earth. Other renewable energy systems used are solar, wind and small scale hydroelectric power.
After generating renewable/sustainable energy it needs to be stored for use. It is usually stored in a medium. Some examples of this are:-
- Energy carriers as hydrogen, liquid nitrogen, compressed air, oxyhydrogen and batteries, to power vehicles.
- Flywheel energy storage, pumped-storage hydroelectricity is more usable to power homes and offices. To eliminate any possible emissions, carbon capture and storage is then used.
Usually renewable energy comes from the electricity grid. This means that energy storage is not needed as the grid is organised to produce the right amount of electricity being used at that particular moment. The electricity grid is set up to use a combination of renewable/sustainable energy plants as well as fossil fuel plants and nuclear plants. This means that energy can be taken from all types of plants, ie wind turbines, solar power plants, nuclear plants according to the most energy being produced at that time therefore providing a steady flow of energy. The main advantages of renewable energy plants is that they provide power at a regulated place and are available as power sources at any time, even at night and times where there is no need or sun. There are still very few of these plants at present and cannot always meet demand at certain times of the day and night.
It has been said that nuclear power can be classed as sustainable energy. However before it can be more widely used there are numerous safety and environmental issues to be considered.
Patrick Moore and Christine Todd Whitman who both chair the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, say that nuclear power is as environmentally friendly as traditional sources of renewable and sustainable energy. They pointed out that nuclear power plants produce little CO2 and the radioactive waste produced is minimal compared to fossil fuels. However others object to nuclear power on the grounds that it is not price competitive due to the use of government companies to store and protect the waste.
No power source is entirely pollution free. All power sources require energy and inevitably will cause some pollution from the manufacture of the plant through to its ongoing operation. Some object to these plants on the grounds they will be an eyesore, others point to the cost. Whatever the reasons for their objections we must all realise that we cannot rely on fossil fuels for ever and new sources of producing energy must be invested in if we are to secure our planet’s future.