Being pragmatic about energy sources

Source: The post is based on the article “Being pragmatic about energy sources” published in Business Standard on 3rd January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: concerns associated with adoption of clean energy.

News: The Russia-Ukraine war has again made countries dependent on fossil fuels for energy generation which has impacted the adoption of clean energy.

What is needed towards adoption of clean energy?

There is a need for proper storage technology for renewables and without it solar and wind capacities will need gas-powered plants for energy generation.

There are announcements made about giga-storage factories that can power the world but we are still several years away from such energy storage technologies.

What are the reasons behind delay in storage technology?

First, laboratory experiments for bringing up storage technology that can power large numbers of homes, factories and offices require time, capital and engineering expertise.

Second, better battery capacities for storage requires an increase in the mining activities and mineral supply. For example, solar panels and wind turbines need minerals. Some varieties are easily available but there are many minerals that are relatively rare.

As per the expert, billions of tones of minerals will need to be mined over the next few decades to ensure that ambitious clean energy goals of developed countries are met.

However, the problem with mining is that it is not clean, causes ecological damage and requires a large amount of energy from thermal-fueled power plants.

What are other concerns with the adoption of green hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is produced by the process of electrolyzing water using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power. It is considered among the cleanest of fuels.

However, green hydrogen costs too much to be a replacement for natural gas.

Furthermore, there are leakage problems associated with hydrogen. Hydrogen is highly inflammable and requires special containers and pipes to transport safely. Still, some of the gas leaks into the atmosphere causing environmental damage.

Therefore, all energy sources have negatives and the government must keep this in mind that fossil fuel will be needed for the energy generations in the coming decades.

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