Big companies turning to renewable energies

It’s due to melting glaciers, the global temperature rise and nonrenewable energies exploitation that scientists, activists and influencers are doing everything they can to put green and renewable energies in vogue to somehow create awareness followed by firm actions to stop a future disaster. On this scenario, big companies are forced to take on a role on the matter. The great news is that many of them actually have taken a green role with their products perhaps because change now is unavoidable.

Nowadays, news all over the world confirm that more countries and regions are going full on green energies and renewable sources up to 100 percent. As a consequence now a growing percentage of the world’s energy is coming from sun power, wind power and hydropower. In fact, to be more specific these are the most recent numbers:

“According to the recent data, some countries are entirely or mainly relying on renewable energy for their regular consumption. Countries like Paraguay and Iceland are 100% on renewable energy while Norway is 98.5 and Costa Rica is 99.

Regions like Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany are100% on renewable energy. Similarly, Quebec and British Columbia in Canada are also 100% entirely on renewable energy sources.

These sources usually come in the form of solar, wind, hydropower, or geothermal energy. Currently, 25% of the planet’s energy comes from renewable sources. However, there are predictions from the International Energy Agency that says 40% of Earth’s energy would come from renewable sources by the year 2040.”

These aforementioned data cannot be stressed enough in this article mainly because this is the reason why companies such as General Electric, Chevron, Shell and some companies in the vehicle industry such as Tesla are forced to follow the green renewable path. Here are the Top 3 companies that are turning to renewable energies.

1. General Electric Renewable Energy

General Electric has been investing a great deal in massive operations in the renewable energy sector. This outlook comes from looking at the new market opening ahead for green energy in many sectors. GE Renewable Energy is one of the largest wind turbine suppliers around the world. This company also supplies generators of hydro turbines, and their footprint is on the 25 percent of the total installed resources around the world. This initiative also includes to have hybrid energy storage systems that will be generated by renewable energy to be used in the future.

2. Tesla

The market capitalization for Tesla is $4.2 billion and their focus area is electric vehicles, solar panels and battery storage. Their strategy was making top premium sport cars to early takers on electric cars and nowadays has helped shrink the cost of manufacturing Electric Vehicles (EV) which makes them more affordable and so more mainstream. On the other hand, the company has evolved from EVs to solar panels that users can use to recharge their car on their own house. All this while still keeping their business ecofriendly.

3. NextEra Energy

This company has its heart and soul into building a sustainable future by investing substantially into infrastructures that will allow clean energy development. NextEra Energy started in 1925 and it has become the energy leaders in today’s market with a market capitalization of $100 billion by being greater producers of wind and solar energy.

One of the new adventures ahead is also stressing some of their many projects as working on wind repowering projects to boost the output at some of its legacy facilities. With ample growth opportunities, NextEra Energy Partners has plenty of power to continue increasing its higher-yielding dividend at a fast pace in the coming years.

Renewable energy, Green energy and clean energy

Given that now brands and companies are going green, bio or clean to contribute to a better planet for future generations, it’ll probably be a good idea to understand what these concepts mean to the environment, to the product you are purchasing and to your surroundings. On the other hand, in terms of energy the majority of these concepts also apply, but not all of them, this means that renewable energy, green energy and clean energy are not interchangeable. It is vital to differentiate them to understand the consequences they really have on the environment, and also it gives you a better clue on the advances of green power and sustainability within your local economy.

So let’s start to unveil green, bio or clean on products you normally buy; let’s say you want to buy a bio green product, this generally means that the chemicals used to make that product come from a technological process within the biomass context. This means that the product is a comes out from feedstock or organic living plants or recently living plants, vegetables or organic waste transformed into great fertilizer, cleaning products and chemicals that did not contribute to large greenhouse emissions and air pollution. When talking about food it means that is not processed and the planting and harvesting method is eco friendly and has a low environmental impact. 

On the other hand, and in a large scale when you find out that your local community’s electricity is sustained by a clean coal plant this does not mean that is renewable or that is green energy, what it means is that technological efforts are being used to lower the greenhouse gasses emissions to cause a lower environmental impact.  Now if you are convinced that this initiative is not enough to fight climate change, then you may be right, however is a start to go from non-renewable to renewable energy sources. 

In order to understand this transition let’s start by how to understand renewable energy, green energy and clean energy.

Renewable energy

All renewable energy has two main characteristics, first of all they do not deplete. This means that by using this type of energy humankind is not reducing or consuming the source to its minimum. Second of all, renewable energy can be replenished on a human life’s time. This means that the source can be restored, it can be make new again in short time and this process can go on for 60 years at least. Nevertheless, even though these are all great news, not all renewable energy are inherently green energy. This means that hydroelectric resources can have environmental impacts because the land use can be too much for wildlife habitat and it becomes unsustainable.

Green energy

Green energy is the term used to describe a subset of renewable energy which boats low or zero emissions and low environmental impacts to systems such as land and water. In addition, it also includes technological aid to provide the highest environmental benefits. Green energy is also committed to not only lower or reduce to zero emissions but also to diminish carbon footprint.

Clean energy

Clean energy is a term that comprises technology to reduce greenhouse emissions to conventional or nonrenewable energy sources. As an example we read about clean coal plants, clean nuclear plants, and clean gas plants. These plants do produce less environmental impact but even so they still produce a significant amount of gas emissions and air pollution which is still highly problematic and dangerous. Some websites interchange clean energy and green energy but that might not be the case at all.

Renewable sources are water, sun, wind, biomass, tidal energy and geothermal. Due to irresponsible use these sources can have an impact on the environment and could not be green. A green energy can be used from the sun and the wind.

Geothermal, Biomass, Tidal Energy?

Since the breakthrough of technology that took everything to the next level by exploring uncharted territories for better or for worse in humankind history, a better and sustainable way has come up to face climate change. Following this positive side, we’ll discuss a bit the better part of it that is driving (or at least trying to) the planet to a safer future. What scientists, technologist and engineers have done is using the power of plentiful and inexhaustible natural resources and making them into sustainable clean energy for us humans to use on a daily basis not only for domestic use but for our industries. which impacts our economy and transforms the way we have been producing our food, transportation means and communication channels.

On this note, natural resources translate into every resource not created by any man but that has been given to use by nature. To better understand this, we could begin by looking back to what we know, for instance, humankind has known to use hydropower for over 2000 years when Greeks used water wheels to grind grains. Also, we have been known to use wind power to propel boats across the Nile River over 5000 years and 200 years ago humans have been trying to use sunlight as power through solar cells. What makes it mind-blowing about technology is the fact that you can always go beyond your thinking, in fact today’s science plus technology have harnessed the internal heat of the earth to generate energy, it has also used living or recently living organisms and WASTE to produce energy and also the rise and fall of tides to create electricity.

It seems incredible how much knowledge and resources we have been and will be able to make use of by having a wider and deeper understanding of our surroundings. As a result of questionings, testing and initiatives today we have Geothermal, Biomass, and Tidal energy. To have a clearer understanding of how these new forms of energy came to be, we will briefly describe the technology and reasoning behind each renewable energy source here mentioned.

Geothermal Energy

The energy that uses the internal heat of the earth in hot water and steam to produce electricity and or heating houses and entire buildings. This idea started in Italy when the steam coming from natural vents and drilled holes was used to extract boric acid from the hot pools that are now known as the Larderello fields. The first geothermal electric power plant was created in 1904 by scientist Piero Ginori Conti and it was the first time steam was used to generate power. 18 years later the first geothermal plant was installed in USA with a capacity of 250 kilowatts and then in 1946 first ground-source geothermal heat pump installed at Commonwealth Building in Portland, Oregon.

Nowadays, this energy source is used in over 20 countries that are actively under earthquakes and volcanoes and it only accounts for 1% of the world’s energy, but the great news about geothermal energy is that is reliable and consistent for power generation. However, the costs for testing and installing this energy in an area has relatively high costs, plus if done irresponsible it could lower the temperature on the internal side of the earth.

Biomass Energy

Biomass refers to the use of feedstock to be transformed as energy or fuel. Biomass was the primary source of energy prior to the industrial revolution, because combustion was used to create fire which was used for cooking, heating and producing energy. However, before the technological breakthrough biomass energy was used in an unsustainable way.

Going back to how can we use biomass in a sustainable way, it is crucial to understand that first feedstock is the term that comprises organic living material which can be plants or recently living plants logs, grass, corns, trees and waste. Second, each organic material will have either carbon, water or organic volatiles than can be processed to produce ethanol which is an organic liquid fuel that can be used in vehicles, syngas to produce energy and heat, bio-oil to fuel boilers, engines, and turbines for heat and power generation and when upgraded can also be used as transportation fuel and chemicals as fertilizer. Other sustainable products can be biochar, bio-gas, digested (a great fertilizer). Third, this energy source can be used in a sustainable way by doing a thorough planning of availability of resources, type of energy desired and availability of technology which can be high cost in some contexts.

Tidal Energy

Also known as tidal power it harnesses the power of the natural rise and fall of tides into electricity. This means that this form of energy is a type of hydropower that is used on the deeper side of the sea. In order to transform tides into energy, there are types of tidal dam-like structures that can be installed along coastlines if the water level reaches at least 5 meters, then this turbines are connected to generator to produce energy. These structures are tidal barrages, tidal fences and tidal turbines being tidal barrages the most efficient of them because it takes advantage of the changes in high and low tides to produce energy.

The downside of this energy source is that the site specifications are not fit for every area, and many times the energy power produced by the tides does not match the energy needed in many houses, buildings and industries. The positive side is that this energy source is predictable, is easy to install, renewable, it has lower environmental impact and no greenhouse emissions.

Renewable Energies, Why?

Sustainability is a term widely looked for in earth’s science since scientist broke the news on the endangered planet’s health due to pollution and constant rise of the planet’s temperature after the industrial revolution. However, the first signs of a global warming type of news on TV were broadcasted in the 50, but books and magazines have published on climate change since the 1940s (Climate and Man), this means that previous generations have looked into climate change and global warming with concern. Nowadays, scientists, journalists and investigators are not approaching the topic with mere curiosity or slight worry but with alarming attitude towards the possible devastating future we might hold.

Precisely, due to the devastating consequences of global temperature rise, pollution and non-renewable energy sources many scientists, entrepreneurs and green activists have worked to spread the news on stressing the importance of turning towards to renewable energies. The positive aspects of them have been widely discussed and nowadays renewable energies is the sector that has been steadily increasing within the energy industry over the years.

In consequence, renewable energies is a term that has been in vogue for the last 2 decades. To define them simply, they are the counterpart of non-renewable sources embodied in fossil fuel energy, coal energy and petroleum among others. The term renewable is applied due to positive characteristics each of these energies have, they can be replenished during a human’s life time and they do not deplete. In other words, these renewable sources can stand through time because they are a never ending, safer and cleaner energy humans can use while protecting the planet from floods, heat waves and contaminated water.

How can we understand renewable energies source?

To better understand the use of these renewable energies is best to look back at how humans approached different sources of energy prior to industrial revolution. In those days, we have records of two common renewable energies that helped food production. We used to harness hydropower and wind source of energies to facilitate the food production process to be carried out in an easier and faster way.  

Nowadays, mankind has put a lot of effort into using technology to find other sources of renewable energies by harnessing the earth’s internal heat, the sun and the plants for instance. This indicates that a common ground for this green option are natural resources such as the sun, the plants, the earth, corn and even the moon. What makes them positive, useful and innovative are the fact that we will not run out of them and their use will not have a negative impact on the planet’s temperature. Another favorable fact is they do not pollute the air, the grounds and the ocean.

On the other hand, it is equally important to weight the challenges renewable sources face every day, the counterpart is that when they are to be deployed at a large scale, they can be low efficient, very expensive and intermittent. For this reason, renewable sources only accounts for 13.5 % of the world’s energy and 22% of the world’s electricity. Even though these challenges are yet to be surpassed, these green options are the fasted growing energy supply on the planet.

The better side of it, accounts for positive and encouraging effects on the planet by saving millions of animal lives and therefore millions of ecosystems will get to be regenerated to the point of having healthier and more food options different from cows and chickens to consume. In addition to it, is crucial to point out that we will be doing a massive damage control to floods, heat waves, food shortage and an putting an end to animal death by starvation.