What Are the Main Barriers to Renewable Energy?
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President Biden initiated a climate change prevention policy upon entering office. He designed the Build Back Better plan to support the clean energy sector and increase green employment opportunities. Biden also established a national carbon-neutrality goal, reducing atmospheric degradation. Meeting the goal requires a mass restructuring of the energy grid. Professionals plan on creating a clean electric grid using renewable power sources, transitioning away from fossil fuels. Before they move forward with the project, environmental engineers and scientists must improve green technology, eliminating the barriers to renewable energy.
The Demand for Clean Energy
Before we evaluate the structural limitations associated with solar and wind power, we must assess their demand in the energy sector. Today, nearly 80% of our energy supply derives from fossil fuels. The power source supports the transportation sector, agricultural development, electricity production and more.
Natural gas, coal and oil all release greenhouse gas emissions during combustion. When the air pollutants reach the atmosphere, they alter their composition and ability to regulate surface temperatures. Earth relies on the environment’s consistent composition, creating life-sufficient conditions.
Naturally, the planet transfers solar radiation into heat, warms its surface, absorbs additional energy and sends it to space. Emissions alter the process because they have a higher sunlight-to-heat exchange rate. Additionally, they trap excess energy in the environment, re-filtering it through the heat production system.
Over time, greenhouse gases raise Earth’s temperature, creating adverse ecological effects. Professionals developed renewable energy technology to reduce climate change, conserving the atmosphere. Unlike fossil fuels, solar and wind energy produce zero emissions and derive from non-depletable sources.
The Biden Administration plans on increasing renewable energy production to reduce climate change effects and achieve the carbon-neutrality goal. Though developing a clean electric grid with solar and wind power can effectively minimize atmospheric degradation, the technology also has limitations creating barriers for mass production.
Solar Power Limitations and Supportive Advancements
A significant challenge in the solar power sector is low-efficiency levels. Conventional panels contain between a 15% and 20% production rate. With minimal efficiency power, solar panels alone are unable to support the national energy demands.
They also are unable to withstand high temperatures, degrading their production rates in the summer. When panels reach above 149° Fahrenheit (F), their efficiency decreases abruptly by nearly 60% on average. In direct sunlight, many asphalt shingle roofs reach well over the production limitation rate in the summertime.
Another barrier to solar power is panels’ extensive land requirements. Creating enough clean energy to fuel the electric grid requires a significant amount of open space. Some installation professionals must clear-cut land, making room for solar farms, decreasing regional biodiversity.
Environmental engineers and scientists evaluated the limitations of conventional solar technology and developed sustainable advancements. Professionals created floatovoltic panels, reducing unnecessary land use and overheating. The devices are waterproof and float on top of lakes and the ocean.
The water beneath the panels keeps them cool, reducing the efficiency limitations associated with heat. Professionals also evaluated the barriers to wind energy production, similarly, finding practical solutions.
Wind Energy Limitations and Supportive Advancements
A significant challenge in the wind power sector is biodiversity interference. Wind turbines are the driving factor for bat mortality in America. The devices kill nearly 888,000 bats annually, creating adverse ecosystem effects — one of the major barriers to renewable energy.
Another barrier in the industry, reducing the grid’s complete reliance on wind power, is turbine recyclability rates. Inadequate recycling procedures are creating a mass waste problem. Manufacturers compose various parts of turbines, like their blades, out of single-use materials.
When wind power devices reach the end of their life cycles, professionals transfer them to designated landfills. They burry blades in shallow graves, hiding the waste production issue. Researchers evaluated the non-recyclability and biodiversity challenges associated with turbines and developed sustainable solutions.
Professionals created a wind power production device using drone technology. Unlike traditional turbines, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UVA) flies in circles developing its own wind energy. It connects to a surface-level generator by a thin tether, reducing a winged species collision with a large tower.
Another technological advancement is the bladeless turbine, which reduces non-recyclable waste. Instead of relying on the rotational force for power production, the device vibrates side-to-side when interacting with the wind. The advancements in the solar and wind power sectors show promising potential for a sustainable energy grid.
Is Renewable Energy Worth It?
After evaluating the barriers to renewable energy, individuals may question if it is worth investing in. Though green technology has some downfalls, researchers are constantly developing advancements to improve its efficiency and sustainability. Investing in and adopting clean energy devices will effectively shrink one’s carbon footprint and help America reach its carbon-neutrality goal.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.