Energy is essential in just about every facet of life and the production of energy is a key factor in ensuring that a nation can thrive and support its self. Traditionally the majority of energy produced is generated through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gases). This became a solution for human culture with the advent of the industrial revolution however as the times have progressed the need for alternative forms of energy is become ever more apparent. Limited resources threaten to drive up costs in non renewable energy supplies while creating competition that could lead to warfare. Additionally an ever increasing carbon imprint is potentially leading to environmental instability with the emission of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.
To combat these issues the task has fallen to scientists and technologists to devise and implement a solution that could reduce our reliance on fossil fuels (although losing the dependency of these energy sources all together is unlikely). Clean energy technology has been in development for decades however the implementation of these alternative solutions has not been accepted in the world community as a viable solution due to a variety of issues.
So what is a renewable resource and how does it differ from a non renewable resource?
Development of renewable energy resources utilizes some of the most basic elements of nature which occur across the planet to collect energy that can be reused for human needs. Currently the major areas of focus are in wind power, solar power, geothermal power, hydro power and biofuels. The sun, wind, earth, water and plants are present in just about every corner of the planet Earth making these viable solutions to generating electricity for almost any nation. Non renewable energy resources are those which cannot be replenished naturally (or in the example of petroleum ones which cannot be regenerated faster than consumption demands).
The struggle to attain an energy resource which is environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient in energy production is the struggle that many individuals worldwide are trying to resolve and the business of the energy industry is in an ideal spot to take advantage of capital gains in this area. An excellent example of the need for environmentally friendly energy can be seen throughout China who has recently become an industrial powerhouse. The use of coal has driven the urban environment into an almost state of emergency in some major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Air quality levels have plummeted in recent years and health concerns are rising dramatically due to the economic policies emphasized by the Chinese government.
When seeking an alternative energy resource it is essential to take into account the cost of production, efficiency, side effects and economic impact of energy programs. Not all side effects of producing electricity result in environmental catastrophes which can be witnessed in the development of biofuel technologies. While production methods from the wind, sun, water and earth have almost no negative side effects the creation of biofuels exposed an unexpected consequence in the past decade. Government incentives throughout the United States caused many farmers to switch from growing food crops to producing biofuels which led to a shortage of food supplies. Although the shortage did not result in famine or starvation it did drive up the prices of corn temporarily as it was more economically beneficial for farmers to use this in biofuel than for food resources.
The quest to attain the perfect energy resource is one which most likely can only be accomplished by harnessing the ability to gather energy from a multitude of natural renewable sources. Utilizing miniature wind turbines and solar panels on buildings in metropolitan cities is one alternative which looks to be something that may be implemented in large scale programs in the near future.
The need to discover renewable energy resources which can be sustained in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner is become one of the forefront areas of focus in the energy industry. As energy information is collected into the reliability of production methods such as solar energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity and wind energy the implementation of energy technology and policies will most likely change dramatically in the coming decades.