It’s no secret that green energy research is critical to the future of our planet. With concerns about climate change and sustainability mounting, governments and private institutions are investing more money into renewable energy research.
Nature offers a mix of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources. However, most types of fossil-based energy sources contribute to global warming by releasing CO2 into the air.
The 7th SDG goal aims for the global production of renewable energy that’s reliable, sustainable, and affordable. Getting there requires research and innovation in the green energy sector.
So, what are the key areas of green energy research, and why is it so important? Let’s take a closer look.
What is green energy research?
Green energy research is the study of how to generate energy using renewable resources like solar and wind power and how to make existing forms of energy production more efficient and less damaging to the environment.
This research is critical to developing sustainable energy solutions that meet the growing demand while also reducing our impact on the planet.
Critical areas of sustainable energy research
There are three main types of green energy research: solar, wind, and hydro.
- Solar energy research is focused on finding ways to harness the sun’s power more efficiently, whether that’s through developing new photovoltaic materials or improving solar thermal technology.
- Wind energy research is working on making turbines more efficient and discovering new ways to generate electricity from wind power.
- Hydro research is focused on finding ways to use the potential of hydroelectric power better. It also seeks to find better ways of minimizing the impact on the environment and ecosystems.
Other interesting areas
Geothermal energy potential
While many countries worldwide have hot geysers, few have tapped them to generate energy.
Researchers need to find efficient and economical ways to tap the power without affecting surrounding ecosystems.
Fossil fuel-free engines
According to a UNEP report, transportation contributes almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The world simply must find sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel engines in cars, airplanes, ships, industrial machines, and others.
Some promising research areas include hydrogen fuel cells, better car batteries, alternative materials for clean energy generation and storage. Recycling battery materials is an exciting area too.
Imagine a home or office building that generates its energy instead of relying on the grid.
There’s much talk of “decentralization” with the blockchain and other Web3 technologies. Perhaps the concept can be applied to energy generation to make our homes, grids, and countries more resilient.
Sustainable energy storage
Another critical area of green energy research is finding new ways to store energy.
This is important because renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are not always available, depending on the weather. If we can find ways to store energy, we can use it when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing.
Importance of green energy research to modern society
There are several reasons why green energy research is so important.
Combat climate change
Green energy research is key to fighting climate change. Clean, affordable, and sustainable energy technologies are much more environmentally-friendly than traditional forms of energy generation.
If countries are to meet their climate change targets, renewable energy must rise significantly from current levels.
Increased demand for energy globally
As populations increase and innovation rises, energy demand grows too.
The construction of new buildings, the production of gadgets and machines raises the demand for energy production.
As demand for energy rises, there’s a need for better and safer energy sources. Deeper engagement in green energy research will help close the gap.
Pollution is getting worse
Pollution due to fossil-fuel use is getting worse. We’re already experiencing the adverse effects of global warming like flooding, wildfires, melting glaciers, and other extreme climatic conditions.
Unless we hasten green energy research to mitigate these effects, we might irreversibly damage the world’s ecosystems.
These budding industries can absorb the youthful population in developing nations. They can also offer alternative opportunities to workers displaced from the fossil fuel industry.
Lots of untapped energy
Think about it; the sun shines every day, the wind blows, waters flows fast, waves crash on beaches, hot geysers splash from under the earth.
These are all potential sources of energy that we can harness to power growth and provide economic opportunities. However, we need research to learn how to integrate them efficiently and economically.
For our health
One unfortunate bit about fossil fuels is that they produce harmful compounds to humans and other animals.
Every year, we spend billions of dollars treating diseases resulting from air, water, and soil pollution from using fossil fuels and their derivatives, such as plastic.
There is an increase in lung diseases, heart infections, cancer, and other diseases that we must urgently address. Cleaner energy could also act as a preventive measure.
The challenges and future of green energy research
There are several challenges facing green energy research.
One of the biggest is that renewable energy technologies are often more expensive to develop and deploy than traditional technologies. This is particularly true of solar and wind energy, which are still in the early stages of development.
Another challenge is that renewable energy sources are often intermittent, meaning that they can’t always be relied on to generate power. This makes it challenging to integrate them into the grid and raises issues about how to store energy when it’s not being generated.
Making these technologies affordable and accessible to people worldwide is yet another challenge.
There are also significant environmental impacts that need to be considered and social and economic implications. There is still much work to be done to realize the potential of green energy technologies fully.
Despite the challenges, the benefits of green energy research are clear. If successful, these technologies can help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which would help mitigate climate change.
They can also help us improve air quality and create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. The future of green energy research looks bright, and with continued investment and effort, we can make significant progress in this critical field.
Which green technologies excite you most and why? Where do you see the most opportunities? Please let us know in the comments section below and share the post widely if you find it useful. Thanks.