Environmental Science · Science

Conservation of Resources

Introduction

Energy is one of the most significant demands of our life. Without energy human hardly can perform his works and tasks. The different resources of energy give a human chance to improve his lifestyle. Despite some non-renewables resources are depleting, new renewable energy technologies are available now to give choices to the human to balance his demand. Without proper and efficient monitoring and conservation programs, controlling resource can be challenging.

Different Demands of Resources:

Human use energy in many sectors, for example, home occupation, transportation, and industry section. In the human occupation, energy is used for space heating/cooling, operating appliances, cooking and other demands. Natural gas and electricity are the most widely used in commercial and residential buildings. In industry section, electricity, natural gas, and fossil fuels are the most resources utilized in this section. They are employed in different industrials; for instance, power plants, Wastewater treatment plants, and food industries. Fossil fuels, natural gas, and biofuels are used in the transportation section. Recently, electricity is considered a fuel for some new hybrid cars. The climate is the primary factor, in my opinion, that can determine the uses of resources. In both hot and cold areas, air-conditioning is used for space cooling/heating. Electricity and fossil fuels are used in this section.

Energy Resources:

They can be categorized into two categories: Non-renewable and renewable.

Non-renewable:

They are mainly called fossil fuels such as Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas. Coal is an abundant solid resource – about 10 trillion metric tons (P. Cunnigham & A. Cunnigham, 2010), formed by burial of plant fossils in sediments with high temperature and pressure. There are three main types of coal: bituminous, anthracite, and lignite. Oil is formed from the remains of incident organisms in sedimentary where high pressure and temperature applied. It is the most widely used in many sections. A two-third of crude oil is found in the Middle East (McKinney, Schoch, and Yonavjak, 2014). Natural Gas can be found in the same places of oil. It is the third largest commercial fossil fuel more abundant in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. It is 24% of global energy consumption. Nuclear Power is 5-6% of global commercial energy use as there are more than 430 reactors in all over the world. The primary element is Uranium. It is abundant in Earth’s crust, so it is available for extraction. Fission and fusion reactions can produce this Nuclear Power.

Environmental science the global concern p437

Cunningham, W.P., and Cunningham, M.A., 2010, Environmental Science- A Global Concern, New York, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and their production techniques:

There are several RES used nowadays in a wide range. Solar Energy, the sun is the source of this energy which is available in all over the Earth’s surface. Energy produced by converting sunlight into energy by using solar cells. Geothermal Energy; heat generates from inside the Earth’s surface by volcanos or hot springs. It is an abundant renewable resource. The one-third of this energy use found in the U.S (McKinny, Schoch & Yonavjak, 2014). Wind Power; Wind is the primary source of this energy. The Wind is available in many places, such as open areas and mountains. It can be used to produce energy by using wind turbines. They convert wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy which is converted into electrical energy. Its mechanism is when the wind blows; two forces apply, lift – perpendicular to airflow, and drag – in the direction of airflow. Those two forces run the rotor blades and shaft; then the generator produces electricity. Examples of wind farms: Milton Keynes in the UK and Gansu Wind Farm in China. In Hydroelectric Power, electricity can be generated by the movement of water in rivers, dams, and falls. High Dam in Egypt and Niagara Falls are famous examples. River and falls are available all over Earth’s surface. By the movement of water, electrical power is generated by running the turbines. In dams, water flows through a tunnel called penstock and runs the turbines that are connected to an electrical generator. Biofuel is driven from biomass. The primary uses of this fuel are for the transportation sector. It is produced from chemical materials that plant produces by photosynthesis and bio-wastes such as wood and animal wastes. Wood and organism wastes are available on all over the Earth.

01how_wind_turbine_workswindturbineparts

Prezi, Amazing, extraordinary, stunning, unfailing, endless, powerful wind energy, [Online], https://prezi.com/a3nswilhqb6d/1-the-amazing-extraordinary-stunning-unfailing-endless/,[Accessed 15/04/2015]

hydroelectric-hydropower_basics-2.jpg

Heatboard, Hydropower Basics,[image online],http://www.heatboard.com/library/hydroelectric-hydropower_basics.html, [Accessed 15/05/2015]

There are many methods to produce biofuel; by converting vegetable oil that is extracted from soybean to produce bio-diesel, from sugar: by converting the starch in sugar containing plants into ethanol fuel, and from Bagasse: by burning it to make steam. It can be used to operate turbines. Wave Power is produced by the movement of ocean water. This action is used in wave turbines to generate electricity. We can obtain it from all over the ocean area in the Earth. There are many ways to convert wave kinetic energy into electrical energy. For exampleو Oscillation Water Column, Tapchans, Attenuators, Pendular, Rubber hose and Salter Duck. Oscillation Water Column is an onshore system. Electricity can be produced by the air compression that produced from moving the water up and down in the column. The Rubber hose or Giant Rubber Snake technology uses water in the tube. When the tube moves by waves, the water inside the hose will move, which impact the turbine at the end of the hose. Marine Current Technology is one of the best technologies in renewable electricity production as it uses the marine current movement. It is also called Tidal Energy. It looks like wind-miles. A rotor exists in the deep marine. Once the current exists, the rotor moves. The rotor is connected to a generator which generates electricity.

 

marineturbines

 

Future of Learning Group, Wave and Tidal Energy,[image online], http://learning.media.mit.edu/seed/wave%20energy.html, [Accessed 16/04/2015].

Different examples of wave power technologies.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of renewable production. They are clean and cheap sources. Almost all have no Greenhouse Gases (GHS) emissions. Some are continuous resources such as Wave Power and Marine Current Technologies. They help to reduce the fossil fuel consumption, especially in the transportation sector by using biofuels. Ethanol fuel provides fuel with high-octane. They can be used in remote places such as small solar cells and small wind turbines. They can also be used in many small houses. The water stored in hydropower stations can be used for irritation. However, the impact on the ecosystem can exist; for example, wind turbine blades can kill birds and rare golden eagle, tidal turbines can kill marine organisms, and spill and leaks from hydraulic parts in hydropower stations. Dam failure is one of hydropower stations risks; it can cause a flood. In the dam reservoirs, the concentration of salts and minerals is high. Another environmental impact in biofuel production is cutting down trees and burn forests. Burning plants can cause air pollution and reduce the soil’s fertility. In my opinion, although there are some drawbacks for renewable energy, we can avoid some of these drawbacks, for example, we can install ultrasonic repellent to prevent the killing of birds by wind turbines. The environmental impact of renewable energy compared to the GHS emission impact is very minimal and can be avoided easily.

Strategies related to renewable energy in regional, national and global level:

By 2020, the UK plans to deliver 15% of the UK’s energy consumption from renewables. Eight technologies can supply more than 90% of the renewable energy by 2020 (The UK renewable energy Roadmap, 2011). Some examples:

Onshore Wind: Installed more than 4 GW and expected to reach 13 GW by 2020.

Offshore Wind: The UK plans to deliver 18 GW by 2020 and 40 GW by 2030.

Marine Energy: It plans to produce 300 MW by 2020.

Biomass Electricity: in 2010, UK produced 2.5 GW and it can be raised to 6 GW by 2020.

Biomass Heat: 12.4 TWh has been generated in 2010 and expected to reach up to 50 TWh by 2020.

In transportation, the UK met 14.1 TWh.

Regionally, EU plans to meet 100% renewable supply by 2050 (erec, 2012). The Directive 2009/28/EC initiated the target of 20% of the overall share of energy from renewable energy and a 10% target for transportation. In electricity; EU plans to achieve 21% of its electricity from renewables by 2010. EU decided to increase renewable power capacity up to 520 GW by 2020. By 2050, renewable electricity will supply 100% of the EU’s energy demand. In transportation, EU has a plan to meet 9% of the fuel from biofuels (RE-Thinking 2050, 2010). Globally, I would like to discuss China’s strategy as I think it is the one of developing countries; it has an excellent plan. China has the plan to produce more than 30% of its energy from renewables by 2050. It has a strategy to develop 120.000 MW by 2020 (Inc. IBP, 2015). In 2013, China produced 378 GW from hydropower and wind power, Solar PV power & smart grid technologies (Wikipedia, 2015). In wind-power, the plan target decided by the government was 10 GW by 2010, but China achieved 25.1 GW by the end of 2009. Biomass & Biofuel; the Kaiyou Green Energy Biomass Power project is set to produce 144 GW/year.

Resources Monitoring

Organizations and governments monitor resources in order to initiate and improve their plans and strategies. The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change, (DECC), issue an annual review of non-renewable energy consumption and changes in efficiency. This annual review called Energy Consumption in the United Kingdom (ECUK). The report is divided into five chapters: Overall energy consumption in the UK, Transport sector energy consumption, Domestic sector energy consumption, Industrial sector energy consumption & Services sector energy consumption. This is an excellent method, I believe, to monitor consumption of fossil fuels and demand. For renewables, the DECC issues UK Renewable Energy Roadmap. It is a very useful for policy makers as it mentions the progress of renewable technologies and projects. In my opinion, it is insufficient to monitor renewables, but on the other hand, it can be a concrete base for monitoring the UK target in renewable technologies. Globally, World Energy Resource report is an excellent report to control both renewable and non-renewable resources. It is produced by the World Energy Council (WEC) as it produces a survey of the energy resources report since 1933. It is one of the most efficient reports in monitoring energy resources.

Resources Depletion

Resources, especially fossil fuels, are in danger of depletion due to many factors such as overpopulation, overconsumption and the changing lifestyle of a human. Overpopulation is the main factor that can impact the resources. The depletion of resources can cause changes in human lifestyle which will affect the world GDP. I would maintain that the highest country economy, the largest resources use. Another impact of depletion is increasing in prices of the resources, which may lead to increase in its transportation costs and methods. Not even the cost of resources transportation will be the issue; the food also will be a big problem. For example, depletion of oil may lead to raise oil prices. Hence, the cost of food transportation will increase as well, and the cost of food will also increase. The extraction costs of resources will increase that will reflect on transportation costs as well. When the energy resources produced, it has to be delivered to consumers, so the transportation of resources can be considered a part of power generation.

There are different means of transportation:

Railroads, Trucks, a conveyor, a barge, and pipelines are regarded as a way of delivering the non-renewable resources. For coal, the best way for delivery is railroads. I think it is better for the environment as it is cheaper and faster while leaks or spills can occur by a barge in the oceans. The coal slurry pipeline is better for transporting significant amounts of coal over-long distance. It is more cost-effective and with minimum environmental impact. However, for oil and natural gas, the pipeline is the most used methods. Some people say that it is not safe as any crack or break in the pipeline, the leak may exist to soil. I believe with some precautions; it can be more efficient, cost-saving and time-saving method. The second active means are compressed cylinders and LNG tanks for natural gases and tankers for petroleum to be transported overseas. Both methods are easy to transport to consumers.  The last mean of transportation is highway truck movement. It can be said a flexible method. However, it has many disadvantages such as; high energy consumption, high costs, and has a potential to damage highway roads. Personally, I do not prefer this method. For renewable resources, the more effective way is transmitters, high-voltage cables and smart grid as the main energy production from renewables is electricity. I think transmitters are a more efficient method as they cover hundreds of kilometers. Transmission and distribution networks account for 54% of the global capital assets of electric power (IEA, 2004d). Hydrogen and biofuels can be delivered through pipelines or in compressed cylinders which can be transported easily by trucks.

Energy Conservation

There are many strategies in national and global level. Green Deal in the UK is started in 2013. It is a plan to improve the energy-saving strategy and to control energy consumption at home. For example, insulation, heating, windows and products that generate energy, double glazing, and renewable energy generations. Energy Star is a voluntary program initiated by the US EPA – Environmental Protection Agency, to protect our environment and climate. It is a program to reduce energy consumption in all sectors by using efficient products, practices and services as it provides consumers with many ways to invest in energy efficient solutions. It is succeeded to reduce GHG emissions. In my home, I purchased many Energy Star appliances.

GHG.png

EPA, About Energy Star,[online], https://www.energystar.gov/about, [Accessed 10/06/2015].

Future Energy Issues

Energy resources may face some issues in the future such as economic, global shortage, energy supply and demand. The economic issue and overpopulation and demand are related. I believe that the highest population, the lowest economy growth, the lowest energy efficiency. The countries with low GDP will not be able to provide energy or even to provide energy efficiency plans. The global shortage of resources will make prices high, especially fossil fuel which cannot cover the demand in all countries. The low economic countries will not be able to shift to RE due to the high cost of its production. As per EIA, the future world demand by the countries outside Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (non-OECD) is greater than that of OECD countries.

World primary energy consumption.png

eia, Future World Energy Demand Driven by Trend in Developing Countries,[online], http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=14011,[Accessed 14/06/2015].

From the previous graph, the primary energy consumption of OECD countries is almost stable from 2010 to 2040, while the non-OECD a significant raise of the consumption from 2015 to 2040. Energy use in non-OECD countries is growing by 2.2% per year, and their share will rise from 54% of total world energy consumption in 2010 to 65% (EIA, 2013).  In my opinion, this slower energy consumption every year is due to the corresponding slow growth of their economies.

World Consumption 1World Consumption 2

Eia, World Liquid Consumption by Region,[online], http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2014&subject=0-IEO2014&table=5-IEO2014&region=0-0&cases=Reference-2014_03_21, [Accessed 13/06/2015]

World population is expected to reach 8 million in 2020, and the global economic growth is projected at 3.1% per annum while the world energy use rises by 2% per annum and energy intensity decrease by 1.1% (OECD, 1999). I think these data show that there is a real risk of future energy supply. It may affect the future oil supply as well as the other fossil fuels. The shortage of resources, as mentioned before, can lead to raise resources price. It may result in increase the costs of extraction or to use a low-grade fuel. As energy prices get a rise, the transportation and supply will increase. For example, in the USA, the average cost of railroad coal shipping increases by 50% from 2001 to 2010, as a result, the transportation costs accounted for 40% of the overall cost of coal supplied to power plants in 2010 (EIA, 2013). This example is an excellent example of the relevance resources price and transportation costs.

Managing Future Demands

As we have seen in the previous section, there are many future issues, so we have to control and manage future demand. At this moment, some controls are addressed.

Renewable Resources Use:

Countries have to set policies and strategies to move toward renewable energy and improve their renewable production techniques. It will help to reduce the pressure of demand on non-renewable resources.

Efficiency Improvement:

It is the most preferable and cost-saving strategy. It is a great solution for countries who cannot afford the renewable production. For example, provide more fuel efficient vehicles can conserve fuel. Another example is using energy efficient appliances and lighting applications.

Consumers Behavior:

It can be achieved by changing consumer behavior and practices at homes, offices and transportation. All government should establish energy campaigns on how to use less energy by switching off unused lights, or share a care while going to work if the workers live in the same area and work in the same place.

Reuse and recycling:

It can be achieved by reusing old clothes or material like oil barrels and drums after a proper cleaning and treatment, and recycling some materials. Recycling saves energy as it reduces the needs to extract and reproduce the materials. It is more energy efficient than others as the energy use for recycling is less than that to reproduce the material. Also, it helps to reduce environmental pollution.

Conclusion:

Without energy conservation strategies and control, we cannot limit the energy depletion. Move toward RE and energy efficiency policies can balance energy use. Some organizations have plans to monitor energy consumption to help policy-makers to find out the suitable strategy for balance energy consumption.

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