Technology plays an important role in our society. Since the beginning of time, humans have developed innovative means to help them with their day-to-day activities and to stabilize economic growth. They have found ways to create different sorts of items to solve their problems and satisfy certain needs, which range from the development of the mechanical clock to human medicine. All kinds of technology have undergone redevelopment over time to adjust to the human flow of life. Currently, one of our biggest concerns with the improvement of technology is to re-innovate it to make it sustainable with the scarce resources.
This is especially so with general purposes technologies, such as electricity, which people are now dependent on in the society. In particular, energy security is a big concern globally as fossil fuel resources dwindle. Some countries have tapped into renewable energy sources and are slowly phasing out fossil fuels. This paper focuses on the growth of renewable energy, the factors that have facilitated it, and the attitude of the citizenry of nations in which this energy has been introduced, such as Iceland and China. It will also explore and review the ideas and viewpoints on renewable energy as well as relate technological advancements and attitudes from different cultures on the subject.
According to researchers, geothermal energy can supply 3.5% of global energy, which can prevent about 800 megatons of CO2 emissions per year (Shortall and Kharazzi 103). It is important now with our high dependency on technology to ensure that this energy could be sustained naturally. It is in this regard that renewable energy has become essential to the development of our society. This essay discusses the purpose and needs for this energy in the society. It will present many effects of this energy on the community, which are both positive and negative. Some of the issues facing renewable energy production include its presentation of to the people as well as challenges posed with types of technology associated with it developed in regions such as urban areas. The cities impact on urbanization-related to the Renewable Energy Consumption Growth (RECG) is also a concept we will relate to the growth of this energy.
Many concerns exist regarding the need for renewable energy such as climate change, but one important factor to take into consideration is the higher demand for energy as our global population grows. The largest growth in energy consumption will come from the least developed countries. As energy use increases, many countries like Iceland and China are working to increase and improve their energy resources. One energy resource that has a growing demand would be our need for electricity. Electric power has now become a necessity in both commercial and household use and since it is easy-to-use and readily available.
Moreover, its value has increased from its reliability and “quality” of supply (Stram 729). Due to the constant demand for it, there are difficulties and long-term issues that come into play when we discuss the challenges of this resource. According to Stram, the costs of electric power are on three levels. There are costs of the facility itself, capital expenses such as land, equipment, and construction, and finally, the substantial infrastructure to maintain the grid system’s stability and reliability, which is a key importance to storing electricity cost-effectively.
Not only does electric power resource carry challenges for which developers are in the process of finding alternatives, but renewable energy also has problems as well. According to Stram, solar and wind energy has many setbacks, such as storing challenges, seasonal supply, and demand, as well as the availability of wind or sunshine.
In China, these challenges are related to the increase in demand as urbanization rises in the country. In the last three decades, the nation has transformed from a generally rural society to a rapidly urbanized one (Yang and Zhang 445). This is highly related to energy consumption, as one increases the other increases as well. The rapid growth of urbanization in developing countries is a key effect on global warming because the concept causes an increase in emissions for all three different income groups. Emissions are highest in the middle-income group (Yang and Zhang 446). The impact of urbanization on China regarding renewable energy can be seen from two different phases. One can show that urbanization changes the mode of production as well as the life that turns the alterations in demand for energy. The other one can show the direct and indirect demand for energy (Yang and Zhang 445).
China has seen significant development in renewable technologies since 2005. Due to the increase in urbanization, society has demanded cleaner air and a decrease in pollution, which in turn has created an increase in their renewable energy consumption. As urban residents became sensitive to pollution, they demanded cleaner energy. This demand has worked positively for the increase and development of renewable energy resources. According to Yang et al., statistics show rapid growth between 2007 and 2012 in renewable energy consumption, with the exception of a few years where this use reduced as energy consumption intensified.
Energy intensity can reflect energy efficiency, an improvement of which can decrease the consumption of renewable energy (Yang and Zhang 449). Thus, a critical challenge in implementing renewable energy resources and systems is evaluating situations and taking into account geographical factors, levels of technology, economic conditions, and cultural influences (Shortall and Kharazzi 103). Regarding these kinds of evaluations, China has had a positive social reaction to renewable energy as they have implemented into their culture the idea and awareness of the sustainable development of these energies and protecting other resources and the environment. Countries like China that can acknowledge the importance of demand in energy such as electric power and limited resources can develop a better renewable energy system with a positive reaction by the societies affected.
Many countries often fail on the account of the social and cultural impacts on the sustainability of technologies. The long-term repercussions of developing sustainability on technologies also play a part in the failing of these assessments. Therefore, a better deep understanding of the cultural factors in a nation can help strengthen the overall comprehension of shaping a country’s policies, government systems, and transforming systems of sustainable energy (Shortall and Kharazzi 101). A positive result of the intertwined relationship between society and renewable energy consumption can be seen from the country of Iceland.
In 2015, 81% of Iceland’s energy supply came from their domestic energy resources with the imported fuel accounting for the remainder (Shortall and Kharazzi 104). The country had successfully transformed from being highly dependent on scarce resources, such as fossil fuel, to creating enough sustainable energy that could even be shared with Europe. Countries like Iceland and China have become dominant in renewable energy consumption by using geothermal technology. Geothermal energy can be seen as an important component of transforming sustainable systems in tectonically active countries like Iceland. Geothermal technology is very attractive to Iceland as a native resource that can contribute to the nations’ energy security. It has low cost, a high capacity factor, reliability and flexibility, which can help contribute up to 3.9% of energy for heat by 2050 in Iceland (Shortall and Kharazzi 105).
A major percentage of renewable energy in Iceland comes from geothermal energy, which its current production stands at 65% (Ragnarsson 2). The country is also the largest producer of renewable energy, a large portion of which is geothermal, hydropower, wind, and solar energy in that order. Most of the energy is also produced from indigenous sources. The nation has a high precipitation, which facilitates the production of hydroelectric power from water. Hydropower was first harnessed at the beginning of the 20th century in 1904. Moreover, it has grown immensely over the years.
It is notable, however, that while the renewable energy sources have supplied most of the country’s energy for the better part of the last two decades, the nation has still not been able to completely eradicate the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels account for less than 15% of energy production whereby they are mainly used in the transport sector (Li et al. 1465). Geothermal energy production in Iceland did not gain prominence in power production until the 1980s. While the country had its first geothermal plant by 1969, there are various factors, which hindered the growth of geothermal energy harnessing (Ragnarsson 7).
First, the country has become too familiar with hydroelectric power for which small power plants had been established. At that point, hydropower was less expensive compared to the cost that would have to be incurred in order to facilitate geothermal power harnessing. Secondly, the proposed construction of a major geothermal plant in the 1970s and Krafla stalled and was marred by political interference. Thus, it turned out to be far more expensive than necessary. The growth of industries, which would provide the market for power, was also slow during the same period; hence, leading to a lack of demand that in turn made the large-scale production of geothermal power unnecessary (Li et al. 1467). The process of constructing geothermal power plants, therefore, became sluggish until the 1990s.
The largest amount of geothermal energy has been used in district heating. This has led to the growth of geothermal energy production by providing the demand, and therefore, making it profitable for power companies to provide it. Notably, this form of heating is also less costly and very convenient for the citizens. It has also brought about massive savings if the alternative cost of using fossil fuels for heating is taken into account. Quality of life has also increased tremendously due to geothermal heating. Geothermal energy is also used for heating swimming pools and melting the glacial water (Ragnarsson 5). Iceland’s renewable energy production per capita is the highest in the world. This can be attributed to the relatively small population using the enormous amount of renewable energy generated.
The high-energy consumption per capita has also been attributed to the availability of cheap geothermal energy (Ragnarsson 5). It has been argued that had geothermal energy not been as economical, the Iceland citizens would not have used energy at the current rates. It is likely that they would have exercised more restraint and come up with efficient methods of energy use. Aside from the monetary paybacks, Iceland’s citizens have benefited from cleaner air, as their energy generation methods have minimal or no emissions. Moreover, it has promoted a culture in which the citizens operate in such a way as to register the least carbon footprint. As expected, the transport sector, inclusive of fishing vessels, leads to the level of carbon emissions due to the use of fossil fuels. Geothermal energy is also used for a number of activities such as greenhouse heating, fish farming, and recreational heating (Ragnarsson 6).
China remains by far the largest renewable energy producer and market in the world. Its production capacity has been increasing exponentially for the last two decades. However, it still relies on renewable energy for approximately one-quarter of its energy needs due to the high demand for energy in the nation. In terms of electricity production, renewable sources account for approximately 24% of energy and have been increasing over the years due to the rise in energy demand. This can be majorly attributed to the high industrial growth and the need for a constant energy supply for the households of approximately 2 billion citizens (Zhang et al. 345). The exponential growth in the energy sector is mainly due to Chinas approach to the matter, whereby the country is after energy security as well as the reduction in emissions.
Wind energy accounts for a significant part of renewable energy production in China and has grown exponentially over the last 15 years. China grew its installed capacity of wind power generation by over 100% annually in the three years ending 2009. The nation had installed a capacity of 3400 MW by 2007, which is up from a meager 769MW three years earlier. It currently the world largest wind energy producer and continues to grow. The growth of the country’s wind energy production has been complemented by the exponential growth in the wind turbine production industry (Zhang et al. 347). The Chinese government has instituted a local content purchase policy, which has made a foreign purchase of wind power equipment to fall to a mere 12% in 2010, compared to 75% in 2004. The Chinese government institutes policies that lay a heavy emphasis on local production and sourcing.
In solar PV energy production, the Chinese PV market has grown to represent 8.1% of the world total as of 2012. Solar energy had been somewhat neglected by the Chinese government in the earlier years of the new millennium due to the emphasis laid on wind energy. However, the government renewed its efforts in facilitating the growth of solar PV energy generation, which has steadily risen in the last 10 years (Zhang et al. 348). Moreover, China is currently the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic technology applications owing to internal sourcing policy (Li et al. 1468).
Aside from wind and solar energy, China is among the leading nations in the production of biofuels, which are fuels produced from plant matter. Twenty percent of automotive fuel in China is produced from them. However, they are the renewable energy sources marred by the most controversy. The sustainability of their production has been questioned due to the use of plant material that is also used as food. Therefore, the competition between food and bio-fuel arises, which is undesirable and introduces sustainability concern given that the world population is increasing. This could also lead to the escalation in the prices of plants used in biofuel production. Other forms of bio-energy used in China include biogas used for cooking and lighting.
In conclusion, China also has extensive resources in terms of geothermal energy although its use, especially directly, is still below the Icelandic levels. However, it is evident that the two nations are at the top of the list of the countries that have harnessed renewable energy. Other nations that have made advances in this energy production include the US, Germany, France, and Japan. Renewable energy production via wind and photovoltaic means has only come to prominence in the last 15 years through the discovery of economically viable methods.
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