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Sustainable Technology at its Peak through Renewable Energy Consolidation
Posted by Sharolyn Vettese on Apr 25, 2014 9:20:00 AM
Over the past year, the different types of renewable energy such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro have been consolidated. This indicates a big leap in sustainable technology as it shows how the combination of the different types of renewable energies can complement each other. So now, energy generation can simply be categorized into renewables (those mentioned above) and non-renewables (fossil fuel, natural gas and nuclear).
Consolidation is likewise indicative of a maturing industry, but it also shows that government funding gave renewable energy a good headstart to facilitate the progress that has mostly benefited solar energy. Sadly, most of the players who invested in the solar energy business have either scaled back or gone out of business. The limited government funding starkly contrasts with the non-renewable sector, which has been receiving significant government subsidies in the past decades. Even the most profitable companies benefited from it, however, the only difference is that their substantial subsidies are hidden.
For example, as a relatively newcomer to non-renewable energy, the nuclear sector in Canada was funded by the government. It was only during the time when the Canadian government finally found a buyer for Candu Energy Inc. that they were willing to disclose their investment in supporting the nuclear sector. The Canadian government revealed that it has invested $21B in the span of 60 years when 3 years ago it was bought by SNC Lavalin for $15M. It is likely that the $21B did not include all costs incurred both in the past decades or in the years to come.
The truth of the matter is that consolidation in the renewable energy sector was only brought about by the continued attacks of politicians and vested parties who lobbied on their advantage when comparing the cost of generating energy. This misinformation was manipulated by those who wanted to keep the status quo, including consumers.
However, the bigger picture to look at is the reality that we are facing – governments today would be bankrupt if they ventured in the private sector. They do not have enough funds to take over the replacement of the energy infrastructure that is decades, if not centuries old. Even now, they have trouble in just repairing some of the broken energy infrastructure; and if governments did have the money, it would still take years or even decades to construct. Furthermore, the old centralized infrastructure is extremely vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, ice storms, flooding, etc. If a combination of extreme weather events would occur at the same time, there are not enough first responders to handle with the situation.
It is probably safe to say that energy makes our lives easier. We can also assume that power outages can be dealt with if they are infrequent and short. However, the vulnerabilities of the system are already apparent. All that we need now is the desire to address the problem. Afterall, prevention is always better than cure. In order to prepare for this scenario, governments need to provide transparency on the cost of generating both renewable and non-renewable energies to educate consumers, politicians, and businesses so that everybody can make informed choices as stakeholders take into account its environmental, social, and economic costs.
The sooner transparency on full-cost accounting information is provided, the sooner all of us can make informed choices, including acceptance of the fact that generating energy is not cheap. It will soon be apparent that the cheapest way to conserve energy is to reduce the use of it. The conservation and implementation of energy efficiency technologies will naturally occur when the prices of energies rise. Higher energy prices need to be maintained to encourage continued conservation during the transition. This was already done by the automotive industry in the 1970s. As soon as we start implementing easy solutions such as energy conservation and greater efficiency, we can then start to modernize our energy system to be resilient, responsive and cost effective to meet the needs of the 21st century.
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