What is renewable energy:
Renewable energy is a type of energy that is produced from natural sources such as wind, sun, water, etc. In contrast to fossil fuels, by consuming these types of energies, people can reduce their carbon footprint, and therefore, potential risks of climate change will be decreased when we start to use renewable energies instead of fossil fuels. Thus, it is possible to say that renewable resources will be the key factor to struggle with climate crises. (United Nations, 2023) Furthermore, using renewable energies sustains a lot of other advantages for us. For instance, job opportunities might be increased as a result of building facilities that are used to transform natural sources into electricity; or we can convey electricity to remote places from the center such as villages, towns, and islands using renewable energy more easily. (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, 2023). There are types of renewable energy and they will be explained in continuous paragraphs.
Solar energy is the most used type of renewable energy in the world. Even though it is produced from the sun, it can be sustainable in cloudy weather. Also, it offers a huge capacity for producing energy since “The rate at which solar energy is intercepted by the Earth is about 10,000 times greater than the rate at which humankind consumes energy.” (United Nations, 2023). Moreover, solar energy can be used for several reasons. For instance, it can be used for cooling, heat, natural lighting, and electricity.
Photovoltaic panels and mirrors are used for converting sunlight to electrical energy. Even though the production of these items is very cheap thanks to improving technology, every country can’t take advantage of solar energy equally because of geographical reasons. For example, countries in the equatorial region can produce more energy while countries close to pole regions produce less energy. However, although this, every country can exploit solar energy to an important degree (United Nations, 2023).
When we look at the deeply how solar energy produces, we can see that there are two main methods. The first one is solar photovoltaic (PV) which uses solar cells, to transform sunlight into electricity. Solar PV, whose total installed capacity reached 710 GW globally, uses generally for small-size production such as providing a home’s need of electricity. The other one is called concentrated solar power (CSP) and it uses huge mirrors to convert sunlight into electricity. In contrast PV, it uses for large-scale production of electricity (IRENA, 2023).
Wind energy uses the kinetic energy of moving air by exploiting huge wind tribunes which are located on land (onshore) or in the sea (offshore) (United Nations, 2023). Wind energy which was started to use in the 1830s (IRENA, 2023), unfortunately, isn’t accessible for every country equally like solar energy. One of the reasons for this is climate while the other reason is technology. Countries that couldn’t improve the technology of both offshore and onshore cannot take advantage of this source. Because of technological reasons, wind energy could improve only in some countries which had enough technological capacity to build wind energy facilities. For example, The USA, UK, China, and Denmark are the top countries that produce and use wind energy. (Ryan Wiser, Zhenbin Yang, 2011)
Hydropower is produced by using the energy of moving water from higher to lower altitudes. Transforming moving water into energy is possible in two ways. The first one is storing water in reservoirs and the second one is using the power of water when it flows in a river. Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy to produce electricity. However, it is not the only usage of hydropower. For instance, it is used for sustaining drinking water, water irrigation, controlling floods and drought, and sometimes navigation services (United Nations, 2023).
Even though its huge capacity of producing electricity, it is not a regular and sustainable source since it depends on climate conditions. For example, it generally depends on the rainfall patterns of the region. Because of that, when a region has fewer rainy days, the reservoir or river which is standing in this region has less capacity to produce electricity (United Nations, 2023). Furthermore, with affecting by climate changes, hydropower has the power of affecting the ecosystem of its region. For instance, when a huge reservoir is built on a region, it can affect the micro-climate situations of this region, as it affects the amount of vaporization and therefore, the amount of dampness. For this reason, small-scale reservoirs are a more environmental option in the process of producing hydropower (IRENA, 2023).
Bioenergy is a type of energy that is derived from some organic materials whose names are biomass, such as charcoal, wood, dung, crops, and some manures. Generally, this type of biomasses uses in rural areas of developing countries for heating, cooking, and lighting by poorer citizens (United Nations, 2023).
Bioenergy can be analyzed under two topics, which are traditional biomass and modern biomass. According to this perspective, traditional biomass which has lower efficiency is comprised of wood, straws, etc and these can be harmful to health and living conditions when they burn. On the other hand, modern biomass uses harmless gases and liquids. Because of that using them is healthful for humanity. Modern biomass which has higher efficiency can use for the production of electricity and heat in several sectors (Helena Chum, Andre Faaij, José Moreira, 2011).
Geothermal and Ocean Energy:
Geothermal energy is a type of energy that is derived from underwater resources. It uses for producing heat with stocking in geothermal reservoirs (United Nations, 2023).
On the other hand, ocean energy is produced by technologies that can derive the thermal and kinetic energy of seawater and waves to electricity and heat. As these types of technologies are started to use recently, we cannot use all potential of the ocean energy of the world. However, we can say that the theoretical potential of ocean energy might supply the energy requirement of all humanity (United Nations, 2023).
SWOT Analysis of Renewable Energy:
When we look at the current market trends of renewable energy, we can say that this sector has many parts and each of these parts has several special strengths and weaknesses. However, when we look from a general perspective at these sectors, we can see that, with improving technology, all of them will have an enormous place in terms of producing energy. Furthermore, because of global warming, most countries have already started to improve their capacity and technology for using natural resources. Thus, renewable energy will be the dominant actor in the energy sector. Also, one of the reasons for this is that fossil fuels are harmful to the ecosystem and also, have a probability of ending since they have limited capacity on Earth. It means that renewable energy has infinite and harmless sources for producing energy and this makes it indispensable for the future of humanity. Otherwise, since natural resources haven’t been spread equally, every country cannot produce renewable energy in the same amount. Because of that it is impossible that, use renewable energy all over the world. Moreover, the technological capacity of producing renewable energy is not the same in every country. It means that some countries use these sources very efficiently, while others cannot.
When we look at the opportunities and threats for renewable energy by using these facts, we can say that technology is the most enormous opportunity for this sector. When technology will be improved, capacity of the renewable energy will be increased automatically. Also, since the required sources are natural, the price of raw materials will be cheap. Therefore, the market price of renewable energy will be cheap too and this situation will increase the demand for it. Furthermore, the dangers of global warming will increase the demand too. On the other hand, one of the threats is that since hydropower and solar energy have the potential to change the eco-system when they are used big scale, the full capacity of renewable energy might not build at any time even though, enough technological capacity has arisen. Furthermore, underdeveloped and developing countries might not have enough technology to produce renewable energy. Because of that, this sector might be transforming into a monopoly in the hands of a few countries. This will lead to an unwillingness to skip renewable energy in the short term.
When we look at the ethical questions which sector of renewable energy must face, firstly we see the question that what ethical considerations should renewable energy companies consider. When we look at the weaknesses of renewable energy, we see that renewable energy doesn’t spread equally. These sources can lead to huge climate issues such as hydropower, as mentioned above. Because of that, companies who want to work on renewable energy should be careful about not harming to the ecosystem. For instance, they should build their reservoirs at perfect size which is not harmful to the ecosystem and sustains enough energy for the region. Therefore, these companies shouldn’t desire to make a lot of money because when they do such things, they can injure the whole world’s climate and also, they can lose their sources since renewable energy sources are natural. So, in an unethical situation, they can both injure the ecosystem and themselves.
The other question is what steps can renewable energy companies take to ensure ethical sourcing of materials and responsible disposal of end-of-life products? In this topic, companies should act carefully because of the reason which was mentioned above. Firstly, they can cooperate with other companies or governments which are professional in recycling. Therefore, responsible disposal of end-of-life materials can be sustained. Also, by using these recycled sources, they can provide regular sources to their facilities ethically.
When we look at the market conditions and situation, companies should follow the technological improvements since technology opens new doors in this sector regularly. Moreover, if it is possible, they can create new technology which can change all market conditions in the sector. Because of that, they can build r&d centers in which they educate their scientists, and they make scientific experiments on renewable energy. In this way, they can determine the market conditions and contribute a huge impact on the renewable energy sector.
Furthermore, they should know the renewable energy conditions of their regions. For instance, if a company works on hydropower, it should have all knowledge about the region’s water sources and potential. Also, they should search for new sources to improve their capacity. When they find a new natural resource, they can be the only owner of this source and therefore, they can increase their capacity more cheaply and without sharing with others.
However, these types of activities can be more expensive for companies. Because of that, they should adopt their budgets very carefully. At this point, to not decrease their profits, they can make cooperations with others or governments and also, if it is possible, they should find sponsors for both studies of research-development and research of new sources.
There are several branches of renewable energy, so it tenders to many areas of work to companies. However, all branches of renewable energy have different features. Because of that, companies first started to be the profession of one sector. It means that a company should start with only one of the sources such as solar energy and keep going on this specific area deeply. Furthermore, since sources of renewable energy hadn’t spread equally it is impossible that a company works on different types of energy in the same region. Therefore, the company that wants to work on different types of energy should try this only when it has the power to open the global market of energy.
To sum up, renewable energy which has six branches which are solar energy, hydropower, wind energy, bioenergy, ocean energy, and geothermal energy; has the potential of being a dominant factor in energy marketing since it is based on natural sources and reduces the global warming risk. Because of that, with improving technology, companies that work on renewable energy might be the most famous in the world. However, like all businesses, it has several dangers and companies should be careful about these threats. For example, they should decide correctly about which type of energy they will make investments in and use potential at the “golden mean”. Furthermore, it is important to note that, since technology has an enormous role in renewable energy, companies should follow technological improvements and also, they should create the technology which might direct all markets.
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IRENA. (2023). Retrieved from irena.org: https://www.irena.org/Energy-Transition/Technology/Solar-energy
IRENA. (2023). Retrieved from irena.org: https://www.irena.org/Energy-Transition/Technology/Wind-energy
IRENA. (2023). Retrieved from irena.org: https://www.irena.org/Energy-Transition/Technology/Hydropower
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (2023, 05 17). Retrieved from energy.gov: https://www.energy.gov/eere/renewable-energy
Ryan Wiser, Zhenbin Yang. (2011). Chapter 7: Wind Energy. In R. P.-M. Ottmar Edenhofer, Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (pp. 535-607). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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United Nations. (2023). Retrieved from un.org: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/what-is-renewable-energy#:~:text=Renewable%20energy%20is%20energy%20derived,plentiful%20and%20all%20around%20us