is the power derived from the utilisation of physical or chemical resources, to
provide light, heat and power 1. Energy is required for most parts of
everyday life which means it is important, yet our main sources of energy are
running out and we haven’t yet found a solution to replace them. Natural gas, crude oil and coal are 3 types of
fossil fuels which cause damage to the earths atmosphere every time they are
burnt, as they enter the O-zone and are unable to enter space causing them to
heat up the O-zone, which then heats up our planet and subsequently damages the
environment. Yet they are still our main sources of energy production. It has
been known for many years that oil and gas are due to run out within the next
70 years but we still haven’t made the required effort to reduce our use of
them, which means this issue will be passed on to the next generation- us.
Renewable energy (a replacement for fossil
fuels) such as solar power and wind power are readily available around the
world but they only provide for 14% of our worldwide energy usage. These sources of renewable energy would be
effective for Britain as we have the weather conditions to power these devices.
The current issue is that some people believe that renewable energy isn’t cost
effective, that it isn’t used widely and furthermore, that it uses up land that
could be used for food production. This is why biofuels were designed; they are
often created by products which involve carbon fixation which comes from plants
that photosynthesise. Biofuels create power from hundreds of resources such as
corn and sugarcane that don’t have many other uses, they can be used as fuel
for commercial or household vehicles. Yet many of the resources for biofuel
need land to be grown which causes the ‘Food Vs Fuel Debate’.
The main source of renewable energy comes from
first generation feed stocks; these are natural sources of energy which can be
transformed into small amounts of biofuel using basic production methods.
Examples of these sources are sugarcane and wheat; plants often used for food.
This is ideal because it means they will be readily available and they are easy
to grow, however, is also a problem because it creates the fuel vs food debate.
A debate which questions whether the land used to grow these crops should be
dedicated to providing food or fuel, this is why 2nd generation feed
stocks were discovered.
2nd generation feed stocks are a
more reliable source of renewable energy because the sources of this energy
such as wood crops and residential waste have a higher calorific value, this
means that there is more energy within these sources. The 2nd
generation feed stocks require more advanced production methods but they attribute
less issues in comparison to 1st generation feed stocks. For example,
these sources are not used for food, which means the food vs fuel debate has
been removed. These sources of energy don’t have many other uses which makes
them more useful for energy production. In addition, some of the energy sources
don’t need to grow at all, ensuring that space is not taken by these products.
3rd generation feedstocks is the
power derived from algea, this is fairly new to mainstream power production.
Algea has a higher calorific value than any other resource that is used for
power production, however it requires larger and more complex methods of
production than any other resource. Algea grows in damp and hot conditions,
meaning that it is not suitable for all countries. Although algea is often
grown in labs, it can also grow in the specific conditions, however, this could
use land space and could damage land which could destroy other crops.
Feedstocks create bioenergy which is often
overlooked when finding solutions for powering businesses, this is why
businesses now have to create LCA’S (Life Cycle Analysis’s) to decide if these
bioenergy sources are viable for their companies.
Bioenergy (as shown by the LCA above) is
created and implemented with only a few steps, ensuring that clean renewable
power can be produced easily with the right equipment. Some people believe that
bioenergy is useless because it uses non-renewable energy to create it, which
could be deemed as true but once bioenergy is widely produced it will be possible
to create it using renewable energy sources.
LCA’s are used as decision supporting tools for
companies who are invested in the environment and its products. The idea of an
LCA is to come up with decisions quickly and effectively. Although LCA’s manage
to do their job they are unreliable and often forget about the location and
stage of these ecological processes. This means that the people receiving the
information from the LCA will only have the basic information, not covering
issues like the weather conditions or the current state of the economy creating
these biofuels. This has potential to create further issues for the companies
that have invested into biofuels.
Countries like the UK create small amount of
bioenergy that is used for low scale needs, this is useless especially for the
UK this is because they have the land and the resources needed to create a
large scale bioenergy scheme. This would create jobs, energy and decrease taxes
for the citizens of the uk. The UK could use an LCA to decide whether bioenergy
production is deemed useful for the country, although as this only gives basic
information, it would allow for the government to decide whether or not it is
worth the underlying costs. The UK could
look at how Brazil used an LCA to help them decide if producing energy was
right for them.
Bioethanol and biodiesel (2 examples of
biofuel) have very similar properties because they are both used in vehicles of
a similar calibre. For example, bioethanol is a high performance fuel used in
high-powered engines. Due to this, bioethanol will have a high pour point to
ensure its state is liquid when entering the vehicle. It will also have a low
flash point so that the engine can produce vapour to reduce power usage, and it
will have a high calorific value to ensure it has the energy capacity to start
the car. This is similar to biodiesel which is used in diesel cars. Biodiesel
will have a higher calorific value than bioethanol, this is because diesel cars
require more power for the engine to heat up and produce vapour and this often
means that the price is higher. But this hasn’t stopped other countries such as
Brazil from using these renewable fuel replacements.
Brazil is the only economically developed
country in the world that uses renewable energy as a major source of power 2,
and has used these sources of renewable power since 2002, when the president
introduced new policies to decrease the amount of fossil fuels used by the
country. Within the last 15 years, Brazil has managed to have 45% of it’s 180
million people use renewable energy 3. The main way this has been achieved is
by the country’s 400 sugarcane mills 4 and its 33,000 petrol stations (out of
36,000 in the country) which provide petrol and diesel that uses 25% ethanol
Clearly Brazil’s policies to increase renewable
energy have been successful because they have managed to decrease fossil fuel
use to 55% of all energy produced 6, this is key to the success of these
policies. Brazil has not tried to remove fossil fuels completely, which eases
the pressure on people because they understand that they only have to change a
few small elements of their life. This has made the public in Brazil more
enthusiastic about using renewable energy.
The key element of Brazil’s success is their
use of ethanol in petrol. This is a very simple idea that could easily be
implemented into other countries, this is because since 2007 more than 50% of
cars are Flex fuel 7, this means that the car can run on fuels that have been
modified to make them cheaper or more economically friendly, encouraging Brazil
to change the fuel which has decreased fossil fuel usage. This has helped the people
in Brazil as the ethanol produced for fuel is the cheapest biofuel in the
world, which means the public of Brazil pay less for their fuel 8.
The other key part of Brazil’s success in
increasing renewable energy usage is their use of sugarcane. Sugarcane is a
plant that grows efficiently in the climate of Brazil. Once it was discovered
that sugarcane has energy properties, Brazil began to increase their farms
until they had over 200, which produced enough sugarcane to create ethanol for almost
15% of the country’s energy needs 9.
People ask “if Brazil has managed to increase
renewable energy usage why can’t everyone else?”. The real reason the rest of
the world is struggling to keep up with Brazil is because they are being
unrealistic about how little fossil fuels they can use. After seeing Brazil’s
success, other countries are trying to use only renewable energy which isn’t
working, when they should actually be modelling their plan on the basis of
The final goal is to completely remove the use
of fossil fuels and Brazil are well on their way to completing that, but
unfortunately the rest of the world are not as successful with renewable energy
as Brazil is. This is because other countries are trying to completely remove
fossil fuels within a short amount of time, which will be unsuccessful. This is
a result of the population in these countries and the lack of people willing to
spend their money and time on changing the (currently) reliable energy that is
available to them.
Although everyone makes an effort to recycle
and use less hot water, we are still unable to produce enough bioenergy, with
the resources we have, to provide for these households. The best solution to start
to reduce fossil fuel usage for countries such as the UK or the US is to make
changes that most people won’t notice, for example using ethanol in fuel or
turning street lights off between 1am and 4am. This will reduce the burning of
fossil fuels without causing turmoil within these countries.
Another solution is to set each household a
budget of non-renewable energy they can use in a month; this is more
restrictive than implementing ethanol into fuels but it will be more effective.
Each household can be given a fine for exceeding their monthly budget and if
they need more energy they can implement bioenergy solutions into their house.
This could increase bioenergy but it may also cause debates between the
government and the general public.
Bioenergy is likely to become the majority
source of power for the world within the next 100 years, mainly because fossil
fuels will have nearly become deplete, however, each country is going to have
to take a stand and start producing large amounts of bioenergy to ensure they
have the energy necessary to power their country in the future.
Renewable energy will not completely be used
throughout the world, because of the price of implementing bioenergy
production, but the amount of renewable energy used will ideally be increased.
If this doesn’t happen our atmosphere could become too unstable for us to
survive, which could cause mass death. This is why we need to change our energy
usage and we need to think about where our energy has come from.