Alternative Energy: Challenges and Possibilities
Presenter: Ratish Raghavan
University of Waterloo
Theme: The Future of Energy on Earth
The primary energy demand by 2050 is predicted to be 155 % higher than in 2002. The expected energy consumption will have to be managed within the context of price, political security and environmental concerns. The elements associated with the global energy conundrum are critically analysed in this paper. Carbon emissions from the non-renewable energy sources like coal and oil have severe environmental and economic consequences. This has opened up an energy capacity-gap worldwide. The factors forcing a global paradigm shift to look beyond fossil fuels and collectively evaluate competing renewable energy sources are also discussed. Key technologies used to harness energy from renewable natural sources like wind, sunlight and biomass are examined in this paper. The potential of such technologies to provide cheaper, feasible and sustainable energy alternatives are analysed. The energy market is projected to significantly increase beyond the existing business worth $6 trillion a year. The estimated scale coupled with the non-disruptive nature of integrating alternate-energy infrastructure has accelerated several innovations in this field. The challenges and solutions related to their development and adoption are also explained. Furthermore, a proposal to augment energy reserves by converting the abundant biomass to fuels is presented.