Who is Leading the International Clean Energy Race?
The race for clean energy is already underway, but some countries are in vanguard while others remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, even the winners of the clean energy race fail to realize the full range of benefits that can accrue to renewable energy sources as long as other countries continue to rely on fossil fuels for their energy needs. To determine the facts about what is happening today and likely outcomes for the future, this paper reviews the relevant literature to describe how developing countries can reach 100% renewable energy as well as some of the more severe challenges that are involved in providing clean energy in developing regions of the world. In addition, a discussion concerning whether the goal of achieving clean energy access for all humanity by 2030 is achievable or not is followed by an analysis of why China is currently winning the clean energy race. An examination concerning what renewable energy source has the most promise and the social impact of future changes in the energy sector is followed by a discussion concerning how New York is building the renewable energy grid of the future today, how and what are corporate companies doing towards their race to become 100% renewable, the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies and an assessment concerning whether 100% renewable energy is possible for every nation in the future. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues are provided in the conclusion.
Review, Discussion and Analysis
1. How can developing countries reach 100% renewables?
Certainly, enormous investments from both the public and private sectors will be needed, but the overarching need requirement for achieving 100% renewable energy in any country is the political will to achieve this goal. It is noteworthy that in 2015, investments in renewable energy sources were higher among the world’s less affluent nations than they were for the most affluent for the first time in history (The debate over renewable, 2016).
Notwithstanding these increased investments, fully 20% of people in developing nations do not have access to electricity (The debate over renewable, 2016). This basic lack of access to electricity, though, also means that developing nations now have the opportunity to invest in renewable energy resources rather than conventional fossil fuel energy plants thereby facilitating the process.
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In reality, though, achieving 100% renewable in developing countries will require incremental changes that may require a century or more to fully realize for the reasons discussed below.
2. What are some of the challenges those providing clean energy in developing regions face?
One of the most serious challenges involved in the provision of clean energy in developing regions of the world is a profound lack of infrastructure and electric grid (Poczter, 2017). This lack translates into reduced national productivity which adversely affects their ability to invest in cleaner energy resources. In this regard, Poczter (2017) emphasizes that, “Firms may have difficulty connecting to the power grid, or when they do, face shortages or fluctuations in voltage and frequency that make accessing electricity unreliable” (p. 579).
3. Is the goal of clean energy access for all by 2030 is achievable?
A study by the International Energy Agency of 140 developing nations determined that universal energy access is achievable by 2030 (Profeta, 2017). While the goal may be achievable, however, does not mean it will be achieved unless additional annual investments of $52 billion are made, a rate that is more than double the current investment levels (Profeta, 2017).
4. Why China is winning the clean energy race.
Notwithstanding its air pollution and continuing reliance on fossil fuels, most especially coal, China’s leadership is winning the clear energy race because they have to. With a population of 1.4 billion people and a land mass that extends across Asia, China has a Herculean task in providing electricity to all of its citizens (Harder, 2018). In response to this challenge, China has taken a number of steps to integrate renewable energy resources into its grid and has deployed the most electric cars in the world as shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1. Share of global deployment of electric vehicles
In addition, China leads the world in solar panel manufacturing, accounting for fully 60% of the world’s production. Likewise, China is planning a series of advanced nuclear reactors that will further reduce its fossil fuel demand (Harder, 2018).
5. What renewable energy source has the most promise?
Solar energy is frequently cited as the renewable with the most promise for the future.....
Harder, A. (2018, October 13). Why China is winning the clean energy race. Axios. Retrieved from https://www.axios.com/why-china-is-winning-the-clean-energy-race-1513306168-1ab33c05-4e50-42e7-94c9-418e5bbe4a28.html.
Katsioloudis, P. J. & Bondi, S. (2009, March). Energy from the skies: Empowering future generations. The Technology Teacher, 68(6), 11-14.
Kaufman, L. (2017, May 25). How New York is building the renewable energy grid of the future. Inside Climate News. Retrieved from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/ 24052017/new-york-renewable-energy-electrical-grid-solar-wind-energy-coal-natural-gas.
Poczter, S. (2017, December). You can’t count on me: The impact of electricity unreliability on productivity. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 46(3), 579.
Profeta, T. (2017, October 26). IEA: Universal energy access achievable by 2030. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2017/10/26/iea-universal-energy-access-achievable-by-2030/.
Streeter, B. (2009, August). Two banks take the LEED: Sense of place can also mean sense of stewardship. ABA Banking Journal, 99(8), 29.
The debate over renewables. (2016, July 20). The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www. theguardian.com/sustainable-business/live/2016/jul/21/renewable-energy-investment-climate-change-developing-countries-sdg.