Senior IEA Editor Delivers Speech at China Environment Forum

June 20, 2012 | By | Reply More

Jessica Murphy, senior editor for the International Energy Alliance, traveled to Guiyang, China to be a part of the 2012 Sino-American Juvenile International Energy Alliance Environment Conference which took place on June 15. Jessica’s insight into renewable energy cautions that not all renewable energy ideas are worthy of being put into place since there can be negative secondary effects or other inefficiencies. Her complete speech as was given at this conference is given below.

            As Andrew Hunter mentioned before, at the International Energy Alliance, we pride ourselves in educating ourselves, as well as others, in the different types of renewable and nonrenewable energy.

            First off, solar energy. It is harnessed by using solar panels to trap the sun’s rays into solar cells, which convert light directly into electricity. This can save up to 2500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is ¾ of the energy needs for an average household. Using solar panels will release less than one ton of carbon dioxide per year, which is a lot less than is released by today’s options. Solar panels are the most home-friendly because it can be put on rooftops and don’t take much space. It is more accessible to the individual and easier for the individual to conserve energy. Also, cash back in the form of rebates would be a good incentive to switch to renewable energy sources. Overall, solar energy would be the easiest way for people to switch to renewable energy sources.

            Second, wind power harnesses wind to propel blades on turbines, converting wind and turbine movement into electrical current with an electrical generator. This would be a 99% reduction in carbon and air pollution emissions. Less than 3 km2 of land is used for turbine footprints to run a whole U.S. Vehicle fleet, assuming the fleet is only made of electrical vehicles, to put it into perspective. This could save up to 15,000 lives per year from air-pollution-related deaths from vehicle exhaust and would require almost no water consumption. It would only occupy about 0.5% of U.S. land, which is 30 times less than the amount of land used to grow corn or grasses for ethanol. Also, land can be used at the same time for grazing and farming, so the land can have a double usage. However, there is a variability in supply of energy because constant wind is needed, but this can be overcome if more time and research was put into developing these renewable energy sources. Wind power may harm or disrupt avian life, so location would need to be a consideration.

            Geothermal energy is a type of nonrenewable energy, but one that does much less harm than natural gases or biofuels. It is the use of heat energy present underneath the Earth. It produces no harmful by-products if harnessed correctly, and is generally self-sufficient, energy-wise, when a geothermal plant is built. It has little effect on natural landscape. But it can produce harmful by-products, pollutants, minerals, or gases if harnessed incorrectly. Also, it is not a renewable energy source because the plants are prone to running out of steam.

            Now, let’s move on to one of the worst types of energy sources. The options used today can be up to 1,000 times worse or more polluting than the best options. Ethanol-based biofuels are more harmful to human health, wildlife, water supply, and land use than current fossil fuels. It may emit more global-warming gases than fossil fuels. Also, it diverts an agricultural food source, which increases food prices. It takes more energy to make than it provides, yet people are pushing to develop biofuels, which is the worst available option.

            We have so many good renewable energy sources to choose from, and while some may need a little more development in order to be usable by a majority of the people, we shouldn’t need to rely so heavily on the worst available options, such as biofuels.


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Category: China, China Environment Forum 2012, IEA activity

About the Author ()

I am in my second year of a five year combination BS physics/math and MS systems engineering program offered jointly through Haverford College and UPenn. Helping my community is a lot of fun and means a great deal to me. Through the IEA and other efforts, I've come to learn how much power many can have when there is a clear positive vision, motivation and momentum. "There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." — Mark Twain

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