Can we live off renewable energy?

Mexico and renewable energies: impact on local communities

Its economy has always been based on agriculture and fishing. And, as for the sources of energy generation, they have always been fossil fuels, mainly imported. Therefore, it did not seem to be an example of sustainability. And yet the Icelandic political authorities decided to change course around 1980.

Iceland, with a population of 360,000, radically transformed its conventional energy mix to one based on domestic renewables. Renewables exceeded 99% of energy production in the 1980s and have continued to do so ever since. Today, all of Iceland’s electrical power is generated by hydropower and geothermal energy.

Without realizing it, the energy was on the island itself and, what’s more, free and clean. Volcanoes provide geothermal energy in abundant quantities. And, on the other hand, hydropower is the other most important source of supply.

In Iceland, geothermal energy is used not only to generate electricity through large steam turbines, but also to heat entire cities through centralized district heating systems, to melt snow from sidewalks, to heat swimming pools, to provide energy for fish farming, greenhouse cultivation and food or cosmetics production. Ninety-five percent of the country’s houses are heated with this energy, recalls Ignacio Mártil, PhD in Physics from the Complutense University of Madrid.

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Can we live on renewable energy alone?

But it’s not as simple as it seems, and the energy transition to renewables is taking place, but slowly and surely, at just the right pace to make it safe. We talked to three experts in the field who explain how this process is going and why there are still decades to go before we can leave fossil fuels and nuclear power plants behind.

The main problem with renewable energies is instability, explains Antonio Turiel, a researcher at the CSIC’s Institute of Marine Sciences. “The fact that it is an energy that is not concentrated, that is not focused on certain production centers and that also enters and leaves with a certain intermittency generates a problem of instability, which is the biggest problem there is,” he explains.

“Renewable energies need a stable grid to function, and the stability of the grid is produced by conventional power plants, which maintain the stability of the electrical system, voltage and frequency,” says José Luis Rodríguez, director of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

Is it possible to LIVE with Renewable Energies?

Renewable energies are clean, inexhaustible and increasingly competitive sources of energy. They differ from fossil fuels mainly in their diversity, abundance and potential for use anywhere on the planet, but above all in that they do not produce greenhouse gases – the cause of climate change – or polluting emissions. Moreover, their costs are falling steadily, whereas the general trend in the cost of fossil fuels is the opposite, regardless of their cyclical volatility.

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According to the IEA, global electricity demand will increase by 70% by 2040 – raising its share of final energy use from 18% to 24% over the same period – driven mainly by emerging regions (India, China, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia).  DISCOVER WHAT RENEWABLE ENERGIES ARE IN 2 MINUTESRenewable energies are those that are obtained from inexhaustible natural sources and generate electricity without contributing to global warming.

Is it possible to live only with renewable energy?

Better for the environment and also cheaper for our pockets, as Jorge Morales de Labra explained on Telemadrid’s Madrid Directo. To give you an idea, up to 70% of the world’s energy needs can be covered by solar energy alone. To this we must add that another 20% could be brought directly by the wind and the remaining 10% could be covered with the power of water and other renewable sources. Simple and natural, isn’t it? Three simple elements to produce all the world’s electricity. Green, sustainable, respectful, and on top of that, much cheaper. The energy of nature.

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Anything is possible, and the figures confirm it. But to achieve this, you have to think carefully about all the details. Especially for times when there is no sun, wind or rain. There are solutions. Some of them appear in the reports of LUT University and the Energy Watch Group, and others are already in operation. All to avoid leaving the planet in the dark. The most obvious one is batteries. Storing the energy produced during the day to be consumed at night. Simple and effective at the domestic and individual level, but which can be given a further twist. Go one step further in its application.