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Running Head: Renewable Energy and Our Lifestyle 1

Renewable Energy and Our Lifestyle

Michael Russell Grant

Monday 12:00- 1:20

Professor Lou Herman


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Abstract

Renewable Energy and Our Lifestyle is designed to explain the what Renewable energy

is, how it can be used to curb out growing energy needs, and what positive impacts it has on our

society and environment. It was concluded that the push for renewables was propelled by the

current energy crisis and the theory of “Peak Oil, among other factors. Renewables have grown

exponentially, in terms of production, and investment. Also, it was concluded, through primary

research, that the common El Pasoan did not have sufficient knowledge of renewable energy

concepts or their impact on their daily lives.


Renewable Energy and Our Lifestyle

Renewable energy can be defined in one simple term: Energy that comes straight from

our naturally reoccurring resources. With advancements in modern technology, it is possible to

harvest energy from unimaginable places, such as the energy in a wave or the heat underneath

the Earth’s crust. It is important to educate the general population on several key aspects that
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pertain to the booming market that is the renewable energy sector, not only in terms of what it is,

but also including what are the effects of renewable energy on our way of life, an example of a

new and relatively unorthodox method of renewable energy, and what can we, as a population

do, and our government do to promote this new form of power.

What is Renewable Energy?

As stated above, renewable energy is power used to drive our daily lives (watching TV,

driving to school/ work, and heating our homes in the winter, among other things) with energy

that comes from naturally replenished resources. This excludes the orthodox forms of power that

include Crude Oil, Coal, Natural Gas etc. which includes all of the Fossil Fuels that are not

renewable, meaning that once we have depleted the supply, they cannot be restored.

Speaking of Oil, interestingly enough is one of the driving factors that encourages

renewable energy, even though it is the primary means of power. You may be asking why is that?

Well, recent high oil prices, such as when the barrel of oil reached its highest point in July of

2008, leading to a barrel costing $147.30. Also, the concerns with the theory of “Peak Oil, ”

which states that oil processing has recently come to a peak of production and will now only see

a decline in refinement and global supply, coupled to a rising global demand and if the theory is

true, lower supply which leads to higher prices and less energy, has propelled the want and need

of new sources of energy and renewable is just what we are looking for. It also helps that the

general public has become rather obsessed with “going green,” also boosting the popularity of

renewable energy. ( S a w i n , 2 0 1 0 )

In terms of oil production and estimated reserves, it is

estimated that global decline in production will begin in 2020. This

is a optimistic estimation, assuming renewables will curtail some


demand BEFORE this world wide decline begins. More negative

predictions assert that peak oil has already occurred, or is on the

threshold of occurring, adding to this speculation was the record oil

prices and world wide recession of 2008. (Bruno, 2008), (Cohen,

2007)

What are the Effects of Renewable Energy?

Aside the obvious facts that renewable energy is not as harmful to the climate and is in

fact, renewable, there are several other effects of renewable energy. As of 2008, 19% of the total

energy used by all countries came from some form of renewable energy. ( S a w i n , 2 0 1 0 ) ,

( S a w i n , 2 0 0 8 ) Of This 19%, 13% came from Biomass (wood, hydrogen gas, etc.), about 3%

from hydro dams or other water harnessing source, and 2.7% from wind, solar and geothermal

areas. 19% may not seem like a big share of the market, but it is projected that wind power alone

will grow over 30% per year (See graph above; Source: Global Wind Energy Council).

What is the Bloom Box?

An example of new, experimental

types of renewable energy sources is

the Bloom Box. The Bloom Box,

developed by Bloom Energy, based in

the United States,is a solid oxide fuel

cell, which means that it uses liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, mixed with a constant energy

supply to create a constant supply of energy right at the spot at which it is placed. Within the box,
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there are many stacks of ceramic plates synthesized from beach sand, one side containing a side

specifically designed to contact the desired fuel and the other to contact the air. In the middle of

the stacks, the two will meet, and the chemical process will go to completion resulting in energy

and water (Equation above for methane within the Bloom Box). The Box uses fuel and oxygen to

create a combust-less reaction that produces a remarkable amount of energy, with little to no

carbon emission, depending on the fuel used. For example, if methane is used as the desired

fuel, the reaction is

Each Box is capable of producing 100 kW of power and costs between $700,000 and

$800,000. But as stated later, the Box “can pay for itself in 3 to 5 years based on an energy cost

of 8 to 9 cents per kW/ hour.” As for waste, “ "CO2 emissions when running on natural gas

would be just under .8 pounds/kWh which

compares favorably to electricity from central station coal-fired plants (2 lbs/kWh) or natural gas

plants (roughly 1.3 lbs/kWh) and the national average for on-grid electricity (around 1.3-1.5

lbs/kWh)." (Ricker, 2010)

If the box runs on landfill gas or biogas, it produces net zero carbon emissions.” It is

expected that the Box “ generates electricity at 50% to 55% conversion efficiency. In

comparison, solar generally produces power at between 10% to 15% efficiency. But unlike solar

panels, the Bloom Energy Server produces CO2 as a byproduct.... If the box runs on landfill gas

or biogas, it produces net zero carbon emissions.” (Schwartz, 2010)


Source: Bloom Energy

What Should We Do?

It is not just the government’s job to provide all the investment in this sector of the

economy, even though it is providing big incentives and other monetary stimulants to developers

of renewable energy sources. It is important for the general public to understand what it is and to

help stimulate the industry. For example, one could install solar panels on their roofs, or even

buy a wind turbine for their property. Any kind of investment will not only spur interest, but also

help the environment! One of the problems within our community is the generally low level of

knowledge of renewable energy, even if it is a generally popular subject. In a recent study

conducted by myself, an overwhelming majority of the individuals were not familiar with the
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term “fossil fuel,” could not name much other than the classic solar panel as a form of

renewable energy, and was not familiar with the “Bloom Box.” If we become more into the

subject, not only will it be more widely available but more jobs will be created along with the

higher demand.

This is a huge potential for innovation, growth, the advancement of our knowledge and

even the next step in Human progression. It is up to everyone to promote a green energy policy

and also used power derived from green energy, whether it is from the Bloom Box or from a

solar panel. The time of fossil fuels is coming to a close, and consistent, clean energy is on the

rise.
Works Cited
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1. Bruno, J L. (2008, March 08). Oil rally may be economy's

u n d o i n g . U S A To d a y,

2. Cohen, D. (2007). The perfect storm. Association for the Study of

Peak Oil and Gas,

3. Grant, M (2010). Percentage of Participants That Were Familiar With Renewable Energy

Topics

4. R i c k e r , T. ( P r o d u c e r ) . ( 2 0 1 0 ) . T h e B l o o m b o x . [ We b ] . R e t r i e v e d

f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. e n g a d g e t . c o m / 2 0 1 0 / 0 2 / 2 2 / t h e - b l o o m - b o x - a - p o w e r -

plant-for-the-home-video/

5. Sawin, J L. (2010). Renewables 2010. REN21,

6. Sawin, J L. (2008). Renewables 2007. REN21,

7. Scharwtz, A. (2010). How does the Bloom box energy server

w o r k ? . F a s t C o m p a n y, R e t r i e v e d f r o m

h t t p : / / w w w . f a s t c o m p a n y. c o m / 1 5 6 1 8 4 4 / h o w - d o e s - t h e - b l o o m - b o x -

energy-server-work