What is Green Technology?
It may also mean a type of energy that’s considered less harmful to the environment than conventional ways. Green technology encompasses a range of activities, methods, materials, and techniques, such as energy recycling, safety, renewable energy sources, and energy efficiency.
Some Types of Energy Included in Green Technology
- Solar Power
Solar panels are a great example of the energy transformation brought about by green technology. Photovoltaic solar panels convert the sun’s light energy into electrical energy. They come in various shapes and sizes and can be used to either power a small residential house to a large industrial building. They are less costly, eco-friendly, and can save users a lot of money and energy. By using solar panels, users consume fewer fossil fuels, which can reduce gas emissions (from inefficient gas systems – which themselves can also be updated to be more efficient) and help reduce adverse effects of exhaust, such as smog.
- Wind Turbines
Wind turbines can be a good source of clean renewable energy. They can be used for both commercial and residential power needs. Unfortunately, to harness mass amounts of wind energy, one requires large tracts of land in a very windy area. However, homeowners energy needs can be supplemented by just one wind turbine on their property, such as a vertical wind turbine. Also, since a lot of commercial wind farms exist today, those with no wind turbines can just purchase energy from them directly (if you’re nearby).
- Geothermal Energy
Unlike wind and solar energy in which energy production can be hindered during specific seasons or times of the day, geothermal energy is mostly constant. This is because it relies on the excessive heat generated from deep in the earth. Many electricity grids are powered by electricity generated from geothermal stations. It’s one of the most popular and passive ways of energy generation in the world today.
Hydroelectricity is also another form of renewable energy generation. Hydroelectric power stations generate this type of energy by utilizing water flowing through turbines. These turbines are connected to large generators within the stations that in turn convert the kinetic energy from the water to electric energy and store it and supply it to electricity consumers.
Most Promising Sectors
- Tidal Energy
One of the most promising of renewable energy resources is tidal energy. Tidal energy, especially in tidal lagoons, are innovations that show great promise in the sector. Tidal lagoons involve the creation of a wall between the lagoon and the sea/ocean. As the ocean water rises outside the wall, gates are opened that allow water to pass through pre-installed hydro-turbines that generate electricity. Once the ocean water resides, the water behind the wall is again released into the ocean while passing through the same hydro-turbines, enabling the generation of electricity once again. There are other types of tidal energy generators as well, such as ones that take advantage of the rising and falling waves or the natural back and forth of the ocean water against the coast.
- Carbon Capture and Storage
Still in its development stages, Carbon dioxide capture and storage is emerging as a new innovation that is set to revolutionize the green technology sector. It’s estimated that about 40 billion tonnes of carbon are produced in the world annually. A company in Iceland is already engaging in carbon capture by burying it and turning it into rocks. They do this by capturing carbon and injecting it deep underground along with water where it reacts with volcanic basalt rocks that are abundant in Iceland. Within a span of two years, 95% of the carbon injected into the ground mineralizes.
- Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol
Another option is to convert Carbon back to a reusable fuel. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory came across a method of converting CO2 into Ethanol. They did this by creating a catalyst from a mixture of carbon, copper, and nitrogen with a textured surface. When passed through high voltage, the reaction converts CO2 into ethanol. All the ingredients used in the process are cheap and easy to get and the reaction takes place at room temperature. The researchers cite this as useful and advantageous in case of commercialization.
Of course, CO2 is plant food, let’s all keep that in mind.
Companies Using Green Technology
Google is known to be a huge driver of renewable energy innovation by committing an immense amount of time and money to discover better sources of energy. The company has remained carbon neutral since 2007. It utilizes about 737,364,727 kWh of green energy every year. This green energy is mostly used to power its data centers as it’s more reliable than conventional power grids.
Apple isn’t necessarily a large green energy consumer. However, it’s taken steps towards being a carbon neutral company. It’s done this by purchasing several solar farms that it intends to power its data centers. Apple consumes about 626,315,500 kWh of green energy annually and intends to increase this by making it stores more energy efficient by utilizing green energy. Apple uses most of its green energy in powering electrical operations in the manufacture and production processes of their products.
Microsoft is considered one of the greenest companies globally. This major attribute comes from the fact that Microsoft consumes about 1.3 billion kWh of green energy every year. The company is also carbon neutral and utilizes renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind. The green energy is used to power its data centers, software production facilities, and manufacturing processes.
Dell makes it to this list as it’s a strong believer in developing products that adhere to more environmentally friendly standards. Besides that, the company has heavily invested in wind and solar energy to power up its operations. Nearly half of Dell’s energy consumption is green energy. Their green energy consumption is about 228,262,000 kWh annually.
Intel is a massive consumer of green energy. It’s estimated that it consumes about 3,102,050,000 kWh of green energy to power up its operations. Its sources of green energy include solar, wind, hydro, and biomass. It also has 18 on-site solar panels that have a capacity of 7,000 kWh total. The company also intends to become 100% green energy dependent in the future.
Green energy sources are a fun and exciting sector, with much that can still be improved upon and innovated. It should also be noted that green energy isn’t always so green. And also, all the hype around renewable energy combined with overzealous environmentalists with sometimes misinformed ideas and political power, can cause a sort of demonization of non-renewable energy sources, which can be damaging to people who depend on them, and hinder progress in making these energy sources more efficient as well.
Green energy is certainly looking better now than ever before, and we expect it will continue to grow and be implemented more into society – which is pretty cool. As we move into the future, let us improve upon all areas of energy, making them safer, more efficient, cheaper, innovating new ways to use them, and even searching for new sources altogether.
The article was created together with Gaia Solar which is a company specializes in photovoltaics installation.
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