Global corporations are striving for sustainability and seeking low-impact energy sources. The United Nations’ Paris Agreement is influencing countries’ emissions standards. As a result, companies may be fined if their surface-level or atmospheric pollution exceeds the defined rates.
People can compare different energy sources and determine the most sustainable supply in their regions. They may calculate carbon footprint, impact on human health and biodiversity effects when evaluating its eco-friendliness. However, before exploring different power sources, individuals must determine what sustainable energy is.
What Is Sustainable Energy?
Sustainable energy comes from natural resources and maintains climate conditions for future generations. Green power supplies meet consumers’ demands without impacting society or the environment’s stability. Sustainable energy differs from renewable energy because some of its sources are depletable.
One key sustainable energy source is biofuel, which emits greenhouse gasses and uses abundant resources. Biofuel comes from plants, which absorb and filter significant quantities of emissions.
One tree may filter nearly 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, preventing atmospheric degradation. Producing energy from plant matter can influence natural emission filtration processes. Many sustainable energy sources contribute to similar environmental conservation practices.
Various energy sources are dominating the current power grid. Some are more sustainable than others, creating ecological discrepancies. Evaluating their differences can increase companies’ and individuals’ sustainability efforts.
One of the most common energy sources worldwide is fossil fuels. They generate nearly 80% of the global power supply annually. Fossil fuels are about the least sustainable power source on the planet.
In developed countries like the U.S., fossil fuels contribute to nearly 74% of anthropogenic emissions. This pollution of Earth’s atmosphere minimizes temperature regulation capabilities and harms human health.
Residents in high-emission regions experience breathing problems from prolonged exposure. Their risk of respiratory illnesses like lung cancer, asthma and other conditions increases over time.
The most common source of biomass energy is wood. Since the beginning of humanity, individuals have burned wood to cook their food and heat their homes. The energy source is more sustainable than fossil fuels because it supports natural carbon filtration.
Environmental scientists have converted biomass into fuel for sustainable transportation. Ethanol and biodiesel come from plants, offsetting some emissions through photosynthesis.
People also use biomass energy to heat their houses. Wood pellet heating systems connect to high-efficiency stoves, which burn lumbar byproducts to increase home heating’s sustainability. Moreover, many pellet manufacturers use recycled wood materials to minimize emissions and landfill pollution.
Biomass is also more affordable compared to fossil fuels. The oil and gas industry is subject to price alternations from political changes and natural disasters. However, renewable energy supplies’ costs remain consistent through global changes.
Solar is the face of the renewable energy industry. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels produce zero greenhouse gas emissions when generating electricity. Solar energy’s small carbon footprint increases its sustainability.
PV solar cells produce electricity by absorbing radiation from the sun. The light knocks electrons loose, creating a direct current of power. Transfer wires collect the energy current and convert it into emission-free electricity.
Solar power is more sustainable and cost-effective than other energy sources. Today, it’s up to 50% less expensive than researchers initially predicted.
How to Optimize Sustainable Energy Supplies
A significant amount of energy waste comes from buildings, expanding the global carbon footprint. Lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems consume the most power in residential and commercial buildings. Therefore, people can install smart thermostats and lights to minimize energy exploitation.
Smart systems rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize sustainable power conservation. People can power their entire homes with solar arrays through high-efficiency systems and appliances.
Which Energy Source Is the Most Efficient?
Biomass is an efficient energy source because it supports modern technologies. Solar power is even more sustainable because it produces fewer emissions and requires people to adopt electric systems, appliances and vehicles.
On the contrary, fossil fuels are the least efficient-energy sources because they come from depletable resources and have an expiration date. It should be obvious that this source should be avoided if possible if the goal is to improve the planet and human health.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.