chapter  17
17 Pages

Renewable energy

Our society depends heavily on energy for survival and leisure, and the primary source is non-renewable fossil fuels. Since people started farming approximately 12 000 years ago, energy use has been rising and the environmental load we have been placing on the biosphere has increased by more than 10 000 fold (Dovers, 1994). Authorities claim that our energy usage is going to increase four-fold over the next century, and that by 2100 electricity needs will be up to 30-40 × 1012 watts worldwide (Integrity Research Institute, 2000). The quality of our future will be largely influenced by our energy use patterns and technological innovations in the power industry. Alternative fuels for electric power generation are receiving attention as a means of reducing harmful emissions (SO2, NOx, ash) and greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4), decreasing our dependence on limited reserves of fossil fuels and reducing disposal problems.