The Energy Transition to ensure A Sustainable Future

The phenomenon of global warming seems to become more and more looming in today’s era, where industrialization evolves as part of a multitude of daily processes.
This growing development has its pros and cons: on the one hand, it brings some advantages in terms of benefits that we can enjoy thanks to the improvement of comfort and the automation of several activities that accompany the human beings both in private and in working life; on the other hand, it leads to increasingly significant environmental problems that affect the quality of the atmosphere.

Air pollution represents a modification of atmosphere’s normal composition, due to the presence of one or more substances in quantities and with characteristics such as to alter the normal conditions of air’s healthiness, to constitute a danger to human health and to alter ecosystems. In particular, the growing emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by the exercise of industrial and/or residential activities can change normal climatic conditions with irreversible effects and seriously endanger the health of our planet.
About it, various policies have recently been promoted in favor of environmental sustainability, mainly aimed at providing nations around the world with incentives for the development of the so-called “green economy.” By this term, we mean all those forms of energy that are alternative to traditional fossil sources and are characterized by being clean energy, in the sense that their exploitation is not accompanied by the introduction into the atmosphere of harmful and/or climate-altering substances such as CO2.

The ‘Make Energy Greener (MEG)’​ Radar — Image Credit: Siemens Energy

Since there is no oxidation of fossil fuel, the reduction of chemical pollution deriving from greenhouse gas emissions and, consequently, the lower environmental impact associated with these sources of energy is evident. They are also called renewable energies, as they inherently regenerate or cannot be exhausted in a human time scale. Among these, we can find solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and so on.
The use of renewable sources, therefore, allows us to satisfy a double need: the depletion of fossil sources and the concerns about environmental pollution. Based on these considerations, the European Union’s strategy on energy, the so-called “20–20–20” package for 2020, has been proposed and it focuses on the three following cornerstones:

  • control of primary energy consumption
  • reduction of emissions (mainly CO2)
  • increase in the share of renewable energy

However, from an economic point of view, the cost of energy produced from renewable sources is not yet competitive and such as to be able to replace fossil fuels in the medium term. That’s why, in the context of the green economy, government subsidy policies have been implemented to support the construction of plants that use renewable resources.

In the expansion of renewable energies’ use, the professional figure of the engineer is undoubtedly involved. In details, the engineer is fully able to offer support to the environment through the technological innovation to be inserted within the renewable energy production plants, such as photovoltaic panels, wind machines, and geothermal heat pumps, to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the latter by developing energy in an increasingly smart way. Moreover, the engineer could also take on the role of promoter of some campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the environmental impact and spreading the use of alternative energy sources in today’s society.

Understanding the role of renewable sources in covering energy needs that currently exist worldwide allows us to evaluate the opportunities of these sources. Nowadays, energy consumption is growing steadily, and the dominant role is still assigned to fossil sources.
According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2009, the primary energy requirement was around 12169 Mtoe, with an average annual growth rate in the last 30 years of + 1.7%. Renewable sources cover this requirement for a share of only 13.1%, and they, always in that time interval, had an average growth rate of + 1.8%. According to the IEA forecasts, the use of renewable energies should continue to expand quickly, with growth rates mainly dependent on different government policies in place.

Image Credit: Raconteur

With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and the trend increasingly driven towards digital transformation, energy is a fundamental resource for guaranteeing innovative progress. However, we cannot speak of development if this implies compromising the “environmental health” of the world where we live. Therefore, it is essential to guarantee an adequate level of well-being of the population and consequently, to use all the available renewable resources.
Today’s investment can be valuable for safeguarding the future.

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