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Every human being on this planet uses energy, whether it is to cook food or travel from one place to another. Most of the energy used in the world comes from traditional (non-renewable) energy sources. Around 85 percent of energy comes from non-renewable sources such as natural gas, coal, and oil.
Carbon emissions worldwide from fossil fuels have drastically increased since the 1900s. In 2018, approximately 89 percent of carbon emissions worldwide came from fossil fuels. As climate change accelerates, it is essential to shift to renewable energy sources.
The earth is rich with untapped energy sources. Between solar energy, geothermal energy, tidal power, and more, the world has enough to meet the increasing energy demands. Among the earth’s untapped energy sources, solar and wind energy are likely to grow rapidly during this decade.
The world is slowly transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy to tackle the impacts of climate change. Here are four untapped energy sources that have the potential to meet energy demands:
Hydroelectric power or hydropower is a renewable energy source that produces power by using a dam or diversion structure to change the flow of a river or other water bodies. The energy potential of hydroelectric power is estimated to be around 2,800 gigawatts.
The largest potential generator of hydroelectric power is China. China’s installed hydropower capacity exceeds 100 GW. The country’s hydroelectric potential is likely to go beyond 400 GW. China will likely continue to develop this energy source as energy demand in the country increases.
The world’s hydroelectric power potential is mostly found in developing nations. Developing nations have always had the technology to generate energy from water flow. Today, several countries have tapped a great deal of hydroelectric power. Besides China and Brazil, India has also made a significant change in its development.
Hydroelectricity is cheaper compared to other sources of energy. It is also more affordable than renewable energy sources like solar and wind power- it costs less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Wind energy or power is one of the untapped energy sources in the earth. Wind power uses natural wind flows and currents to turn a wind turbine and generate electricity. Wind power has great potential in the United Kingdom as the country has the largest generation capacity of offshore wind farms in the world. The United Kingdom government plans on increasing offshore wind power to generate energy sufficient to cover every home by 2030.
According to the Wind Vision Report by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), wind energy can act as a source of renewable electricity in all 50 states of the US in installation, manufacturing, maintenance, and supporting services by 2050.
By 2050, wind power can save up to 260 billion gallons of water- that the electric power sector would have used. Adopting wind power can also increase community revenues.
Geothermal energy is heat within the earth. Below the earth’s surface, there exist pockets of steam. The heat from the steam can be converted into geothermal energy.
There is sufficient heat inside the earth’s surface to meet the entire world’s energy demands. However, obtaining it requires drilling deep underground and transforming the heat into a usable form of energy. This process is expensive and complicated. Thus, geothermal energy- the forgotten renewable energy- makes up only 0.3 percent of global electricity production.
Today, geothermal energy is being explored to meet increasing energy demands. While the electricity output of solar and wind energy plants varies with the time of day and weather, geothermal energy is always on. Thus, it is a stable source of energy.
Solar energy is radiation from the sun, which is capable of producing heat, causing chemical reactions, and producing electricity. The total amount of solar energy obtained on earth is more than the world’s current energy requirements.
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, only 0.6 percent of the USA’s total surface area would need to be covered in solar panels to power the entire country. Large areas of America’s south and west are key locations for solar power due to high amounts of daylight.
Japan has numerous solar panels installed on building around the country. However, there is still a high untapped solar energy potential. Solar power has the potential to produce around 50 percent of Germany’s electricity consumption needs on bright sunny days.
Solar power generated almost 5.068GW of electricity in Turkey during 2018. Turkey plans on doubling it to 10GW of electricity from solar by 2030. Solar energy also has potential in Canada. Natural Resources Canada estimated that almost half of the country’s residential electricity needs could be covered with the installation of solar panels.